As a manager, one of your myriad duties is the professional development of your employees. Mentoring your employees helps them perform better, improves morale, and can help your business succeed.
Most employees yearn to grow their skills with the aid of a knowledgeable, more senior member of their team. Want to take a more active role in mentoring your staff? Try these tips:
- Set the stage for a dialogue. Call a meeting or send an e-mail informing your staff that mentoring is available. Let them know you will match them with an in-house mentor who will help them plan how to reach their career goals. Encourage your employees to think about what they’d most like to develop with the input of a more senior staff member. Remind your senior staffers that they, too, can benefit from the mentoring relationship from the influx of new ideas that can be stimulated by a junior colleague’s fresh approach to projects.
- Buddy up. Consider it a kind of matchmaking — send your staffers and more senior members, or mentors, off to discuss past experiences and future goals over lunch or coffee. Pairing those who have fewer years in the business with those who’ve got a wealth of proven experience is a great way to get a fresh exchange of ideas flowing. These pairings needn’t be exactly in line along the hierarchy; all that’s important is that the two parties can learn something from one another. It’s also a good idea to take personalities into account, if possible, in matching employees with mentors.
- Listen Openly. For one-on-one conversations between junior and senior staffers, encourage both parties to abandon their preconceptions. Instead of “right” or “wrong” ways of meeting challenges, encourage them to approach problems or projects by finding ways that work to replace ways that don’t. Neutralizing this language promotes an open dialogue in which both parties’ ideas are equally valid. This parity will encourage the conversation to move freely and ensure that both the senior and junior staffer emerge with new ideas.
- Think Strategically. One of the best by-products of mentoring is the slew of novel approaches it can engender. Once your staffers have met to discuss their professional goals and new methods of achieving them, be open to applying these ideas. They may not always work, but with patience and perseverance on all sides, successes will be achieved and staffers will see that their mentoring conversations produce tangible, actionable results that enhance their performance.
While mentoring may seem at first to be a one-way street, benefiting the recipient of the mentoring, it invigorates everyone involved. Mentors are stimulated by the active need for their skills, while they can learn from the junior employee, who brings a fresh outlook and new ideas to what might feel like old hat for the senior staffer. Mentoring can boost communication, inject new ideas into old formulas, and promote a satisfying, more open work environment — all of which benefits your bottom line.