Why is mentoring the best way to raise leaders in your company?

This is happening more and more frequently, which is quite encouraging. A company with problems (eminently, with communication problems) decides to adopt a change of perspective and start doing things differently and decides to implement a mentoring project. The company’s directives hire an expert in this area and all of them design the program with the objective that the directors become the mentors of the top executives of the organization, who could be the leaders of it in the future, to develop their leadership skills. When these types of adjustments are made, the benefits are so many that they are difficult to classify. However, the most important of these is the new form of leadership that is built and executed for the good of the entire company.

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When leadership is built from mentoring processes, the leader that results is not a simple advisor to his or her subordinates, and, of course, he/she is not someone who simply delegates and gives orders so that everything is done to his or her convenience. A leader built a from mentoring processes, first of all, uses coaching skills and techniques; forms and transmits knowledge, and relates and sponsors the mentees. This type of leader considers three basic dimensions that must be developed in any professional role: Emotional, intellectual and social.

Obviously, for this to be achieved, it is necessary to have certain knowledge. Otherwise, the mentoring program could fail. Ideally, a company may start with a small group of mentors and mentees. A group of ten people, for example, is easy to follow and monitor, and from there it is possible to quantitatively extend the new versions of the mentoring programs.

In the same way, it is vital to choose the pairs of mentors and mentees very well. This selection should be made jointly with experts in the human resources area, or with external organizational psychologists. The idea is not simply to organize couples that get along but to complement each other in their knowledge and experience, and from which a true learning can emerge.

Before executing anything, it is very important to plan the sessions, and, above all, to elaborate a very detailed internal guide that includes a practical methodology that is easy to put into practice.

Read also: Why does your company need a mentoring program?, by Suzzanne Uhland

These types of programs are, of course, tremendously beneficial for mentees. What most often stands out in them is the increase of confidence towards the executives of the organizations, as well as a greater assumption of challenges when it comes to their roles. However, the most surprising factor about mentoring processes is the benefits in terms of increasing and improving skills to train other people and developing their potential.

There is always an increase in the level of personal satisfaction of mentors, which is a valuable resource in an organization. In fact, mentoring is one of the practices that most increase the level of commitment and satisfaction of the people who are part of a company.

The mentors consider their participation in the program very satisfactory, not only for the improvement of their competences but also for having contributed to achieving a difference, a change, and improvement in the lives of their mentees. In the same way, this happens because both mentors and mentees expand their own networks of professional contacts, as well as the acquisition of new technical knowledge (both for mentors, who are updated by the new knowledge that mentees bring from the academies, and for mentees, who are nourished by the experience of the mentors.)

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Mentoring has an exponential effect because it not only generates benefits for mentees and mentors but also for the entire company. It can be noticed in all programs, both for small (and family) companies and for large corporations. The main improvements that are obtained thanks to these programs for organizations are four.

The first is that organizational training is improved, especially when company executives become mentors, based on the example of those who participated in the mentoring program, and have taken as mentees other people within the organization to mentor them. The second is that individual performance is improved. This is so because the mentees generally show greater commitment, loyalty, and productivity. The third thing is that, as mentioned above, there is an increase in the level of trust: Mentoring programs increase trust between the members of the Board and senior executives or senior leaders of the company, as both parties learn to communicate in a closer and sincere way. Finally, governance is significantly improved throughout the organization. The relationships between the different interest groups at the internal level of the company improve, there is a clearer and more direct knowledge of the talent, and the leadership capacities of the people who work in the organization. This facilitates the identification of future leaders that the organization may need.

Recommended: Predicting the future of mentoring programs

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The Best 3 Approaches To Finding The Right Mentor For You

A good mentoring relationship is something that many successful professionals give credit to when asked about how they got where they are. The benefits of mentorships are clear, measurable and evident to anyone who decides to even examine the matter and talk to those who have personally been involved in one of these great professional partnerships. Great mentors are people who have decided to sacrifice some of their time and effort in order to help someone else excel and attempt to reach their full potential.

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That aspect in itself is already commendable, but it is worth mentioning as we have said numerous times here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, that the proper mentoring relationship is a two-way street in which both parties are rewarded from the interaction in different manners. 

A mentee doesn’t let all the responsibility resting on their mentor’s shoulder, on the contrary, one could argue that mentees should be even more involved in helping guide the discussion and steer the course of the partnership, while at the same time finding ways to give back to their mentor by also sharing their knowledge and providing feedback that is extremely valuable for the mentor to assess their own interpersonal and leadership skills. 

People with the experience will tell you that there are few things as rewarding as seeing that your efforts are paying off when you are helping someone else get ahead in life, but at the same time you feel that the relationship nourishes you and helps you understand how to be better at what you do and how to make the most of everything you have experienced so far.

One of the most challenging parts of mentoring is actually finding the right mentor, or better yet, knowing what to look for in a mentor in order to choose the best person for you and also someone who can benefit just as much as you will during the partnership. In this article, we want to talk about 3 aspects you should broadly consider to make the right decision about your mentoring relationship and where it should lead you.

Thinking about short-term

Where do you want to be a year from now? This is one of the most typical questions people get asked at interviews, but there is a reason for that. Short-term goals are easily attainable benchmarks that can help you measure success in a short amount of time and also be motivated by seeing your own advancement. Having a mentor that is a reflection of where you want to be in the short-term is an excellent way to adjust your sights and start marching in the right direction. This type of mentor is great for helping take on small tasks and projects at your level because their experience is very similar to yours and they understand where you are since they were there not that long ago. These mentors can also help you gain insight on the company and aid you in finding ways to make your transition smoother as you try to get used to the new environment. This relationship can be quite informal, and you can take charge on getting started by discussing it over a cup of coffee as you socialize and get to know other people in the company.  

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Looking further ahead

While the previous mentor can help you think about how to best carry yourself on a daily basis inside the company, this second mentor is a person who can help you project to where you want to be in five years. This person can help with advice on how to advance in your field and within the company and how to accomplish your short-term goals but will your sights further ahead. Mid-level managers are exceptional individuals to look at when trying to find a “five-year-ahead” mentor since they occupy the positions where you may see yourself in the future while you are still part of the company and they already have some experience under their belt to share with you. Engaging into one of these relationships is a bit more formal and should be planned ahead. Treat it as if it were an interview and keep in mind that the person may not want to engage due to time constraints and other possible factors.

A Career Mentor

This advisor is someone who can help you answer the tough questions about where you want to go with your career and the ultimate goals you want to accomplish. A career mentor may work inside the company, or it could also be someone who has been successful in your field and you admire professionally. They take time to find, and you may have more than one through the years, but the one thing they will have in common is that they will become important to what you do and their opinion will matter on the decisions you make. A mentoring relationship is something to be cherished and cared for if you want to make the most out of it.

How To Set Up A Mentoring Program

The benefits that a mentoring program can offer your company are many and we have even covered them here before on Suzzanne Uhland’s blog. The importance of mentorship programs to employee career progress and advancement of company leadership is evident and an opportunity that every organization should seriously consider as a stepping-stone of its own success. One of the most alluring aspects of a mentorship program is the fact that is relatively free for the company because it utilizes resources the company already has in order to offer employees a training opportunity.

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So how should you go about it? What is the best way to get your mentoring program started in a way that will cause the most impact and positively motivate your employees to actively participate and proudly promote?

The very first thing to do when you are thinking about implementing a mentoring program in your company is to take the time to clearly define what is the exact purpose of the program. What specific benefit do you wish to achieve from creating the program and offering it to your team? Identifying the needs of your company is absolutely crucial to defining the goals of your program and tailoring those aims to answer the demands of the current status of the organization. A mentoring program cannot be created thinking it will be a one-size-fits-all solution for your company, instead, you should focus on a particular aspect and you will most likely see that other benefits will come as inevitable but welcomed side-effects. If you want to create a mentoring program to welcome new employees and help them get acquainted with the culture of the organization and their role in the company, you need to plan that strategy differently from that of a program geared towards conserving top talent or developing leadership skills from your potential future managers. A successful mentoring program should be planned with both flexibility and structure in order to give participants the clarity of goals to be achieved while at the same time cater to their specific individual mentoring needs.

Finding participants for the programs is the next logical step after the structure of it is set in place. It is obvious that the novelty of a mentoring program will create a lot of expectations and normally these initiatives are met with enthusiasm and curiosity. However, it is important to take advantage of this momentum and turn it into actual participation. Don’t believe for a second that simply being interested in the program means that possible participants are already aware of its benefits. One of the main reasons these programs seldom fail is due to lack of promotion, so putting in place a strategy to let team members learn about the existence of mentoring initiatives is just as important as actually educating them on the many benefits of participation. Stakeholders and key personnel at the top of the organization also need to be properly introduced to the concept of the program and its advantages.

Making the program attractive to mentors is also of high importance. In a way, mentors are the most valuable assets a mentoring program has, so you need to be focus on strategies that make participation attractive for them in such way that they are motivated to make time out of their busy schedule and dedicate it to mentoring interested individuals. Remember mentoring is a two-way street and those being guided are getting a benefit that is comparable to those that are given the opportunity to set an example and provide advice on someone else’s professional development; a commendable endeavor that can teach them a lot about their own skills and setbacks.

Matching participants is something else that requires planning, dedication and it can be considered one of the most challenging aspects of creating a mentoring program.

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Those interested in being part of a mentoring initiative will bring all kinds of backgrounds, skills, learning styles and individual needs that must be considered in order to provide them with the best environment for growth and also the best opportunity to give back. Instead of simply finding a way to dictate matching from high up the chain, it would be a lot more beneficial to allow for the process to be more organic by allowing mentees to have a say in the pairing process. Regardless of how you go about this, it is important to consider profiling participants and gathering enough information about them individually in order to best find strategies for matching to at least have a place to start. Sometimes people like to work with others whom they share interests with, graduated from the same alma matter or at least have similar views on some subjects.

In some cases, one mentor can be assigned to a group of individuals instead of simply pairing them with one single person, all of that depends on the organization and the desires of those involved with the program.

 

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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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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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.