Most companies hold performance evaluations annually, but feedback during these sessions isn’t always helpful if for the rest of the year you leave employees without the resources and coaching they need to address areas of growth and improvement. The good news is that providing mentorship opportunities doesn’t have to be a full-time job. We’ve put together five effective strategies — based on what we’ve learned from mentoring and talent development agency Chronus Corporation and E. Wayne Hart, author of Seven Keys to Successful Mentoring — that lay the foundation for employee development. They aren’t things you have to do every day, nor do you have to set aside hours to do them. Trust us, investing the time and effort to do this yields long-term results, loyal workers, and ultimately, a boost to your business’s bottom line.
1. Commit to a plan
Commitment to consistency is key. There’s no value in offering your services to mentees if you can’t dedicate the time and effort to see it through over an extended period of time, according to Management Mentors. So, if you’re willing to commit, choose the person you want to mentor, start by setting goals and scheduling regular check-in meetings, and then work on charting progress. It helps to align mentee goals to the company’s organizational agenda to drive results toward shared goals and keep employees engaged by feeling like they’re directly contributing to the business’s bottom line.
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2. Lead by example
E. Wayne Hart and Management Mentors talk about something they call model behavior — making sure that your attitude and actions demonstrate the ethics, values, standards, and procedures that define your company and that you want your mentees to embody. Depending on your company size, it may not be possible to shoulder this burden alone. That’s when it’s important to create layers of mentors throughout the company. You set the tone for your managers, and in turn, they do the same for their teams. In other words, make mentoring part of the entire company’s DNA. Another way to set the tone is to create opportunities to mentor the whole company at one time. Sound impossible? It’s actually pretty easy. Just schedule quick weekly or monthly sessions in the form of something like a town hall to update employees on how the business is doing, solicit feedback, and share success stories.
3. Look for teaching and guiding moments
As mentor, you get to play teacher by sharing your knowledge and experiences and by recommending assignments to your mentees that will help them grow and develop professionally. Hart cautions against giving your mentees all the answers straight out. Part of your job as a mentor is to lead your mentees to thinking critically and solving problems on their own. He suggests thinking of yourself as a sounding board and personal advisor who helps guide mentees to their own conclusions.
4. Foster connections
Hart also talks about the mentor as sponsor. Always look out for opportunities for your mentees, advocate on their behalf in management meetings, and connect them with people in your network.
5. Survey the scene and act from above
As a mentor, you can also act as protector. Hart says to keep a watchful eye by looking out for both threatening organizational forces and positive opportunities. And from your position higher on the food chain, you have the unique ability to identify low-visibility versus high-visibility projects and help your mentees get noticed for their work.