Workplace Mentoring: The Route to a Healthy Effective Culture

Workplace Mentoring: The Route to a Healthy Effective Culture

How do you ensure that your employees are engaged, happy and productive at their jobs? By developing the perfect balance between their extrinsic and intrinsic needs. You can always get the best talent on board by meeting their extrinsic needs such as a great remuneration and other allied benefits. 

But it will only be a matter of time before they start displaying the red signals of feeling disengaged at work unless their intrinsic needs of deriving meaning from their work, or working towards their personal and professional development are met!

How are the companies ensuring that they balance the extrinsic and intrinsic needs of an employee? By having a full-fledged mentorship programme in place!

Mentoring is the buzzword in the world of business, one that comes with its host of benefits. Statistics state that as many as 70% of the Fortune 500 companies have an official mentorship programme up and running. At its core, a mentorship programme is a formal training system under which a company leverages its existing resources to help, guide, train, advise, counsel etc., some of the new team members to help them better integrate into the company or even some experienced team members, to help them evolve better by understanding their needs, aspirations and motivations.

Let’s figure out how mentorship programmes can prove to be a sure-shot route to developing a healthy work culture in a workplace, by shedding some light on its benefits and how to implement and develop them at the same time!

Workplace Mentoring is the Route to Healthy Effective Culture!

Mentoring is a win-win concept, both for the mentor and the mentee. However, different models of mentoring can exist within the same organisation, depending upon the specific needs of the particular team member. It’s important to ensure that these models align with the operational goals of the organisation and can be implemented at the company level. Here are the types of mentoring programmes that can exist in the workplace:

1. One-on-One Mentoring:

This is the most common form of mentoring wherein the mentor is one or two positions higher than the mentee. He or she acts as a role model for the mentee and is generally someone they can relate to being in the same position as the mentee. This type of mentoring offers equal benefits to both parties as it lays the foundation for a consistent long-lasting professional relationship.

2. E-Mentoring:

This form of  mentoring,is quite popular with the hi-speed internet generation of today. It’s a flexible model that surpasses geographical locations by providing mentorship through a variety of virtual tools such as emails, social media, video conferencing etc. 

Professionals who are constantly on the run or work round the clock can benefit from this form of mentoring. Plus, it also expands the number of suitable members to wherever the particular organisation has a physical workplace.

3. Reverse Mentoring:

The workplaces of today are composed of a mix of different generations working together. This model helps build a cohesive culture amongst them by enhancing communication. 

Under reverse mentoring, millennials get a chance to become the mentor and teach the older generations the different uses and techniques of going tech-savvy. The younger lot in the workplace understands the needs of their mentees and tries to get them on the same page especially tech-wise.

4. Peer Mentoring:

The most underrated yet somehow effective , peer to peer mentoring involves having a mentoring relationship amongst the peers. Some of the features of this model include motivating each other, calling out each other on spotting beneficial opportunities, giving objective feedback for better outcomes etc.

How To Identify Mentors

5. Group Mentoring:

Instead of one-on-one mentoring, this form of mentoring consists of one mentor and a group of multiple mentees at the same time. Again, this form of mentoring is devoid of any limitations of geography and can take place across different locations.

What are the Benefits of Having a Mentorship Programme?

1. Promotes Overall Development:

Employees feel much more confident and stable when they know they can lean on a mentor, under their able guidance. It’s easier for them to take risks or even make healthy mistakes because they understand that it is part of the learning process. This only gets better as it also helps employees to try out new things and stay innovative.

2. Creates Learning Culture:

A workplace mentorship programme is reason enough for any employee to place his trust in an organisation, as it clearly shows the company’s bend towards creating a culture that promotes learning and development. They know their career development is taken care of as getting paired with a mentor means their future is invested in. They are able to sustain better as the environment is collaborative and full of opportunities to learn.

3. Better Job Satisfaction and Lesser Turnover:

This point is validated by a live case study of Sun Microsystems where a mentorship programme was implemented. Mentors who were a part of it were promoted six times more than those not in the programme. Similarly, retention rates were 72% for mentees and 69% for mentors than those who did not participate, for whom it was 49%. 

A good mentorship programme helps increase job satisfaction levels and thus bringing down the attrition rate.

4. Decreases Stress and Anxiety:

A mentor is like a ‘guru’ or the ‘go-to’ person for a mentee at the workplace. It is quite natural for a mentee to hesitate or have second thoughts about going to their manager or team members in case they are facing a particular issue. What if the mentee is having trouble keeping up with the manager himself? He/she can always turn to his/her mentor, to lend an ear and put them at ease, thus resulting in decreased stress and anxiety at the workplace.

5. Mentor Benefits:

The general thumb-rule behind a mentor-mentee relationship is that the mentee is the one who gains and the mentor is the giver. However, the mentor benefits from this relationship equally well. According to a study conducted in 2013 named ‘Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Mentors’, mentors felt a stronger sense of commitment with the organisation and thus were more satisfied with their jobs as compared to the other non-mentors. 

How to Identify Mentors?

The employers can identify mentors with the help of the following traits in an employee:

1. Manages Relationships:

A mentor is someone who takes full responsibility for the mentee, someone who displays a strong bend towards building a rapport with others and develop good relationships. He is someone who makes everyone around them feel comfortable, which is a very important trait as a mentor.

2. Good Listener:

An employee who possesses good listening skills can turn out to be a good mentor, as the first step towards building a strong mentor-mentee relationship is to hear them out. He/she should be able to reflect well and come up with an objective point of view to help out the other. He or she should be someone who can wear the hat of a counsellor when required.

3. Role Model:

If you have a team member who acts as a role model for many others within your organisation, chances are you have spotted your mentor. Such a team member will be looked upon as someone responsible and great at handling even difficult situations with a sense of ease.

4. Friendly:

A friendly team member is liked by all, but a team member who possesses most of the above qualities and is friendly at the same time is a feather in the hat! Mentors are supposed to be friends first and mentors later, for  a positive mentor-mentee bond to exist. He or she should be able to motivate, encourage, reflect, and draw out positives from within the mentee.

How to Build and Implement an Effective Mentorship Programme?

Building An Effective Mentorship Programme

Having a solid mentorship programme can do wonders for an organisation. Large corporations like KPMG, Deloitte, and Boeing have long recognised the positives of having one and run world-class mentorship programmes to keep their employees happy and motivated at work. Many times organisations may be at a loss as to how to implement a successful mentorship programme, in order to bring out the best out of them. Here’s how to go about it:

1. Have a Purpose First:

Without a purpose in sight, the mentorship programme will not be successful. Therefore, it is very important to have a defined purpose in mind, both for the company and the participants. Begin by evaluating skills gaps in the business. What are you trying to achieve out of the programme, is it an improvement in customer service, or achieve higher sales for the year or transfer key knowledge across departments and teams? If you have the purpose in place, it becomes easier to set clear objectives against the same, objectives that are measurable. For example: if a company is looking to develop leadership skills within their existing staff base, the objective behind their mentorship programme may be to recruit five senior-level managers through internal recruitment within the next year.

Doing this will also give you an insight into who should participate in the programme, both from a mentor and the mentee’s point of view. Questions like who possesses these skills or knowledge and which individual need and ambitions would align with the goals of mentoring will become easy to answer.

2. Planning Phase:

Like any good programme needs a proper plan to get executed well, a well-planned mentorship programme will go a long way in achieving what an organisation wants out of it. List out and arrange for the different logistics that would be required in the course of the programme, like:

  • What is the expected duration of the entire programme?
  • Who will monitor the mentor-mentee relationships?
  • What will be the maximum time gap between two consecutive mentor-mentee meetings?
  • How often the process of feedback collection will take place?
  • What will be the preferred channels of communication between the mentor and the mentee?
  • What should the mentoring relationship focus on? For example: Day-today performance or a defined goal?
  • What should be the structure of the mentor-mentee relationship?

The structure of the mentorship programme can be customised depending on the requirement, the mentor can be paired with an individual or a group of mentees. Most corporate mentorship programmes practice one-on-one mentoring, whereas start-ups generally prefer group mentoring, as most mentees belong to the same age group and are at similar career levels.

3. Spread the Word:

A mentorship programme cannot be enforced by mandatory participation, in fact, the participants need to be given the right to choose to opt for it. But voluntary participation may not come that easy. Mentees may end up feeling awkward, being quite open about their workplace issues, expectations or simply learning new things from a mentor. On the other hand, the mentor may have second thoughts on whether the programme overall will be worth their time or efforts or not. This makes publicising about the benefits of the mentorship programme an absolute must. To do this, select a set of key executives within the organisation to become advocates for the mentorship programme, to highlight how the mentors and mentees will benefit out of it and spread seeds of positivity amongst their peers.

4. Train Mentors:

In the whole mentorship programme, ensure the mentors get their due. It is important to understand that mentors may not always be born with it, they have to be given the perfect environment to emerge as the mentor. It’s up to the organisation to set their mentors up for success. Companies can provide proper mentorship training that helps them to develop knowledge and skills like:

  • Listening and communication skills
  • Inspirational leadership skills
  • Constructive feedback skills
  • Patience and enthusiasm
  • Knowledge of company policies and procedures
  • Knowledge of different teaching tools
  • Observation skills

Also, let the mentors understand the negatives of micromanaging. They should be able to draw out the limits of their involvement in the programme, i.e. when to take a hands-on approach and when to let the mentee make their mistakes and learn from them.

5. Make Careful Matches:

A successful mentor and mentee match is made in an organisation that really wants to bring out the best of the whole mentorship programme. Randomly matching or pairing mentors-mentees may lead to more damage than benefits. Consider the following factors before bringing them together:

  • Compatible personalities
  • Similar interests and hobbies
  • Experience and skills that matches with the mentee’s career goals
  • Similar generation

Alternatively, you can also let the mentees decide who they want to choose as their mentors. As an organisation, try to give out as much information about the other person, to help them make an informed decision.

6. Check Progress:

The successful completion of the mentorship programme is possible only when you revisit the goals and objectives that were set at the start and how much of it has been achieved. Gather feedback from the participants, the perceived benefits and stay open to any recommendations or corrections for implementing future mentorship programmes.   

There is no right time to start implementing a mentorship programme in your organisation, if you don’t already have one. So go ahead and leverage this tool to build an effective work culture, which will benefit the organisation as a whole.


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