Giving guidance that is so painful, the recipient suffers mental anguish.
That may be a funny, made-up word but sometimes when managers try to mentor their people this is how they perhaps feel.
Did you know that 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a formal mentorship program? This is according to the Association for Talent Development.
Oftentimes managers balk at the notion of developing a mentoring program, mainly because they think it has to be a time-consuming, complicated process.
In reality, you can develop a simple, yet highly effective mentoring program that will benefit your organization and your team in a number of ways. This month participants in Crestcom’s Bullet Proof® Manager program developed their mentoring skills. Here are the six steps to developing a mentoring program that will help grow your employees into accountable, responsible individuals.
1. Set Aside Time
Mentoring does not need to be an overly time-consuming activity. A meeting once every other week, for 30 to 60 minutes is all you really need to cover the important elements of your mentoring session. Just make sure you establish that time frame and block it out on your calendar. Your mentoring sessions should never move or be postponed for any reason (short of illness, etc.) Your team needs to know that you are committed to their growth and development, not that they will be cast aside every time a sudden “fire” pops up.
2. Establish Values
Your mentoring sessions are your opportunity to discuss the organization’s values with your key employees, and how their responsibilities fit into those values. This is also a great time to help them clarify their personal values. Establishing the connection between your team’s personal values and the organization’s values is a key element to influencing accountability and responsibility in your team, thereby increasing productivity.
3. Discuss Accountability and Responsibility
You definitely want to discuss accountability and responsibility during your mentoring sessions. Make sure there is an understanding that when they make a mistake, they need to take responsibility for it. Your employees need to understand how their actions affect other people, that their actions don’t just affect them, it affects the rest of the team.
4. Role-Playing Exercises
Incorporating role playing exercises into your mentoring program may sound difficult, but it can add some fun and provide real learning opportunity. Think about key scenarios that the employee may face that provides opportunities for learning. Examples could be team conflict resolution or working with an upset client. Role-playing exercises help create a higher level of responsibility in your organization, not to mention reinforcing the right way to handle tough situations.
5. Develop a Career Plan
Ask your employee: Where do you want to go? Where do you want to be five years from now? What are your career goals? These are important questions for all employees to have answers to, but even more so for the Millennial workforce who are increasingly looking to move up the corporate ladder quicker and be recognized by employers.
6. Share Your Experiences
What has gone right for you as a manager and leader? Where have you fallen down and what would you do differently? Don’t just share the good experiences, but share the bad ones too. Show people how you have learned from your mistakes, and how they can learn from theirs. That’s part of the mentoring process.
7. Consistent Questions
A key skill in mentoring is the ability to ask the right questions and resist the temptation to give the answers the mentee may be seeking in order to deal with a difficult situation. Here are some questions that can help the mentee to think for himself: What has been working for you? If you were to do this again what would you do differently? What did you learn about yourself this week? And ask these questions consistently, every time you meet.
By asking consistent questions you can help your people to focus on the right things and develop them to move into positions of responsibilities as it becomes necessary.
In other words, prepare for succession.
Succession planning is a critical area of concern for many organizations, especially those started by entrepreneurs who have grown over the years and are looking for planning for their succession. Also engagement and retention of employees has become an ever more difficult challenge. Organizational leaders are increasingly becoming aware of the leadership skills gap in their teams. Mentorship programs are a great way to fill this gap.
Through a formal mentorship program for your “high potentials” your organization can grow talent in-house and meet the challenges as transitions occur in different positions. You can tap into your mentorship pool to promote or move cross functionally to fill the gaps.
Many company leaders and human resources managers recognize that their organization’s leadership skills gap continues to grow, but most do not have a plan for how they will solve this critical issue. Focusing on your leadership pipeline through a formal mentorship program can help fill the gaps in the areas you need to develop talent.
But the key to mentoring someone is to remember it is not about you but it is about them. As Steven Spielberg said, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves”.
Mentoring engrains key areas of values, personal responsibility, and accountability. So spend time in mentoring your team to solidify organizational values, clarify their own personal values, and coach them on how to handle scenarios and plan their career path. Your commitment to mentorship will result in a more impactful, productive, loyal, and accountable team.