Merge's Blog

Formal mentoring is one of the most powerful ways to develop employees

I’m back again with another instalment in our continuing video series on specific ways to develop employees.  Today’s idea is to set up a formal mentoring program in your organization.

Establish a formal mentoring program

Pairing your employees with a seasoned senior employees who can offer advice and perspectives on the career skills and knowledge they need to grow in your organization is a very powerful, and one of the most inexpensive ways to develop employees.  But in order to for mentoring to work, you need to structure it thoughtfully and deliberately.  In particular, consider three things.

Three key considerations

  1. First, who you select as mentors. Mentors must be experienced, both in their jobs as well as the organization, so they can share valuable insider knowledge to their mentees. They must be good communicators who can also teach. But perhaps the most critical trait in a good mentor is someone who is not just willing to do it but actually wants to do it.
  1. Second, who you select as mentees. If the goal of your mentoring program is to help your people advance in their careers, then you should establish criteria and then make the program widely available.  If you’re just starting out with a formal mentoring program, then you may want to restrict it as a pilot project, but once you’re up and running, make it as limit-free as possible.
  1. And third, establish clear parameters. Individual mentoring relationships will vary, but make sure that your employees understand that a “mentor” is not a “supervisor.” Mentors supply advice and guidance; they do not give work assignments or tell mentees how to do their jobs. Encourage frequent check-ins by phone or email, and occasional in-person meetings as well.  Schedule a periodic review of the process.

A formal mentoring program can be one of the most effective ways to develop employees, so don’t let the needed structure and initial setup scare you off.  If you are willing to invest just a reasonable amount of energy up front, the outcomes can far outweigh any early effort.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with mentoring in your organization, whether it was formally sanctioned or not.  Tell us whether you are the mentor and the mentee, and please share your successes and your frustrations.  I think we all could learn from both.  Please just add your comments below.

Previous video blogs in this series on developing and growing your employees were:

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