As a new hire, entering a new environment can be incredibly intimidating. Especially during the first few months, it is crucial for new hires to have sufficient resources to support them in their new role. A smoother transition to a new culture and new responsibilities can be achieved through effective mentorship.
Why is mentorship important in the workplace?
Mentorship provides many benefits to the mentee, the mentor, and the organization as a whole. As a mentee, mentorship serves as an opportunity to gain insider knowledge of the culture and the internal processes of the organization. Assimilation to workplace culture can be a struggle for many mentees. Having a resource who has worked for the company longer to ask questions about the workplace environment can help ease some of the initial awkwardness. Mentors can also help mentees navigate the simple issues that a mentee faces such as feedback on a deliverable, or even larger scale situations such as what future opportunities to explore within the organization. A more experienced perspective on how to handle these issues both big and small can truly help ensure that new hires are set up for success.
From a mentor perspective, mentorship is a great opportunity to make an impact and demonstrate leadership. Effectively communicating constructive feedback, improved time management, and opportunities for self-reflection can further provide professional development for mentors. This commitment to supporting others within the organization is a great demonstration of responsibility and may increase the chances of promotion consideration.
Organizations benefit from mentorship as it can help to reduce unhappiness and turnover rates.
Given all the benefits of mentorship, what is the best way to be a successful mentor?
- Dedicating One-on-one Time Early On
If possible, set up an in-person coffee chat or lunch early on. An early opportunity to get to know each other and allow the mentee to ask any burning questions. During this conversation an important topic to discuss is what this mentorship relationship will look like. Frequency and means of communication as well as what can be done to set them up for success within the organization are great things to establish within the first meeting.
2. Encouragement of curiosity
Recognize that mentors are supposed to be a stress-free resource to help mentees. Create a safe space for asking questions that is free of judgement or harsh criticism. Mentees may pose questions that seem to have an obvious answer. Recall that everyone comes into an organization with different skill sets and experiences, and there may be gaps that a mentee needs additional guidance for.
Early on after joining a new organization, employees may be interested in learning about other careers and future opportunities. Encourage the exploration of other career paths within the organization and share personal career path experiences.
3. Sharing Personal Experience
Building a relationship with a mentee that has open communication can be difficult. Sharing personal stories and experiences can help to break the initial uncomfortability. Reflecting on areas of personal struggle during the early stages of joining the firm can identify different areas to provide insider tips/ information to ease initial difficulties for a mentee. Providing specific tips and feedback based on personal learning is the best way to both help a mentee and develop a stronger relationship.
4. Facilitate Relationships with Seniors
Developing relationships with senior members within an organization may be daunting to new employees. As a mentor, it is extremely important to help mentees communicate and develop relationships with senior or experienced employees. This can be a pivotal component of a mentee's future success within the organization as the networking may open opportunities for future positions that align with their interests.
5. Hold Frequent Check-ins
A successful practice for effective mentorship is frequent check-ins. Waiting for mentees to reach out may prove difficult as sometimes mentees may hesitate to reach out about their concerns. Periodically sending messages and regular meetings with mentees can ensure that there is ample opportunity for questions and the development of a relationship.
6. Gather Ideas from Peers
When mentoring a new employee, it can be helpful to gather insights from peers on mentorship tactics that were successful. Reaching out to colleagues or even previous personal mentors can be a great way to learn about mentorship. Another way to gather insights from peers is through joining a horizontal mentorship group to also experience the mentorship experience from a different perspective. Groups such as horizontal mentorship groups are great opportunities to learn from peers within the industry and to learn how to be a more effective leader. Within these groups, ideas can be shared and real-time feedback can be received.
A key component of being a successful mentor is being a strong role model for mentees. Following correct practices within an organization, recognizing when other resources are necessary to help solve a problem, and an overall positive attitude go a long way in effective mentorship. Remember that this role requires commitment, so before volunteering to be a mentor consider the time required for the role and if it is manageable. Another consideration is that Mentorship doesn’t have an expiration date. A good mentor-mentee relationship can extend past the company-mandated timeline. Also, feel free to serve as a mentor to any new hire that asks for additional mentorship. Mentorship doesn’t require a formal written title in order to build a mentor relationship with new hires.
A mentor’s goal is to provide assistance to new employees and guide their experience throughout the organization at an appropriate pace. Keep in mind that all mentorship relationships look different and developing strong mentor skills takes time and trial-and-error. Be patient and attentive to mentees, and there will be growth.