"Mentoring programs can help you gain confidence, learn new skills, and develop leadership qualities."
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Contributing Author: Jessica Edmondson
Effective small business leaders know that planning for recruitment, hiring, training and retention is vital to a company’s growth and success.
Managers often struggle with recruiting top prospects and getting them up to full productivity, as well as keeping good workers motivated and retained as long as possible. One simple, effective way to help accomplish these goals is to create a mentoring program.
Broadly speaking, mentoring is a formal relationship between a mentor, or teacher, and a mentee, or protégé. The mentor is generally an experienced employee who possesses certain skills that the protégé needs to develop. Successful mentoring relationships begin with clearly established goals and a plan to meet them.
There are numerous benefits to be gained from mentoring programs.
Mentors may become more productive, as they can focus on areas that require their talents, while delegating other tasks to their protégés. In turn, protégés gain confidence, learn new skills, develop leadership qualities and enjoy greater job satisfaction. Beyond the positive outcomes for the individuals involved, mentoring programs can also bring advantages company-wide.
How Mentoring Programs Benefit the Workplace
- Employee Development: Mentoring is an ideal way to groom your small business’s future leaders. If there are holes in the company succession plan, a mentoring program can help fill them with workers who are trained by the best.
- Enhance Recruitment: Many prospective employees are seeking long-term opportunities. Discovering your company has an active mentoring program could be very attractive to anyone who is serious about growing in his or her career.
- Improve Employee Retention: Investing in a mentoring program demonstrates that the company cares about employees and their career development. Commitments like this can inspire greater employee loyalty, improve retention rates, and lessen frustration and burnout. Helping employees do their jobs well typically leads to them staying on the job longer.
- Flatten the Learning Curve: Mentors can help accelerate the pace of onboarding new employees or those transitioning into positions of higher responsibility. Why wait for new employees to learn the ropes and get up to speed when a strong mentor relationship can significantly reduce that time? Think about the potential for cost savings when the learning curve is flattened.
- Make Training Stick: There’s little that’s more frustrating for employers than investing in employee training only to see it fade away within weeks. Mentors are ideal for reinforcing the principles and techniques learned in a training program.
- Higher Productivity: Employees who have someone to help them understand their jobs, the company’s mission and their role in its success will be more onboard and motivated to contribute. Having someone who can answer questions or quickly (and correctly) solve a problem boosts productivity.
- Knowledge Management: Confidential information, well-developed procedures and secrets to success are highly valuable to any organization. It makes sense to preserve them by encouraging mentors to share their knowledge with their protégés. Keep important institutional knowledge from going out the door with key personnel when they resign or retire.
Mentoring Programs Benefit Individuals and Companies
Many top corporations understand the importance of having a robust mentoring program, particularly in a challenging marketplace that can be brutal on small businesses that don’t seek to produce a talented, motivated and loyal workforce.
For firms that need guidance and assistance in establishing a mentoring program, help is available from numerous organizations and agencies, including the U.S. Small Business Administration. In addition, the nonprofit business association SCORE offers free, confidential mentoring programs, either in person or via email, across dozens of industries.
About the Contributing Author:
Jessica Edmondson works for Bisk Education, a division in the University Alliance, which collaborates with educational organizations to develop online education programs. Some of their partners include Florida Tech, University of Notre Dame, and University of San Francisco. Currently, her work focuses on the strategic management training online now being offered through Michigan State University. You can reach her by emailing Jessicaemail@example.com.
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