Providing appropriate mentors within the workplace has been proven to be instrumental in staff retention. The training and development that workplace mentors can provide can prove vastly more effective, personal and specialised than other training programs.
Mentoring is a relational process between a mentor, who knows or has experienced something and transfers that something(resources of wisdom, information, experience, confidence, insight, relationships, status, etc.) to a mentored, at an appropriate time and manner, so that it facilitates development or empowerment.
The key concepts of this are:
• Relational – mentoring happens between people, not just concepts
• State change – mentoring is not successful until the mentored is demonstrating an understanding of the information passed on
• Flexible – depending on the individuals involved, a mentoring relationship can take many forms.
Types of Mentoring
Mentoring types vary depending on the individuals involved. According to Stanley & Clinton , they are best viewed on a scale that has degrees of intensity, as follows:
• Discipler: Thoroughly trains all compulsory competencies in the role (eg. Master/Apprentice)
• Coach/Trainer: focuses on specific skills to meet a particular challenge
• Counsellor: provides insight and perspective for the mentored(s) to view their situations correctly
• Teacher: imparts in-depth knowledge on a specific subject
• Sponsor: gives career guidance, support and protection during times of transition
• Role Model: either a contemporary who inspires emulation or a 'historical figure' (ie company founder) that teachers principles and values relevant to the profession
When to Mentor
Mentoring can be effective at any stage, but is particularly important for new recruits as part of the induction process. A strong induction program will include a mentoring plan for each new hire that identifies what types of mentors they are likely to need at different stages and who would be most appropriate to fill those roles, making mentoring far less reactive in the future.
Effective Mentoring Principles
• Relationship- a mentoring relationship must be always have a clear professional basis. While the relationship between mentor and mentored is close, the boundaries between work and personal must be clearly delineated.
• Focus – the purpose of the mentoring must be clearly identified
• Expectations – what is the goal of the relationship? This goal should be reviewed throughout the process against what the relationship is achieving.
• Confidentiality – both parties must be satisfied that what is said within the mentoring relationship is kept confidential. If a matter arises that could impact negatively on the business or job performance, this may require discussion on how to best bring a third party into the fold.
• Frequency & Time Frame – how often do the parties need to meet? For how long will the relationship last?
• Accountability – what will each party take responsibility for and how is that measured
• Communication – How often do the parties communicate and in what format? How will negative feedback be communicated?
• Evaluation – when and how will the relationship be reviewed to assess its effectiveness?
• Closure – Ensure that the relationship is ended definitively and decisively, with the door open for ongoing mentoring where appropriate.
Unlike traditional training programs, which are often expensive and time consuming, mentoring programs provide a cost-efficient alternative for expanding your employees' skill sets and having them invested in the company, rather than looking elsewhere for examples.
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