Although mentoring has been around for years, mentoring is fast becoming a hot business trend once again. As organisations race to compete in our increasingly complex and challenging economy, they are re-defining traditional strategies supporting their most important asset - their people! Mentoring, one such strategy, is the focal point of my blog.
Employee mentoring, which is different to business mentoring, focuses more on the individual's development, rather than the overall needs and goals of a business. Either way, the success rates are high!
So what is employee mentoring?
Mentoring is a supportive form of employee training that many experts believe should be independent from other training activities. Mentoring usually takes place outside the conventional top-down employee-manager relationship. Instead, the mentee sets the agenda based on their own development needs, with the mentor providing guidance to help the mentee achieve their goals.
Although mentoring has always happened naturally within Sellick Partnership, we have recently formalised our scheme. As such, I have begun mentoring Kathryn Beal from our West Midlands office - so far I have thoroughly enjoyed it and can already see the benefits of our newly formed relationship - most importantly for Kathryn but also myself. I see mentoring as building relationships. Through these relationships with others from whom we can learn, or who we can help to learn, everyone wins - the mentor, the mentee or 'buddy' and the business!
Our mentoring scheme forms part of our training and development programme and is in place to offer employees' additional support and encouragement with their career and development at Sellick Partnership. By working with a colleague outside of the day-to-day working environment we hope that a relationship will be developed allowing the mentee to explore new ideas, concerns and areas for development, all in confidence; as well as developing important business skills that are required for a professional career in recruitment.
When I was assigned to Kathryn I decided to carry out some research on what it is to be a successful mentor. The following is what I personally found most useful, in helping me to understand what I can do to help:
As a mentor, you will sometimes need to be a coach, sometimes a motivator, or guide, counsellor, role model, or provider of contacts. To excel in these roles, you will need to:
- Help the mentee to focus his or her efforts and to clarify personal goals
- Prompt the mentee to develop effective strategies and act as devil's advocate to challenge them
- Help the mentee to identify appropriate resources, contacts and role models
- Share knowledge and wisdom based on your own experiences
- Act personally as a source of inspiration and motivation, while maintaining confidentiality
Effective mentoring approaches include techniques such as:
- Asking penetrating questions to help the mentee distinguish 'real' issues from apparent ones
- Accepting the mentee unconditionally, asking "how" or "what" rather than "why"
- Listening actively to the mentee feelings as well as to the words
- Volunteering your observations where appropriate
- Avoiding the role of personal 'fixer' of your mentee's problems. Instead, help him or her learn how to develop problem-solving skills. These skills will help in their overall development.
In my opinion a good mentor should help the employee build skills rather than doing the job for them and allow them to come to a natural conclusion about which way to take their career forward, without any personal agenda.
Hopefully I can do just this in my new role as a mentor - watch this space…