Mentoring has become a hot topic in many companies, but what makes this different from the coaching trend that has been around for a while and how can this help us increase remote worker retention?
First of all, let’s agree that mentors and coaches have different roles within a company, although they may seem interchangeable at times. A coach will focus on a short-term project within your company with a very specific task and objective in mind. On the other hand, a mentor will be a person who will focus on a long-term process built on mutual trust and respect. In the same light, it makes a coach formalize a more structured and formal relationship with your employees, whereas mentors have a more informal association. Because of this, you will most likely find that mentors have first-hand access to their mentees work, but instead a business coach will not need this to do his or her job.
As top priority, a business mentor will aim to help his or her mentee to hone in on their skills for their personal professional development, which will affect employees not only in their current jobs, but in the future as well. A coach will more than likely have a big impact on improving your employee’s performance at their current job. By understanding the differences, your company can decide which tasks or situations require more attention and thus defining if you’d be better off having a business mentor or coach.
Companies can use mentoring in many different ways like career development, leadership development, diversity mentoring, reverse mentoring or knowledge transfer. In career development, companies realize the importance of aligning personal professional development goals and organizational goals, and thus they open spaces to encourage a learning culture within the company where mentors and mentees can reach those goals together. When during this process you discover high potential employees you can definitely implement leadership development, which will hone in on the skills required for future leaders in your company. By pairing up diverse career paths, ages, experience and backgrounds you can impulse creativity, innovation and even gain new perspectives for business strategies by using diversity mentoring. In reverse mentoring, you will be pairing an older more experienced employee with a young and less experienced one, where the latter one will be the mentor. The idea is that this younger mentor can provide insight to trending topics in the market, technological advances and up-to-date information on the industry. Despite the fact that the younger employee is the mentor, it will always be a two-way street. Finally, knowledge transfer is great for short-term or long-term goals where companies can organize, create, capture and distribute knowledge within all the workers in a company. Since there is a direct contact with the person who is transferring the knowledge, it takes substantially less time than traditional methods.
As a trend in 2016, more and more companies are taking on remote employees under different schemes, but at the end a concern has arisen from this new trend, which is how to engage and increase retention in an employee that hardly or never comes into the office. That’s where mentoring has, during this year, become an innovative way to maintain an open channel of communication with all employees independent of the telecommuting strategy implemented or the physical location.
Top performing companies are looking towards pairing up technology and mentoring to offer remote employees the opportunity of participating in employee development and training on their own schedule. Besides helping employees develop their careers, it can help companies improve recruitment of millennials and other top talent in the industry that are all for telecommuting solutions, but value skills development. By planning out a strategy you can ensure that the process can be tracked and you can get reports in the progress each employee has had. There are more and more alternatives to learning nowadays, so it’s well worth it to explore the options and implement them in this innovative way of letting your employees engage.
Now, the other thing you must keep in mind is who to assign to your remote employee as a mentor. There are two ways you can go about this. It will come down to how your employee is reacting towards being a remote employee. If he is really looking forward to it and wants to gain insight as to how to become better at it, it would come in handy to assign a mentor that has had a successful experience of being a telecommuting employee, so he can pass along any wisdom. On the other hand, if you have an employee that feels a little left out due to his new position, but for other reasons wants or needs to be remote, than a good choice for him or her would be to find a mentor within the company, that can keep them in the loop and can keep them connected to everyone else at the office.