How to develop a mentoring Culture
Mentoring and the transfer of knowledge and experience between employees is a concept as old as the hills. It provides long-term benefit and value, supports collaboration and helps succession planning. But while having a mentoring culture is ideal for any organisation, and the value of it is understood, it is also one of the first things that is overlooked. Building up and maintaining a mentoring approach takes time and resource, and is increasingly affected by rapid staff turnover and growing numbers of part-time or gig workers.
Having good mentors in an organisation is vital to develop consistency of knowledge and approach – but what exactly makes a good mentor? Essentially, this requires being a good role model, and a person who is willing to share their skills for the betterment of others and the company as a whole. Mentors provide the guidance necessary for the growth of the individual they are supporting. Most of all, they display a positive attitude and give motivation in times of challenge and adversity.
However, not everyone is suitable. You could have the best employees, but that doesn’t automatically mean they will be good mentors as it's not always about the person’s on-the-job skills and talents. Mentorship is about building a personal relationship with the colleague being supported. While developing mentors might seem like a daunting task, if done right, the results will be more than worth the effort. Here are some of the qualities of the best possible mentors in your organisation.
Nurturing positive relationships with others
People who value a network and consciously make an effort to have good connections with their peers will usually be good candidates. Look for employees who nurture relationships with their co-workers because they want to help, not because it benefits them. That being said, the mentor and mentee relationship is not a one-way street. It is a relationship requiring the involvement of both parties. For it to prosper, they must be more than willing to learn from one another. It is a relationship that is beneficial to both participants.
Employees being supported gain invaluable knowledge that enables them to succeed not only in their jobs but their careers as a whole. Mentors, on the other hand, get to see their colleagues succeed. More often than not, the greatness of a mentor can be measured by the level of success that his or her mentees have achieved. This brings us to the next characteristic of a good mentor.
Sincerity in helping others succeed
You must focus on the people in your company who are committed to the success of others. Pay attention to those who have an earnest desire to help people succeed in reaching their goals. Unselfishness is one of the primary characteristics of a good mentor. They are people who think of others before thinking of themselves. Most of their energy is spent on doing things for the benefit of the people they are supporting.
Mentors invest their time and effort into making sure their colleagues are always on the right track, and they are always there to provide motivation and words of encouragement if needed. Good teachers take pride in doing this kind of work. They want to instil values that empower people to achieve their goals because, for them, seeing this is a great reward.
Leading by example
A mentor knows the best way to help someone to learn is to demonstrate best practice, not tell them. True leaders don’t merely tell their followers how best to achieve a task, they lead by example and show a strong work ethic by giving an exemplary performance everyday. They don’t sit on the sidelines, they act, because they know that through this action, their followers will be inspired to do the same.
Listening actively to people
As previously mentioned, the mentor and mentee relationship is a symbiotic one. Active listening is not for the student alone, but also for the teacher. A good mentor will listen and learn, take notes, and ask questions to make sure that he or she understood everything correctly. By actively listening, mentors provide their full attention, which will motivate the person they are supporting.
Although, active listening does not stop there. Someone who truly listened will do his or her utter best to act on the things he or she has heard, because listening without action provides a bad example. If given some negative feedback, no matter how trivial it may seem, a good mentor will consider it and either provide a solution or discuss possibilities.
Be a company that promotes mentoring programmes and a positive work environment
A company promoting mentoring between its employees will create value, develop a supportive culture and protect its business through the sharing of knowledge and support for collaboration. It also nurtures a culture that is driven by any company’s greatest asset, the employees. If the experience employees have within a company is supportive and empowering, they are more likely to be content and this, in turn, will support the customer experience.
Content and satisfied employees also make the best mentors because they are more productive and more likely to help others succeed if they feel successful and valued.
Mentoring and Age
Knowledge and experience are essential attributes to have as a mentor but this doesn’t mean that age is necessarily all-important. People who already have over 20 years of experience have one significant advantage in that they have worked in a pre-internet era when communication within a business and with customers was very different to how it is now. These people will have different skills that will be of great value to those who are younger.
They also have other attributes that will be attractive for any business including loyalty and a great work ethic, as well as resilience developed over different economic times with different fortunes. However, mentoring can also be a role for younger employees to help those who are more senior in age especially in some areas of technology.
Having someone with a lot of experience in your team might be just the thing you need to support your performance and culture.