Mentoring / Unsplash

The start of the new year is a time for new beginnings, reflection, and change. However, did you know that it is wholly dedicated to workplace mentoring?

January has been dubbed National Mentoring Month, an annual campaign dedicated to raising more awareness about the benefits of mentoring, while also honouring mentors’ contributions and encouraging others to become mentors themselves.

More specifically, since 2016, January 17th (today) has been called International Mentoring Day, providing individuals with an opportunity to reflect on the power of mentorship within today’s interconnected world.

Mentoring is particularly important at the workplace, since it can act as a “game-changer” for both business leaders and employees, elevating one’s career and steering an organisation towards success. Good mentorship can enable employees to be more innovative and be better prepared to navigate any challenges that may come their way.

At the end of the day, everyone can benefit from mentoring. Whether it is a long-serving manager or a recently appointed employee, even the most successful find a helping hand or some words of advice useful.

However, in order for mentorship to be effective, businesses need to create an environment which not only dedicates time to mentoring, but also fosters it in a collaborative and inclusive manner.

In order to help business leaders, we have put together five ways they can promote mentoring at the workplace.

1) Organise mentorship discussions

When an entrepreneur is only just starting off in a particular industry, they tend to require the guidance of someone who has already seen it all and done it all.

This is the same for fostering mentorship, as employees need an individual who gives them insight about how to help and guide others, and what to keep an eye out for.

Therefore, businesses would greatly benefit from organising discussions and webinars for employees, featuring experienced mentors and business leaders who would provide insights about their mentoring experiences, together with the effects of mentorship on career development.

2) Encourage the sharing of success stories

As previously mentioned, gaining experience is vital in the world of business, and it is especially crucial when it comes to mentoring.

Employees should be encouraged to share their success stories and experiences with their colleagues, explaining how they tackled different situations and fulfilling certain achievements. Learning from those close to them will not only inspire employees to share their own experiences, but also make them realise that they can succeed in their goals and ambitions.

3) Launch a mentorship programme

Mentorship programmes are structured and organised initiatives that see experienced individuals being paired with less experienced ones, so that the latter can gain from further guidance, support, and knowledge. However, the mentor also stands to benefit, as they learn to communicate in a clearer manner and also gain new perspectives about their situation.

A good mentorship programme must include a careful matching process, opportunities for feedback and evaluation, set targets and objectives, as well as readily-available support structures such as regular meetings and workshops.

Once a programme is in place, business leaders need to regularly monitor the progress that is being made in order to tweak it as necessary and develop it further for the future. If it is successful, then they can benefit from sharing it, showcasing its success and encouraging employees to participate.

4) Show recognition and appreciation to mentors

As is the case when an employee or a team completes certain tasks, mentors’ contributions should also be appropriately recognised and appreciated.

This can be done through awards, certificates of appreciation, financial benefits, or possibly through special mentions in corporate communications.

5) Address mentorship burnout

Tied to the previous point, business leaders also need to show appreciation towards mentors by tackling the now common issue of mentorship burnout.

Repeated questions, requests for advice, and a constant need for approval by mentees, when coupled with the everyday workload, can be time consuming and stressful for many mentors. This drop in energy and motivation can prompt mentors to provide rushed guidance, and inadequate support.

Business leaders need to spot mentorship burnout and to also reduce the chance of it taking place by getting regular updates from both the mentor and the mentee.

For tips on how mentors can avoid mentorship burnout, click here.

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