By Michelle Kiss /ClickTime
Two of the struggles that a lot of companies face are getting the new employees up to speed and sharing knowledge within the company. The most common excuse is that usually the experienced employees are too busy and don’t have the time to train the new hires. While the task can seem overwhelming, if performed right, everyone benefits from the results. Managers will have sooner one more skillful and knowledgeable team member that will bring value to the company. On the other side, the transition will be much smoother for the new employee if he or she is involved sooner in the “real” work.
The assigned mentors play a crucial role in integrating the new members into the team. For some people, mentoring comes naturally. For others, it’s more of a challenge. ClickTime shares 6 strategies how to mentor people effectively.
1.) Model the work ethic you teach
Frankly, the easiest way to mentor people is to be the employee you want them to be. Communicate well. Be friendly and supportive (or cutthroat and rude, if that’s what you’re after). Take on difficult tasks, and handle them with a smile.
There are many important characteristics of great mentors, one of which is good intuition. Hands-on teaching is great, but often the most powerful lessons are unspoken.
2.) Don’t give answers
Ah, isn’t it nice to regale employees with stories of your hard-won knowledge? Sure is. And isn’t it also nice to have to sit there while your mentor bores you silly telling endless stories? Yeah — not so much.
Good mentoring isn’t about telling employees what to do. It’s about pointing them in the right direction, then asking questions to help them figure things out. Give them tools and give them guidance. But if you’re telling them the answers, they’re not learning.
3.) Be a social assistant
Here’s one difference between being a good employer and being a good mentor: a good mentor helps run their mentee’s social calendar, facilitating meetings, coffee, or even short introductions with important people throughout the company. Your job as a mentor isn’t just to impart knowledge, it’s to use your networks to help your mentees’ careers.
This is great for you, because it forces you to know people across your company. It’s great for your company, since it gives more people the opportunity to share knowledge. And it’s best for your mentee, because it gives them connections that would otherwise take years to develop.
Selecting the right mentor is an important decision for mentees. Be sure to always have your mentee’s best interest at heart.
4.) Explain the unspoken
This is arguably the mentor’s biggest job. Despite written guidelines, most of what happens in a workplace follows unspoken rules. Teams tend to self-organize around people’s strengths and weaknesses, and over time accommodating different people’s quirks. The longer a team’s been together, the more entrenched these unspoken rules become.
As a mentor, you need to communicate this information to your mentee. Who should they not talk to until that person has had their morning coffee? Whom can you speak to honestly, and who do you have to stay careful around? Who is friends with whom? Who needs everything right away, and who is cool with waiting a day?
One bonus: the more you can articulate these things in words, the more opportunities there are to make things more efficient, or to improve team morale!
5.) Leave room for your mentee to be right
As the mentor, you might imagine you have all the answers. You’re partly right: you do have some of the answers. But the mentor relationship is also an opportunity for the people you mentor to have someone they can pitch ideas to, knowing that it will be ok to do so.
If you want the people you mentor to trust you, you should give some space for your them to come up with answers that are — at times — better than yours.
6.) Set shared goals
For a productive mentorship, work to create a set of shared goals. You can help your mentee figure out where they want to be and how they can get there, and you can figure out what you can do to help them achieve those goals. Maybe that means giving them a little more responsibility. Maybe it means passing their name along to a trusted colleague. Maybe it means giving the honest feedback that they need (but may not want to hear).
Focusing on the relationships first instead of just the activities
The point is to see mentorship as a relationship: a shared experience that should help both of you succeed.
Focusing on the relationship first, instead of just the activities, is one of the many things that best mentors do.
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