A mentor program can be an asset to an organization of nearly any size, and it has been demonstrated to bring many benefits to a company and its employees.
Mentor programs can increase productivity, improve morale, increase employee retention rates, and assist in cultivating a more positive work environment.
The purpose of a mentor program is to tap into the knowledge, skills, and experience of your existing high-performance employees (mentors), and transfer that knowledge and skills to your less experienced employees (mentees), to enable them to be more productive, be knowledgeable in their work, be more comfortable in their work environment, be happier in their jobs, and to support their achievements.
In recent years, these programs have become more formalized and prevalent. More than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have some form of a mentor program at their organizations.
These programs will not only help increase job productivity and satisfaction for both the mentor and the mentee, but they will also provide other benefits to the organization as a whole. A well executed mentoring program provides both mentors and mentees with more tools to be successful.
- The advantage of learning skills and knowledge directly from someone who is seasoned in a role and willing to share their expertise.
- A high-performing role model in the company to learn from and look to for examples and guidance.
- A reduction in work stress and anxiety by providing a confidante to go to when they are struggling, who is not their direct manager.
- Increased job satisfaction and engagement as a result of getting an “insider” look at the company’s culture and receiving tips on how to navigate it successfully.
- Personalized career guidance from a trusted advisor.
- The intrinsic reward of passing their knowledge and expertise onto someone who is more junior in the organization, and watching the positive results in the mentee as the relationship continues.
- Developing more confidence in their abilities in their job and deriving additional satisfaction in their role from helping others in a meaningful way, beyond the scope of their normal job responsibilities. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, mentors have greater job satisfaction and commitment to their organization than non-mentors.
- Becoming more engaged in their role, being a subject matter expert for others is a great motivator. By assigning them as mentors, you can help motivate your company’s top performers to stay working with your company.
- Cultivating stronger leadership, communication, and listening skills that come along with the responsibility of mentoring.
- Being recognized as a trusted advisor within the company.
- The facilitation of the new hire onboarding period. The mentor/mentee relationship can be pivotal in getting a new hire acclimated to the company culture quicker, beyond learning their job responsibilities.
- Having a mentor/mentee relationship instills company loyalty for both parties. This is the result of the mentor feeling more engaged with the company in their important role, and the mentee being extra invested in the company due to getting more immersed in learning more about the inner workings of the company early in their tenure.
- There are fewer skill gaps for more junior employees as a result of the professional development that occurs on multiple levels. As noted earlier, stronger leadership, communication, and other professional skills are made stronger with the mentor/mentee connection. The mentee can get personalized input on how to capitalize on their strengths, and address their areas of improvement.
- A reduction in company turnover due to increased employee engagement and more internal job promotions or lateral hires.
- The company reputation is boosted by a more positive work environment, due to the benefits reaped by both mentors and mentees within the organization. When employees are happier, they speak highly about their organization and what it is like to work there.
Interested in reaping these type of benefits?
Tips on implementing a mentor program:
- Keep it simple- designate a point person or committee to implement and lead the process. A good way to start is have a pilot program with just a few employees or a single department.
- Set objectives for the program- Similar to performance management goals for employees, the goals of the program should be clear, measurable, and attainable.
- Establish a process- establish selection criteria for mentors, decide whether it will be optional or required for new hires and junior existing employees, put together timelines, guidelines, and training materials for mentors.
- Select mentor prospects- encourage managers to volunteer or recommend high performers who would likely be strong mentors. Conduct a communication campaign to generate attention and interest in being a mentor.
- Match mentors and mentees based on established selection criteria for a good fit.
- Monitor and evaluate program after the first 90 days and at regular intervals.
One thing we can count on is continuous change and challenges in the workplace. To be an employer of choice, it’s important to show your employees that you care about their success as individuals, in addition to the value they bring to your company.
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