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How to Boost Employee Development with Mentoring

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 10:24 PM

employee development and mentoringEvery industry—and in fact, most every company—has a unique set of needs when it comes to recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent. But across the board, employee development can be bolstered by a common support: mentoring.

Roughly 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer formalized mentoring programs to enhance talent development. In fact, as more organizations realize the benefits of mentor/mentee relationships, new tools and technologies are emerging to facilitate the connection. Ideal pairs can now find each other faster, and communicate more freely across departments or oceans.

Still, it’s not always an easy sell. If your managers and leaders aren’t willing to participate in mentoring relationships (or aren’t given clear guidelines on how to participate), you’re bound to incur frustration in the form of misaligned goals and expectations. Worse, you might be seeing higher turnover among newer employees. Here’s a perfect example…

Recently a manufacturing executive sent her employee development/mentoring concerns to the editors at Workforce.com. She wondered how her company could convince senior employees to mentor new hires, especially when many of the veterans felt threated. I was glad for the opportunity to weigh in on this important question. You can read the Cliff’s Notes version below:

Be Transparent

Employees shouldn’t come to work with fears of losing their positions. Beyond annual performance reviews, line managers should be offering regular feedback and individualized coaching so employees don’t have to guess where they stand. Veterans should trust their role as knowledgeable, valued employees, and feel confident about their career trajectory. If downsizing or restructuring is a distinct possibility, that reality should be communicated, too.

Incentivize Mentoring

Effective mentoring is difficult to measure and therefore difficult to incentivize. But there are ways to integrate it into your core company values and make it a shared priority. Remember too that mentoring supports informal knowledge transfer while reducing employee turnover, and can often be tied to major cost savings. Let your teams know how they can share in these benefits.

Provide Mentoring Tools

If you oversee a large mentoring program, let participants find one another via online employee profiles or even mentor-match software. Think about your teleconferencing/videoconferencing options and how they support the different metrics in your mentor performance rubric. More simply, be sure people have the time and the physical space required to step away from their immediate job demands.

Model Mentoring and Employee Development from the Top Down

Who should participate in employee development and mentoring? Everyone. Demonstrate that mentoring is not just for “new blood.”

Incorporate mentoring into your onboarding process so multiple departments can play a role. Offer job rotation assignments to help newer employees establish contacts and identify prospective mentors in other units. Your veteran employees are more likely to participate if they know their direct reports will also have opportunities to shine in other departments and potentially make lateral moves.

Learn more about retaining and engaging your workforce

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Written by Susan Cullen

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