It’s a well-known fact that when a high-ranking manager takes a younger employee under his or her wing, becomes that person’s mentor.
The protÃ©gÃ© not only has a head start for advancement, but will obtain more know-how about the work, the workings of the company, and the “tricks of the trade” than others.
By structuring a mentoring program and assigning the best people on your team the responsibility of mentoring a new member, you take a giant step forward in encouraging productivity and growth in the newcomer.
A structured mentoring program requires that chosen mentors be willing to take on the job. Compelling someone to be a mentor is self-defeating.
Not everybody is interested in or qualified for this assignment. New mentors should be trained in the art of mentoring by experienced people.
If you’re a first-time mentor, you’re probably unsure of how to deal with this new responsibility. If you have had your own successful experience with a mentor, use that as a guide.
If not, seek out a member of your organization who has a reputation as a great mentor and ask for advice, counsel, and guidance. Ask him or her to be your mentor in mentoring.
In any case, here are 10 tips to start you on the right track:
- Know your work. Review the basics. Think back on the problems you’ve faced and how you dealt with them. Be prepared to answer questions about every aspect of the job.
- Know your company. One of the main functions of a mentor is to help the trainee overcome the hurdles of unfamiliar company policies and practices. More important, as a person who’s been around the organization for some time, you know the inner workings of the organization.
- Get to know your protege. To be an effective mentor, take the time to learn as much as you can about the person you are mentoring. Learn about his or her education, previous work experience, current job, and more. Learn his or her goals, ambitions, and outside interests. Observe personality traits. Get accustomed to his or her ways of communicating in writing, verbally, and, most important, nonverbally.
- Learn to teach. If you have minimal experience in teaching, pick up pointers on teaching methods from the best trainers you know. Read articles and books on training techniques.
- Learn to learn. It is essential that you keep learning – not only the latest techniques in your own field, but developments in your industry, in the business community, and in the overall field of management.
- Be patient. The person you are mentoring may not pick up what you teach as rapidly as you would like. Patience is key for successful mentoring.
- Be tactful. You are not a drill sergeant training a rookie in how to survive in combat. Be kind. Be courteous. Be gentle – but be firm and let the trainee know you expect the best.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks. Give your protege assignments that will challenge his or her capabilities. Let the person know that he or she won’t succeed in all the assignments, but that the best way to grow is to take on tough jobs. We learn through failure, after all.
- Celebrate successes. Let the trainee know you are proud of the accomplishments and progress he or she makes.
- Encourage the person you are mentoring to become a mentor. This produces a great stride of leadership qualities for any of your employees who have the desire to become a great manager/leader some day.