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9 easy ways to jump-start mentoring in the workplace.

March 12, 2014

It’s time to combat autopilot within the workplace. Too many in today’s workforce experience monotonous 9-to-5 schedules with little room for professional growth. In an effort to increase employee engagement and morale, forward-thinking companies leverage mentoring programs to attract, develop and retain top-tier talent. If your company is in need of a professional development program, this post offers 9 easy and affordable) ways to jumpstart mentoring in your workplace.

Make the case for mentoring with financial facts.

Consider the positive impact a mentorship program may bring to your bottom line. Research has shown that mentors and mentees who participate in mentoring programs are more valuable employees to a business – and they receive higher pay and are more likely to receive promotions. Gartner conducted a comprehensive study on the value of mentoring for Sun Microsystems. The study found:

  • 25% of employees who enrolled in a mentoring program had a positive salary-grade change, while only 5% of workers who did not participate in a mentoring program received a salary-grade change.
  • Mentors were promoted six times more often than those who did not mentor formally.
  • Retention rates were higher for both mentees (72%) and mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate in a mentoring program.

Mentoring programs can fuel company-wide improvement.

It used to be that mentoring programs were designed specifically for entry-level employees or even college students. It was often viewed as a stuffy, formal process. However, the Digital Age has dramatically reshaped traditional mentoring strategies. Now, all employees can easily access LinkedIn’s discussion groups; participate in local and national organizations, and access industry blogs and e-books. With information readily available, professionals now realize that if they have a desire to learn they can gain new experiences and development opportunities just about anywhere.

The 9 mentoring strategies that really work.

At Ervin & Smith we have created easy ways for people to get involved in mentoring.  Opportunities include:

  1. Weekly team meetings: Teams are able to share new ideas, present work and discuss industry trends. It’s a time for employees to share their opinions and learn from each other.
  2. Monthly one-on-ones: It’s important for managers to schedule dedicated, one-on-one time with their employees. This gives both sides the opportunity to share information about current projects and provide feedback.
  3. Issues Management Mentoring: If an employee is struggling with a difficult management or personal situation, managers are trained to seek out a mentor who can provide insight and coaching because they have experienced a similar situation.
  4. Lunch With A Leader: Each member of our executive leadership team plans two to four lunches each month with employees who would like additional mentoring. These valuable meetings give employees a platform to share and discuss ideas, goals and achievements… and allow our top executives to identify high-potential employees.
  5. Management Carousel: We’ve developed a management rotation program so managers can mentor employees who normally would not report to them. Employees are able to learn from other managers and experience different coaching styles.
  6. Cross-Departmental Peer Groups: All managers within our company meet weekly with cross-departmental peer management groups to promote information sharing, training and management troubleshooting.
  7. Employee Triads: Research shows that one-on-one peer mentoring can occasionally lead to commiserating rather than problem-solving behaviors. Instead, we regularly partner three individuals into cross-departmental “triads,” as suggested in the book, Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright. This encourages a positive dynamic, focused on garnering perspective and empathy. It also helps to eliminate business silos that can naturally form in any company.
  8. Strength Based Coaching: Ervin & Smith utilizes Gallup’s Strengths Finder. We encourage employees to find a variety of mentors, including one with similar strengths as well as one who has strengths in areas where an employee may not be as strong.
  9. Book Clubs: All team members participate in regular cross-departmental book clubs focused on best business practices. It’s an easy way to foster ongoing employee education.

Mentoring in the workplace will continue to shift, but ongoing personal and professional development will be critical. It is not only important to the individual’s growth, but also to the success of a company.

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