Q: How can I build a workplace culture where mentoring is valued and fostered?
A: Companies with an eye on the future know that mentoring is critical to long-term success. Creating a culture that recognizes and rewards formal and informal mentoring serves to build a strong workplace and creates a broader pool of capable, confident leaders.
Consider these tips for cultivating a culture that embraces mentoring as an essential component of success:
Young professionals in the early stages of their careers can take the initiative to foster informal mentoring relationships. Mentees can start by setting realistic goals for their mentoring relationships and conducting basic research to identify potential mentors. Mentees should proactively seek out people and experiences to help them fast-track otherwise typical learning experiences.
No one will push your career along faster than you.
Frame Benefits for Mentors:
Mentors are usually willing to mentor, but busy schedules often get in the way. Companies can help by conveying to senior executives what’s in it for them: Effective mentoring enables mentees to provide better service (great for customer retention) and frees up mentors to do other important tasks.
Be open about the important role mentoring plays in your company’s longevity. Those who appreciate the big picture are more likely to invest their time transferring knowledge and skills to the next generation.
Growth and development come in many forms. Mentees should not limit themselves to a single mentor. Multiple perspectives are invaluable for career building.
Encourage efforts to seek mentoring opportunities from many people within and outside the organization, including customers and clients. Industry and affinity groups also provide wonderful opportunities to connect with experienced potential mentors.
Embrace What Works:
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mentoring. Some companies do well with a formal program that provides structured mentoring sessions. However, if an organized program is too rigid for your team, encourage more organic opportunities for employees to work with experienced colleagues.
Develop a culture where training, asking questions and accepting challenges are valued and rewarded. Listen to feedback from your employees and adapt. To be truly effective, your mentoring initiative should have staying power.
This Month’s Expert:
Joanne Lo Grimes
Parter & co-chair, Carlsmith Ball LLP