The Art of Mentoring: Why It’s Important and How It Improves the Employee Experience
Competitive pay, a great company culture, and generous PTO may have been the essential trio for employers seeking to build an amazing employee experience — yet today, many are finding these benefits only scratch the surface.
Instead, employees are looking to work for organizations that offer growth and development opportunities, have a mission and purpose that they align with, and much more.
According to a recent study, 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if they were offered opportunities to learn and grow. While there are many ways to support career pathing, one key area that organizations must support is mentoring.
Mentoring not only provides equal development opportunities to all employees, it also enables companies to keep their employees’ skills in sync with the evolving world of work while developing a stronger workforce, encouraging career mobility, and elevating the employee experience.
Types of mentoring
While there are many different types of mentoring relationships, organizations, mentors, and mentees should identify what style(s) work best for them.
1-1 mentoring: The most traditional of all types of mentoring. Only the mentor and mentee are involved in this type of mentoring — usually a more experienced individual paired with a less experienced or much younger mentee.
Distance or e-mentoring: A 1-to-1 relationship facilitated by technology. Participants can connect virtually without losing the personal touch of 1-1 mentoring (Skype, email, etc.).
Situational mentoring: Used for a short period of time with the goal of targeting a specific issue or purpose, such as preparing for a new assignment.
Group or team mentoring: A program that consists of a mentor with several mentees, or a mentee with several mentors. This model is commonly used by schools and youth programs.
Peer mentoring: This mentoring relationship is more reciprocal than hierarchical and aimed at promoting a sense of community. Participants usually have the same role or come from the same department. In some cases, they might share similar work and life experiences.
Reverse mentoring: An approach that flips the traditional model. A less experienced, often younger, employee mentors a more experienced individual, encouraging both parties to teach and learn at the same time.
Tap into the power of mentoring programs
Meaningful mentorships empower employees to build stronger, 1-to-1 relationships, giving them the career skills and knowledge they need to grow within an organization.
While they can make a big difference for your employees and your organization, there are a few things to know about starting — and maintaining — a powerful company-wide program.
When done right, mentoring can be leveraged to positively impact mentors, mentees, and boost not only the productivity of your organization as a whole, but also foster a culture of diversity and inclusion. You can start by focusing on the main areas that are important for you as an organization and create a foundation for your mentoring program:
Planning and goal-setting
Before starting or revamping your mentoring program, consider your objectives first.
- What is the vision you have for the program?
- What are you hoping to accomplish?
- If you’re revamping your program, what areas need improvement?
- Are your employees looking for help with specific areas of development?
- What will the mentor/mentee structure look like?
Define the purpose of your program (learning & development, diversity & inclusion etc.) and establish a concrete set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that will enable management to quantify the success of the program at its completion.
Also, consider how to handle potential challenges. For example, what will your procedure be if a mentee isn’t connecting well with their mentor?
When the right mentor and mentee come together, the positive impacts on the employee experience are boundless — however, matching mentors and mentees to each other is not a simple process. Matching is often one of the most challenging aspects of a program.
A great mentor-mentee relationship can help employees navigate their desired career path, discover both soft and hard skills, prepare for real-world challenges, and add increased value to the business.
There are many different types of mentoring matches — the typical options are self-directed or administrator matched. In many cases, this can be time-consuming and difficult to navigate. To simplify the process, many enterprises are embracing mentoring technology that leverages automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to quickly illuminate and connect employees based on skills, career paths, and goals.
But finding an initial and compatible match is just the beginning. AI-powered mentoring technology should support these new relationships and track their success, or failure. For example, Phenom Mentoring is designed to:
- Recommend available mentors based on suggested criteria
- Initiate and manage mentorships across the organization
- Track mentorship goals, objectives, session summaries, and resources
- Streamline the mentor request process based on compatibility
Mentoring programs can be highly impactful, but they can also become a source of frustration for mentors, mentees, and the organization as a whole if they’re unable to measure progress or success. Establishing your metrics for success is crucial.
This includes helping your mentees track their goals, asking participants and stakeholders how well the mentoring program met their goals, and looking at the overall impact of the program.
Here are a few key metrics you should be looking at:
- Number of participants and sign ups
- Number of active mentoring relationships
- Number of mentoring sessions
- Number of set and achieved goals
When analyzing the impact, it’s also important to compare data for employees who completed a mentoring partnership with those who haven’t. This data can show you what areas of your mentoring program may need improvement. Ask those who didn’t request a mentoring partnership, why they chose not to. Was there a specific reason why they weren’t interested?
You can also track the success of mentored versus non-mentored employees within your organization. This insight alone provides valuable feedback on the impact of your program.
Having the right platform that connects data points to the KPIs you are tracking, along with testimonials from your participants will help demonstrate ROI to your organization. These data analytics also help you visualize progress and build a complete picture of your mentoring program — one that is easily communicated and understood by your organization’s leadership team and other employees.
Mentoring is a two-way street
It’s important to remember that mentoring success does not happen overnight. Effective mentoring takes effort, and creating successful mentoring relationships requires specific skills, sensibilities, and structure from both the mentor and the mentee. To learn more about how you can leverage AI-powered Phenom Mentoring to elevate the employee experience, click here.