Mentoring Employees

How to Start a Mentor Program

Smart entrepreneurs and small business CEOs understand the importance of mentoring new employees. Implementing a mentoring program helps small business employees be more effective faster.

Starting a new job is arguably one of the most stressful experiences people face.

Mentoring Employees

Even if a new employee has great credentials, training, and experience - he or she does not have experience in your workplace. Adjusting to new people, a new environment, and new policies and procedures does take time and energy. However, a knowledgeable mentor can help make this adjustment period much easier on everyone.

Let's face it, every office or business has its own distinct subculture and mix of diverse personalities. These unique characteristics may require some finesse and creative navigation depending on the particular office environment.

But, new employees can avoid a great deal of stress if they are paired with knowledgeable mentors who can provide practical advice and tips to help new employees around the office and in the break room.

The system can be formal or informal. However, it should help the new employee understand how to do his or her job in a new setting with all of its written and unwritten rules, office politics, policies and procedures.

  • Who makes a good mentor? A mentor should be someone that a new employee can relate to easily. Look for people who are effective at communicating with a number of different personality types. People who are generally open to helping others are better candidates than those who get agitated by frequent interruptions or those who like to gripe and complain. An ideal mentor is generally a well-respected individual who does not get caught up in office gossip or cliques. However, the mentor should not be the new employee's direct supervisor.
  • Make a good match? Take into consideration issues like age and experience when pairing people together. It might be fine for the twenty-something person to mentor an entry-level employee. However, being paired with a twenty-something employee might be considered offensive to a new hire whose work experience started when junior was in diapers. The actual age difference of the employees might be irrelevant, but disparity in life experience could hinder the effectiveness of the relationship.
  • How long should this relationship last? Avoid setting hard deadlines for when the mentoring relationship should end. The length of time that a new employee might need a mentor will vary based on personality and skill set. A better question to ask might be, "Is the mentoring relationship still effective?" Do both parties feel that the relationship is productive and useful? If both parties feel that their mentor meetings are no longer encouraging the new employee to grow in confidence and competence, then it might be time to call it quits. Because the mentoring relationship can vary in the amount of time that it takes, make sure that mentors are flexible people who are comfortable with this type of open ended relationship.

In short, implementing a mentoring program helps new employees understand your work environment more quickly and with less stress. At the same time, allowing trusted and respected members of your team to serve as mentors also lets them know that you value their knowledge and capability. Mentoring relationships can help create a win-win situation for everyone and make for a more productive environment.

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