Positives of Mentoring at the Workplace

Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done”.Junot Diaz

In the tough corporate world people need someone to guide and support them. Someone who is experienced and may have dealt with many a crisis situation and emerged victorious and so can pass on this expertise to the newer members of the organization. This is what mentoring at the workplace means and is now being increasingly used to help members of the organization develop both personally and professionally. Mentoring at the workplace facilitates the dissemination and transfer of specialized knowledge to the younger and newer members and helps them enhance their career. Mentoring and coaching is a great practice as it saves the company time and resources especially saving on hiring outside professionals to assist with career progression.

Mentoring at the workplace is a two-pronged approach. It is used by companies to put high potential employees on the fast track to growth and also to help some not so great performers to get better at their jobs and enhance their productivity. Skills are sharpened and knowledge base increases, as do attitudes and mind-sets to deal better with everyday situations – the experience of the ‘seasoned’ professionals mentoring them is indispensable and cannot be replaced by knowledge gained by other forms of instructions. Mentoring at the workplace can be used for individuals or even some teams that need to get better at their job or who are about to handle a crucial project and need guidance.

A mentor is someone who is able to guide, coach and support a less-experienced member of the staff and this can be anyone from among the company. It could be a senior person who has been with the company for a long time and hence has the know-how of the company’s processes and ways of operation. The mentor could also be someone who may have been part of a project that needs to be run again and their experience could prove beneficial to the current members of the project. Some companies also hire external professionals to act as mentors. Irrespective of the person acting as a mentor, the purpose is the same – to be a guide and role model who has in-depth knowledge, requisite skills and experience and can help the ‘mentees’ to grow and understand how to better their working styles and increase their skills and knowledge. Mentoring at the workplace is known to have both short and long term benefits and companies use this method as an incentive, to tackle complex issues, increase workforce productivity and for other such benefits. A research has revealed that mentoring in the workplace is a practice that is on the rise and at least 71% of Fortune 500 companies engage employees through mentoring programs.

Companies use mentoring at the workplace in various ways. They could assign a senior and experienced person from the company to mentor a junior staff member to enhance their growth and this is a continuous process that could last for months. There is also group mentoring or guidance for particular high visibility assignments and projects. For example – if an employee has been chosen to visit an off-shore location of the company, the mentor would be someone who would have successfully completed one or several such assignments and would be able to provide expertise on dealing with situations, culture issues, projects and other such points that would make it easier for the staff member to adjust into the assignment. Such assignments are normally ‘reserved’ for employees who are considered high potential talent and therefore being chosen for them and being mentored is often used as an incentive and or benefit.

Mentoring at the workplace is not a one-off program but in fact is highly useful to retain staff, boost morale, can be used as an incentive and also to show employees that the company cares about their development. Mentoring in the workplace is also used for succession planning – i.e. a person may be chosen for a higher position or different job location as a promotion and instead of hiring from outside, companies prefer to move a member of their staff to this soon to be vacant position. The person moving up / on would then serve as a mentor and guide the ‘new’ person about the role and get them up to speed such that they can ease into the role with no time being lost. This is career progression for two people within the organization and motivates others to up the standards of their performance and make efforts to enhance their knowledge and skill levels.

Irrespective of how mentoring at the workplace is used, there is no doubt that it simplifies and enables the sharing of knowledge, skills and expertise. It also encourages learning, collaboration, teamwork and a healthy respect for the vast amount of talent and knowledge base that exists within the company. Mentoring is focused on goals, develops individuals professionally and incites in them a desire to grow personally and as the company becomes known for its ‘employee friendly practices’, there is also an inflow of the brilliant talent available in the marketplace. A company that supports such staff members is high on productivity and earns a formidable reputation in the market thereby attracting more customers and other stakeholders. It would be hard to ignore a company that focuses on the career development of their employees, recognizes and rewards great talent, regularly trains its staff and believes in transferring and sharing knowledge within the company and promoting such knowledge rather than hiring from outside.

Mentoring at the workplace is first and foremost aimed at benefitting the employees. Staff with less experience or knowledge can gain significantly from the expertise of the mentor and turn to them for advice and support as and when required. The benefit is that while being on the job, the staff member under the mentoring program receives guidance, critiquing and praise and hence is able to get better at the job faster than their co-workers. Mentors also provide guidance on what they believe would be a better career path for the employee / a role they would be better suited and often since mentors are senior people within the organization, they also have the clout to influence company decisions on a new role or job for their mentee. Even when a formal mentor-mentee relationship ceases to exist, the ex-mentor would be a trusted and valued aid for the mentee throughout their employment with the company.

Mentoring at the workplace acts as a bridge between high potential employees and the company’s business strategies, practices and long term goals. Mentors are able to guide the mentee within the guidelines of the company giving them the tools required to be future leaders of the company. It is a great way for both mentor and mentee to learn and develop while being highly productive and focused on the job. As companies become more diversified, the staff members employed, are also chosen from different backgrounds to support the diversity. Mentoring at the workplace will help these staff members understand the organization faster, adjust to the values and culture, learn the ropes of the business sooner and become completely productive in their assignments very early on thereby saving valuable time and money. With such focused attention, employees know that their development and growth is important to the company, which in turn keeps the morale and engagement levels high. This results in lower attrition and a more congenial work environment.

With so many great practices for employees, it is obvious that the company will benefit too. A highly energized, intelligent, motivated and extremely productive workforce translates to success, profitability, enhanced market reputation, repeat business from existing customers, great customer testimonials and the ability to attract more customers. A stable company has less employee turnover and customer churn meaning loyalty from both these key sets of people.

Mentoring at the workplace is truly focused on enhancing the performance of the company and its members. It greatly improves the quality of staff and work-life by building stronger relationships and motivating each person to give their best in order to be chosen for high profile projects and assignments. Mentoring is beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee by developing them both professionally and personally. Is your company part of this invaluable resource – mentoring at the workplace?

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