Mentorship
Mentorship programs are effective mechanisms to improve individual employee capability, and with that comes greater business capacity. In-house mentorship programs bring business veterans and young bucks together to grow each other’s respective skills. Mentorship will challenge them to do and learn something new, something more, and turn to each other as resources.BizJournals® talks about workplace mentoring as a “learning partnership between employees for [the] purposes of sharing information, knowledge and insight.” There it is! The active exchange of information with one another is all it takes. Here’s how to harness it with a company-wide mentorship initiative:

Mentorship made easy
Internally facing though they are, mentorships are a smart decision because they are a learning and growth opportunity for every member of the team. Even as a manager or owner, your participation in a development-oriented program is critical. It’s one thing to encourage the program, but it’s quite another to set an example and participate in it. It’s an admission that the learning process is ongoing, and, it’s a testament to your faith in the overall goal of the program which, for lack of a better term, is best expressed as “a rising tide raises all boats.”

To get the mentorship motor whirring, start with some research. Ask yourself a few things and then ask around:

  • Where do you see your organization going in the months and years ahead? Gauge the thoughts of organizational leadership, too. In the same discussion, allude to the utility of in-house mentorship to get the business there faster. After all, you’ll need their buy-in to move forward.
  • What are the skills that your team needs to develop in order to arrive at that goal? Professional growth is ongoing. There are probably a number of areas that can be built up and bolstered. Mine company data and customer feedback about what you can do better and go from there.
  • How do your team members feel about their individual strengths and weaknesses? Where do they think they need to build skills? This should help you determine whether everyone would benefit from mentorship or whether it is meant for a select group. Begin mulling over possible matches depending on which prospective mentors are best able to help prospective mentees.

Next, once you’ve received approval, implement a few of these program ideas to get monitoring going:

  • Share the news. Tell your work colleagues what’s on the up-and-up. (They are!) Give them time to ask questions and answer them thoroughly.
  • Build relationships. The mentor-mentee partnership is a chance for each to turn to the other for feedback and support. This kind of team building helps bring the team closer together, too.
  • Reflect on it. Distribute executive bound journals and a nice pen set to instill a sense of purpose in mentors and mentees. Ask each person to take notes and track their individual progress over time to help determine whether the program is making a positive impact. Ask each person/team to share their weekly “wins” in a roundtable with the others.
  • Encourage idea sharing. Establish a digital pin board on a social media group or the office Intranet. Alternatively, you could always go back to the basics with memo boards on everyone’s office door or desk. They can attach salient articles to the board … or just write something positive for the day.
  • Remember it. Celebrate the mentorship with a photo album of the teams. Place it near the office watering hole where everyone can see it. Let it serve as a reminder of the shared commitment to the program and the growth everyone has experienced.
  • Reward, reward, reward. As an extra effort to help the team take pride in helping one another and the growth they’ve achieved thus far, reward them with a picture frame and photo of their mentorship time.

Mentorship is a smart investment. As your team grows, so will their skills and as their capabilities grow, so will your business. Ultimately, jobs will be completed more quickly and more effectively and customers, clients, vendors and colleagues will be more satisfied.

For more information, visit www.4imprint.com/bluepapers to download our Blue Paper® and podcast Team mentoring: Bringing leadership development in-house.

Holloway Hill, Cathy. “Mentoring Program Is a Key to Successful Employee Development.” Business First, 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.

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