Developing Strong Leaders Through Strategic Mentoring

Leadership Development Through Strategic Mentoring

When the HR department sets out to fill a position, there are many details to consider. Sometimes, an entry-level addition just makes sense. Companies hire entry-level or less experienced candidates for a myriad of reasons, including: the candidate will accept a lower salary, they possess a higher level of enthusiasm, or they’re a better cultural fit.

Having less experienced employees come aboard isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What they lack in experience they may make up in a fresh perspective, dependability, work ethic, and drive. One of the most enticing aspects of hiring a less experienced candidate is the benefit of being able to mentor and mold them into the employee that you really need for the position.

Tips for Developing a Mentorship Program Within Your Organization

In order for the act of hiring entry-level employees to pay off, your company should first have a mentorship program in place. One of the most important aspects of a mentorship program is matching mentors and mentees. Matching individuals correctly can be what makes or breaks a mentoring relationship. Some best practices for matching are:

  • Identify Goals. By setting specific objectives for what each party would like to get out of the mentorship, you can match mentors and mentees who are on the same page. If the two individuals have similar goals, the relationship is more likely to thrive.
  • Make it Formal. For some, filling out an application or signing an agreement for a mentorship may seem elaborate. However, making the process formal ensures commitment from both parties, giving the arrangement a trajectory for success.
  • Match by Criteria and Program Needs–But Keep it Simple. With mentoring, one size doesn’t fit all. It’s important to take into account each mentor’s strengths and knowledge-base, as well as each mentee’s needs. However, the match doesn’t need to be a “perfect match.” It’s almost impossible to match every single criteria requested by each party. Instead, choose the top three criteria and go from there.
  • Manual or Automatic Matching? Depending on the size of your mentoring program, it may be beneficial to use an online matching system. However, if your mentor and mentee pools are smaller, it could be worth spending the time and effort to have mentees choose their mentors. The nature of a mentorship where the mentee chooses the mentor themselves based on certain criteria may be more organic and more likely to have a positive outcome.

Activities for Mentors and Mentees

Now that your mentors and mentees are paired up, it’s time that they decide on objectives, set regular check-ins, and simply make time for one another. Here are a few specific things that mentors and mentees can do to get in sync:

  • Create an action plan. With objectives in mind, set out to create actionable items, create timelines, and gain an understanding of each party’s role.
  • Discuss strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. With these items in mind, mentors can help develop the right mentoring experience.
  • Recommend readings and videos or e-learning courses. Having been in the industry longer, there’s a good chance that mentors can recommend some great materials or e-learning courses to help mentees learn the skills needed to progress within their role.
  • Regularly give feedback and review. Keep the mentorship relationship fresh with regular communication and feedback.

 Navigating Modern Mentoring

When you think of mentoring, you may picture an older and wiser executive who takes a younger and less experienced individual under their wing. While this may have been the traditional format, the rate at which businesses are changing and developing requires mentors to have access to updated information that changes quickly and sometimes, unexpectedly. Because of this shift in the speed at which information changes, many times, the right mentor for your less experienced staff member may not be all that much older than their mentee is.

Because of how quickly information changes, it’s important to have a system that allows mentors and mentees alike to gain new information quickly and efficiently. One of the best ways to convey new standards and best practices is by integrating an LMS. With an LMS in place, you can ensure that both mentors and mentee are up-to-date on the latest best practices within your industry.

Mentoring Millennials

Did you know that the oldest baby boomers are now 70 years old? With the baby boomer generation’s retirement on the horizon, many companies are asking, “how can we retain our millennial workforce?”

The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey reports that 63% of millennials say that their leadership skills are not being fully developed. According to Forbes, “It’s safe to say that companies who fail to invest in the area of developing young employees are likely to lose them.”

With the face of the workforce changing so rapidly, mentoring is more important than ever to ensure that less experienced employees gain all the information they need to succeed within their current role, and future roles.

Mentoring Meets LMS

Streamline the mentorship and learning process within your organization with a learning management system (LMS). By pairing mentorship with a competency management system and e-learning initiatives, you can further build the skills sets of your staff and retain top talent.

Having a learning management system in place means that staff can easily stay up-to-date with industry standards and best practices. Also, implementing an LMS is more affordable than you might think–even for small businesses!

Learn more about why your company can benefit from an LMS on our blog.

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