Mentorship in the workplace is an underused tool that empowers your employees to feel in control of their future careers.
An organization that makes employee development a priority can expect a more inspired and enthusiastic workforce, which provides substantial rewards for any business.
When you invest in your employees by fostering their professional growth through mentoring and learning and development, they become engaged team members who can also double as public advocates for your organization.
Mentorship is terrific for improving employee retention, which is a real boon when you consider that it costs around 8K to hire a midrange employee and up to 213% of the annual salary for executive positions.
Among millennials, those who have a mentor are more than twice as likely to stay at an organization for more than five years—a rarity these days. People are simply more invested in a business that invests in them.
Understandably, many executives feel that they are too busy to put the necessary time and energy into mentoring or that they simply lack the skills to be effective mentors, but in the same way that there is no one personality type or working style in a business, there is no one way to provide guidance.
Encourage your execs to find mentors for themselves who can then assist them in appreciating what specific gifts they may have to offer as role models.
When you make the investment to train and nurture your employees, you have new leadership at the ready, aligned with your company’s culture and with a proven history of working towards actualizing your vision.
Consider these stats when motivating your executives to invest time in mentoring employees.
According to a study by Wharton/Gartner at Sun Microsystems:
• Employees who mentor other employees are promoted six times more frequently than those who don’t.
• Employees who received mentoring were promoted five times more frequently than their peers who did not receive mentoring.
And if you need further inspiration to convince you of the potential benefits of mentorship, we’ve put together a list of quotes from leaders and motivators that will inspire you to include this essential tool in your leadership toolbox.
1.Trust Your Team
“Hire the best people in the country in the key roles, empower them, and get out of their way!”—Mark Moses, Founder, CEO Coaching International
Moses, who has started and sold several companies, believes that “Our job as leaders is to bring out the best in our people. Micromanagement is definitely not the way to do that.”
He has a strong belief that a primary function of leadership is to find and bring out the best in employees by constantly channeling feelings of reassurance that they can get the job done.
Ask them questions, be available to hear feedback and have honest and productive dialogues with employees that get them—as well as your organization—closer to your goals.
When people feel trusted, heard, valued and as if they are making material contributions to the success of a company, they tend to go that extra mile.
2. Nurture Your Employees’ Innate Abilities
“The key to being a good mentor is to help people become more of who they already are — not to make them more like you.”—Suze Orman, Financial Advisor and Motivational Speaker
Orman reminds us of the value of being able to pick up on the special strengths and talents of your team members. Honing your powers of perception can help you to nurture future leaders or discover team members with hidden talents that that could benefit your business.
Taking the time to speak with employees about their aspirations will enable you to come up with personalized development plans that can include everything from relevant classes to peer-to-peer mentorship.
3. Make Everything a Learning Opportunity
“Stop the ‘will you be my mentor?’ emails and start being present to embrace the learning opportunities all around you. Ask your colleagues and executive team members for their points of view. Seek advice from your direct leader or leader once removed. Start having conversations and soaking in the mentorship.”—Robert Herjavec, Investor and Entrepreneur
Here Herjavec wisely reminds us that virtually everything can become a learning opportunity. Encourage employees to avail themselves of the wisdom and experience of their peers and their supervisors.
If there is an alternate career path that interests them, encourage employees to shadow someone in that position to see if it’s really a fit.
Even if it turns out not to be right for them, understanding how your fellow team members get their jobs done helps the organization to function more smoothly as a whole.
4. Make Mentoring Relationships Mutually Beneficial
“I think the greatest thing we give each other is encouragement…knowing that I’m talking to someone in this mentoring relationship who’s interested in the big idea here is very, very important to me. I think if it were just about helping me get to the next step, it would be a heck of a lot less interesting.”—Anne Sweeney
Encouraging talented employees through mentorship emboldens them to dream big. The trust of a respected mentor who believes in your vision can keep dreams alive and on track when challenges arise.
And who knows which future CEO could come up with that next big idea that will help spur your company’s growth and take you to the next level?
5. Tend to Your Own Development First
“More than once in the history of Whole Foods Market, the company was unable to collectively evolve until I myself was able to evolve—in other words, I was holding the company back. My personal growth enabled the company to evolve.”—John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods
This quote reveals that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has the enviable ability to self-assess. CEOs need mentors too. The guidance of another who has been in your shoes, and brings the benefit a new perspective can help to get you out of rut and enable you to change course if need be.
6. Never Stop Learning, Never Stop Guiding
“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself —your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.” —Dee Hock, Former CEO, Visa
Hock provides us with more evidence that the learning is never complete. We can always benefit from broadening our horizons or gaining a new perspective.
Vigilant assessment of yourself and your goals at regular intervals and with the guidance of a trusted mentor can keep your growth—and your company’s—from stagnating.
7. Lead by Example
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams
Never ask anyone else to do what you haven’t done or aren’t willing to do yourself. Adams reminds us that others will be inspired most in observing how we conduct our business and how we live our lives.
If your team sees you in a perpetual state of learning and expansion, they will be much more likely to follow suit.
Use these principles to guide and inspire you. Find the learning and development formula that works for your organization and be open to changing course as your company grows and evolves.
Take the time to hear your employees and take into consideration what types of mentorship and learning appeals most to them, and allow some flexibility to customize each team member’s experience according to their individual temperaments and aspirations.
The commitment and energy that you receive in return will be well worth your investment.
How Can Leaders Work on Mentoring Their Team?
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