Every organisation faces the challenge of staff development and providing a range of opportunities for employees to learn and grow. A mentoring scheme is a very simple but effective tool that makes use of the attitudes and experience of more senior members of staff to help shape the development of others. Creating a strong mentoring scheme in your workplace has many benefits – using informal structures to pass on skills, knowledge and support is often more effective and brings people together.
Tips for creating a strong mentoring scheme
Structure mentoring around mentee need
A strong mentoring programme is not about creating a scheme based on the skills of the mentor and then finding a mentee to fit. In order to be successful the starting point is always the mentee. What is it that the mentee needs to acquire in order to progress? This could be anything, from technical skill and knowledge, to social or political insights. When you focus on establishing a scheme that is designed with what less experienced members of staff need to progress in mind then you are laying the foundations for real success.
Be cautious when choosing the mentors
Not everyone is suited to being a mentor, no matter how much skill or experience they have. Initially, it’s important to identify those who actually want to be involved in a mentoring scheme, as the willingness to apply time and effort to helping someone else progress will be fundamental to whether results are achieved. It’s also important to look for mentors who have the right skill set and experience – people who are going to pass on useful insights and help others achieve more in the right way. Mentors should also be those who understand the business’ culture and concerns and apply this to their own roles every day. Otherwise you may have a mentor who is passing on fantastic advice, none of which is being given in the context of business.
Create mentor schemes with business goals
Mentoring has a very positive impact on staff and can help to improve performance and relationships between individuals in the organisation who may otherwise have had little or no contact. However, it’s important not to forget that mentoring always has one crucial goal for employers: identifying stand out talent within the business. This is a great opportunity to find your star performers of the future to support internal promotion and avoid costly external recruitment.
Focus on mutually beneficial relationships
Very hierarchical mentoring structures often run into issues. Although a mentor may be a senior member of staff, they should not be senior by virtue of being a mentor. Mentoring schemes work better without workplace hierarchies and a focus on winning or losing, success or failure or scoring points. Mentoring schemes should sit slightly outside of the business structure and give something to both parties taking part.
Coaching and mentoring has an important role to play in modern business. Our Coaching and Mentoring training course gives coaches and mentors the opportunity to develop the high levels of skill required to be able to work both quickly and well with mentees.