Credit: Sarah Edwards (because she said so)
Mentoring occurs when a more experienced or knowledgeable person (or dog) helps to guide a less experienced or knowledgeable person (or dog). It’s really a partnership between someone with more experience and expertise and someone who wants to learn.
I’ve recently become a mentor to my nephew, Luca. And, I take my job as a wise teacher very seriously. Trust me, Luca has a lot to learn. For instance, he recently chewed up one of his person’s favorite shoes. As you can imagine, this did not go over well. (It’s a good thing that what he lacks in smarts, he makes up for in cuteness!)
Mentoring is new to me, but it’s been around a long time. Did you know that mentorship has its roots in Ancient Greece? Yep, the word was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer’s Odyssey.
Lately, mentoring is making a comeback – and for good reason. It works!
4 Ways Mentoring Can Benefit Your Business
In fact, stats show that a well-designed mentoring program, especially for new employees, can positively impact your bottom. Build a better more knowledgeable workforce, while reaping the following benefits:
Better Performance: Make new employees feel more secure by giving them a mentor to answer questions, help navigate the workplace and provide support. Additionally, mentoring can improve communication and boost performance. It can also keep a newbie from getting into trouble. Just yesterday, Luca was almost attacked by an angry mother goose! Thank goodness I was there to intervene.
New Skill Development: Help employees develop expertise and acquire abilities faster with a mentoring partnership. This leads to increased productivity, along with improved collaboration and workplace relationships. Recently, for example, I showed Luca how to walk nicely with his person and play fetch, which made his person very happy and led to spending more time together.
Enhanced Workplace: Increase job satisfaction for both the mentor and mentee. Studies show mentoring reduces stress levels for employees, fosters idea generation, and forms stronger bonds. Employees who are mentored are generally better at collaborating with others and understanding the benefits of teamwork. I taught Luca that working in an office with people requires good social skills (i.e., no jumping on people, no peeing indoors, no stealing of food). There have been a few “accidents,” but I think he’s is finally catching on.
Employee Retention: When you create a better working environment, you’re more likely to retain good employees. In addition, mentoring helps new employees feel like they “belong.” Let employees contribute to the company in a meaningful way and they are more likely to be satisfied. Think about it – if a person is receiving support, learning new skills, and making contributions, why would they leave? Mentees are also more likely to stay, because they’re gaining invaluable leadership skills and making a difference in their mentee’s career. Personally, I find showing Luca the ropes very rewarding. When he looks up at me in admiration with those blue/brown eyes, I feel like the biggest dog in the world (no pun intended).
Just Look at the Stats
Mentoring is so effective, that 71% of Fortune 500 companies are using formal mentoring programs, especially when onboarding new employees. What’s more, many executives attribute their own success to their mentors.
Take a look at these statistics on employee mentoring:
- 80% of learning takes place between mentors and mentees.
- 75% of private sector executives say mentoring has been critical in their own career development. When you create leaders through mentoring, you’re sharing a skill set between experienced individuals and new employees, investing in the future of your organization.
- 77% of companies with mentoring programs say they improve employee retention and job performance. Studies show that employees are retained longer, work harder, and produce better quality work when they feel content in the workplace. And employees who’ve been mentored express greater workplace contentment.
- 79% of millennials believe “mentorship programs are crucial to their career success.” This is especially important because by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials.
- 81% of millennials with mentors report they’re happy with them, and they’re twice as likely to stay with a company for more than 5 years. That’s a 68% retention rate versus an average of 32%. That’s a huge benefit considering each lost employee can cost 1.5-2X their annual salary.
Essential Mentoring Ingredients
Of course, in order for a mentoring relationship to work, there needs to be a few essential ingredients:
Compatibility: Make sure you consider personalities before matching up mentors and mentees. Good partners need to be able to talk easily and must want to help each other. Forcing a relationship rarely works. For example, a high-strung Terrier and a mellow Great Dane (like myself) might not be the best combination. (Too much yipping gives me a headache.)
Mutual rewards: Make it a win-win situation with two-way communication and learning. A mentor should be willing to learn from his mentee, as well as provide advice and guidance. And, a mentee should contribute in a meaningful way instead of expecting to only receive professional help. It’s true – I’ve learned a lot from my little protégé. I used to think that a good hard whack with my giant paw was the best way to get a treat. As it turns out, taking a gentler approach is more effective.
Clear expectations and goals: Be sure to set realistic expectations from both parties, as well as clear objectives. Are you training this person for a specific promotion? Are there certain skills that are more important than others? Is there a goal, such as making successful sales presentations, that you’re working toward? Luca and I are working on basic dog-person etiquette.
As my protégé or mentee, Luca is learning important skills to help him improve his bonds with people, as well as stay safe. In return, he reminds me daily not to lose the puppy in me. I’ve also learned how to be a better dog (trying to set a good examples has made me think twice about certain behaviors).
In short, implement a cost-effective “perk” for your employees with a mentoring program. You’ll improve both your culture and your bottom line.