In the era of social networking and active connection-building on sites like LinkedIn, some may consider the age-old practice of traditional mentorship a little old fashioned. Yet, fostering face-to-face relationships with peers in one’s own company is crucial to improving career experiences for both the employee and the manager, as well as creating a culture of leadership.
New York Times best-selling author and “mentor-capitalist” Anthony Tjan found that out of the 100 or so leaders from various industries he researched for his recent book, they all have one characteristic in common: they do everything they can to imprint their “goodness” onto others in ways that make people feel like fuller versions of themselves. By this logic, we should be facilitating knowledge transfers as much as we can to increase the prevalence of good leaders.
By looking for similar contributions and career goals, we can connect employees with mentors who are able to offer more meaningful feedback.
Mentoring uses the resources your company already has to improve employee satisfaction, develop leadership, and create lasting relationships with peers. Both parties involved in a mentoring program gain the opportunity to recognize their abilities and limitations, highlighting areas for future development. Most importantly, mentoring serves as an opportunity outside of regular work interactions to discuss career opportunities, the optimal paths to growth, and how to get there with leadership support.
Breaking it down further, for the mentee, it’s an advantage to have someone in a senior role outside of your management chain that can provide unbiased guidance on areas you are unfamiliar with, and serve as an ally when opportunities or promotions come up.
For the mentor, discussing issues with a mentee can help develop or renew communication skills. In many cases, this relationship can act as a link between generations, bridging the gap between work styles to help company leadership better understand younger workers and what they can expect from the future workforce.
Technology and more advanced performance enablement practices can help us build stronger connections with peers and identify potential career paths. By looking for similar contributions and career goals, we can connect employees with mentors who are able to offer more meaningful feedback.
Companies have also leveraged mentorship programs to target groups of employees that need extra career support. According to Pew Research, 39 percent of women are likely to take a significant amount of time off due to family-related events. Intuit recognized the difficulty women have in returning to their careers after leaving the workforce, so they started Intuit Again, a mentorship program in India that helps women who have taken a break come back to work and sharpen their professional skills through a six-month internship. 51 percent of participants were hired full-time upon completion of their internships in the program’s first year.
Before you establish a mentorship program at your own company, consider what the requirements are for a meaningful relationship to work. There are two important things to remember:
- Establish goals from the outset. Outline what you would each like to get out of the relationship before you develop a regular cadence of meetings, then refer back to those goals at points throughout your relationship.
- Make the relationship a priority. It’s not hard to fall into the bad habit of taking a “check the box” approach to mentorship instead of building something authentic and mutual. For the relationship to work, both parties need to be motivated and engaged, working towards a common goal.
In the end, mentorship is about people helping other people reach their highest potential. By utilizing the tools and practices at our disposal, we can improve overall employee satisfaction and retention, enrich careers, and ultimately help your company build stronger leadership.