How To Start A Great Mentoring Program At Work

Starting a mentoring program is one of the most intelligent, positively impacting and long-lasting decisions you can make for your business. Mentoring initiatives are something that touches everyone in the company, and they are not directed only towards a specific demographic, but instead, they are available to all those who care about their personal and professional growth, no matter what their current position inside the organization. Mentoring also has benefits that are directly related to individual development but can also boost employee satisfaction and retention levels while at the same time making your company more attractive to prospective employees or individuals in general interested in the organization.

One of the best parts of mentoring is that instead of having to invest in external resources to be brought into the company, you are capitalizing on the assets you already have, mainly the human component of those resources.

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Creating a high-impact mentoring program may not be as difficult as you think, considering all of the benefits that a well-established initiative can bestow upon a company that takes it seriously and decides to use to properly take advantage of everything their employees have to offer. Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to talk about the things you need to consider and some of the most basic steps to get started and put together a mentoring program that will surely make a difference.

It only makes sense that the first step to take in the creation of such program would be to define the general and specific objectives of the initiative. What do you want to accomplish? Is this about better preparing your people to remain competitive in the market? Do you want to strengthen the leadership of your organization by helping senior leaders hone their skills while giving junior associates a closer look at the inner workings of leadership in action? Is this all about accomplishing better retention and having employees gain perspective or a new appreciation for their company? Do you want to introduce your people to a new skill and decide to use a mentoring program to do so? The answer to all of these questions will probably provide you with a good idea as to which concepts you must focus on while designing the program and which areas will not be so important when making decisions about putting it together.

Your target audience is very important when you are in the planning stages of the program because they dictate the needs of your design. You have to know what motivates your people, where they are in the career and what would be their logical next steps in a quest for growth. Knowing this information will allow you to come up with realistic goals that can be measured according to the participants’ performance and it can come as a huge help to leaders who participate by giving them an idea of the areas in which they can be most helpful and so that they can self-evaluate to gain a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses to support the initiative. It is important to remember that a successful mentoring program will always have a strong structure but also be characterized by its flexibility. Remember that no two mentoring relationships are the same, so you must prepare for that.

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It doesn’t matter how well designed your program is, it must have an excellent marketing campaign. People in the organization must know that it exists and in the worst-case scenario, at least know what a mentoring program is. It happens quite often that companies announce a mentoring program and are met with a great deal of enthusiasm by a member of the organization, however, the turnout is low and the actual interest seem lower than expected. This happens because people may not truly understand how mentoring works and what it can do for them. It is important that a program is not simply announced, but that actual training is thrown into the mix. Participants must understand all aspects of mentoring so they can see what they are getting into, understand the positive impact that it can bring into their lives and also know how they can maximize their effort by being active participants in their own evolution.

Mentors and mentees must be paired properly and plan to do so must be made considering all approaches. Sometimes these relationships are born organically, but in some case, the organization must step in and help both sides meet based on the criteria each participant has according to what they want from the program and what they can bring to the table. This step is crucial so you must understand how it will take place. Do not let these partnerships be on their own and forget about them completely; remember the organization must be there and provide support in any way it can since the success of a mentoring program is going to be of great influence to the future of the organization.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

 

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How To Better Develop Your Leadership Skills With Mentoring.

Developing a manager is a process that never stops, just like you never stop enriching your own leadership skills, as it is a practice that never really ceases to take place. One of the most important things leaders must keep in mind, is that they are by no means a finished product and that the pressure of ever-changing business environments will always challenge them to reinvent themselves and to adapt to the constant evolution of the world around them. We are used to thinking about developmental training as one of the only ways for companies to continue training their members, but the problem with that is that it does disrupt every day operations, and while we look at it as an investment that pays off in the long run, we still have to find a way to cover the absence of those important individuals as they attend their training classes.

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Image courtesy of Harold Navarro at Flickr.com

So how do we train our valuable personnel while maintaining efficiency within the company and at the same time minding the budgetary constrains the organization may have? The answer is something that we constantly talk about here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, and that is a mentoring program.

We have talked about the many ways these programs can benefit your organization and also about ways you can polish up your mentoring skills to be able to offer your mentees the best opportunity to make the most out of the relationship and to see visible results on their investment. However, today we want to focus on an important fact that it often gets overlooked, and that is the other side of the relationship and how important it is to ensure that no matter what, mentoring partnerships never cease to be mutually beneficial.

Companies today understand more than ever, the need to have a robust program to develop leaders, as they are some of the most valuable assets you can find in your organization. Leaders can come from all different backgrounds and departments and sometimes, our own hindsight is to blame for us as a company missing an opportunity to collect a true diamond on the rough. Developing these leaders and giving the tools necessary to succeed, are some of the top priorities a company must observe in order to remain relevant, competitive and innovative in today’s fast changing environment. The answer to that dilemma has always been within our own structure and that is why mentoring programs must be given the proper place in the great scheme of things and their role when it comes to helping the company achieve its goals cannot be underestimated.

We all know a mentor is a person who chooses to lend all of their expertise and experience to guide another individual in their own advancement within the organization and also in their own personal and professional growth. What is important to remember here is that as both parties are members of the organization, this relationship greatly benefits their environment and propels the company forward.

Just as mentees are greatly benefited by borrowing all of that experience from an individual who has advanced much further than they have within their respective field, the mentor is also greatly profited by being able to learn from this other person and thus better himself or herself as well. Effective mentoring relationships rely on the willingness of both parties to challenge assumptions, ask questions and collaborate on finding the best way to tackle issues of concern.

Mentors can look at the mentoring relationship as incredibly valuable opportunities to use their leadership skills to influence others and at the same time receive greatly appreciated feedback on their own mistakes as a leader.

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Image courtesy of lawtherjamie at Flickr.com

We know leaders are people who must deal with a different set of challenges that arise from the human aspect of the organization. They must be specially adept at motivating others, make the most out of the feedback their receive and lead by giving a great example for their employees to follow. All of these aspects can be experienced up-close when we take a look at what a mentoring relationship is supposed to look like.

The self-reflection that can arise from dealing with common mentoring challenges can give you incomparable insight on your own abilities as a leader and thus become a powerful experience for growth. Also, the service that you are doing to your company is amazing, and there are few other ways that you can impact the achievement of organizational goals so directly as you can with the proper employment of a mentoring program. Something else to consider is the opportunity to build a larger network, the possibility to gain new knowledge as mentees often have different sets of skills that you may not possess and the chance to build confidence on your own leadership skills that must always be trained and harnessed.