Mentoring is an increasingly popular way of helping new employees settle in to a new position or a new company.
When new members of staff join a company, they can really appreciate having a mentor on hand to guide them and advise them about their role, the company and career progression. Being able to mentor a new colleague also has reciprocal benefits for mentors – it can be really fulfilling being able to share skills and experience with someone who is keen to learn more. Professionally, it benefits all concerned.
When IT firm Sun Microsystems looked at the career progression of around 1,000 employees over a period of five years, they found that mentoring appeared to be an excellent career choice:
- People who had been involved in a mentoring programme, either as a mentor or mentee, were 20% more likely to have been awarded a pay rise in the period studied.
- Mentees were five times more likely to have been promoted than employees who didn’t have mentors.
- Mentors did even better; they were six times more likely to have been promoted than those not involved in a mentoring programme.
A good mentor will able to provide guidance for their mentee in the skills that are necessary for their particular area of work, and introduce them to the right contacts, resources and professional groups that will help them in their role. They offer practical help and support, and in some cases can become a trusted ally, being a good source of advice for any problems that might crop up during the mentoring period and beyond.
So, what are the benefits for a mentor?
A chance to develop leadership skills: One of the key strengths of a good leader is an ability to inspire others, and through mentoring an experienced staff member can provide inspiration for new employees. Mentoring junior and inexperienced staff can boost a mentor’s existing leadership abilities and also helps to provide an opportunity to develop these skills in a way that benefits all concerned.
Improves the mentor’s own performance: A mentor survey carried out by Durham University in 2009, found that mentors believed the greatest benefit of mentoring others was that it gave them an opportunity to reflect on their own working practices. Explaining systems to other people can often reveal easier or more effective ways of carrying out key tasks. Having to explain the way that a company or organisation works to a complete newcomer can also help the mentor to gain a better understanding of it, which in turn can help them to improve on their own knowledge.
Helps to develop new skills: Being a mentor helps develop essential career related skills such as coaching, how to give (and to receive) feedback, and it also gives mentors an opportunity to share their own best practice, a skill that can be underdeveloped in some employees. One of the most important skills that can be boosted by a mentoring relationship is interpersonal skills; not only through the mentor-mentee relationship but also through the mentor making new contacts within the organisation, finding the right person to go to, and introducing the mentee to key personnel.
Job Satisfaction: There’s no denying that being able to guide another person through their career development, and being the ‘go-to’ person for somebody, can provide mentors with a great deal of job satisfaction. Jaded or uninspired staff members can find that their enthusiasm for their old role perks up no end when they are tasked with showing a new person the ropes, along with their sense of responsibility.
Personal Confidence: To be asked to mentor another person involves knowing a great deal about your own role, and assumes a certain level of competence, not just in the role, but in the individual’s interpersonal skills and commitment to the job. It can build up flagging confidence levels when an employee is asked to take on responsibility for another colleague’s introduction to the company, and improve their confidence levels through knowing that their employer trusts them to be able to carry out the mentoring process effectively.
Develops professional relationships: Being part of a recognised mentoring programme can make the mentor more visible within the company, enhancing peer recognition. The fact that the mentor has made the effort to become more involved in the organisation by being part of a mentoring scheme reflects well on them, and can help to improve their reputation.
Unlike traditional training programs mentoring programs are a cost-effective, time-effective and beneficial way to get new employees up to speed on their new role, and keep existing employees engaged in theirs.
Written by Michael Palmer, an Oxford based business graduate. He writes about people management and setting objectives for Cezanne HR.