It’s often assumed that employee mentoring programmes are solely there to help new staff find their feet in the workplace and develop the necessary skills and qualities that will ultimately make them fit in and be productive. This may well be true, but it also undersells what is a vitally important aspect of the philosophy of mentoring – that mentors stand to benefit from the process too. Employees who are coached and mentored will naturally receive significant benefits from the programme and will undoubtedly feel empowered once the process is completed: however, mentors stand to gain from the process too, and will feel satisfied and empowered by the results of a job well done. Mentoring programmes have unquestionably been proven to work, but can there ever be such a thing as a generic mentoring programme? Will a programme that works in one industry be suitable for other sectors? Can there ever be a one-size-fits-all mentoring programme? Well, unsurprisingly the answer is no: every workplace needs to develop its own learning strategy and determine what essential elements should be incorporated into its bespoke coaching or mentoring programme. However, there are certain key qualities and characteristics that are shared by all successful mentoring programmes.
Hands-on learning on the job
All coaching and mentoring programmes aim to give all new employees hands-on training in a real working environment. Instead of throwing new employees straight into the deep end, coaching helps them to learn as they go along with the help and support of a mentor who understands the challenges of the role: the mentors will at one time have been in the same position and will therefore be empathetic. A well-structured and carefully-considered mentoring programme will not only instruct the employee on the basic duties of the role: it will also breed a sense of confidence and belief. Mentored employees will generally get a better understanding of the requirements of the role by working alongside an experienced peer. This on -the-job, personalised training will ultimately empower the employee to perform his or her duties more efficiently and productively.
The best and most effective coaching and mentoring programmes will always include setting goals as an important part of the learning experience. The mentor will work with the mentee to set specific job-related goals. The goals don’t have to be set in stone, as the nature of the job may demand a certain degree of flexibility. The role of the mentor is to set certain standards and to be there to support and encourage the mentee as he or she strives to meet these targets. Some mentors go beyond the basic requirements and set their mentees challenging goals. Inevitably this will encourage and empower the employee to work over and above the minimum requirements of the role and therefore brings its own sense of satisfaction.
Fostering a sense of independence
Whilst a mentor…