Judging from several economic indicators, it seems as if the most recent global economic downtown is thankfully behind us. Many economies worldwide have recovered and job growth appears to be on the rise. With a stable recovery in the job market, it’s very likely that companies across the United States and Canada will be hiring new employees, including those in the training department.
If you happen to work for a growing and expanding training department, this could be a perfect opportunity to mentor one of your newly hired colleagues.
According to a recent article found on www.careerstonegroup.com, workplace mentoring can lead to dramatic improvements in efficiency, productivity, and the passing of institutional knowledge from one generation to the next.
Over the years, I’ve had some great mentors. Some of my mentors were actual managers and supervisors, while others were colleagues with whom I’ve worked. I’ll share a few ways in which workplace mentoring might prove to be beneficial.
Create a Positive Onboarding Experience
Most of us can probably remember the first day at a new job. That day always reminded me of the first day of school. I always felt an emotional mix of excitement and apprehension.
While I was always excited about the possibility of new opportunities, I also had some uneasy, yet legitimate questions swirling through my mind. Will they like me? Who will I sit next to? Is the corporate culture much different from my last job? I was always nervously curious about those and many other things.
To lessen new hire nervousness and anxiety, many human resources professionals recommend pairing new employees with a peer mentor. A peer mentor may help acclimate the employee to the culture and environment of his/her new workplace.
I had the privilege of being partnered with an experienced instructional designer named Kate on my first day of employment at an Atlanta healthcare company. Grey-haired, wise, and somewhat older than me, I began to refer to my new mentor as “Mama Kate.” For the first few months on my new job, Kate showed me the ropes as it related to everything from workplace procedures to navigating the social landscape of my new department. Establishing that bond helped me become more productive and assisted me in embracing the company culture. Both Kate and I have since left the healthcare company for other employment opportunities, but we periodically communicate through email and telephone.
Transfer of Real World Knowledge and Skill
Workplace mentoring provides a wonderful opportunity to transfer and distribute real-world knowledge and skill and can be an effective addition to formal training. My partnering with “Mama Kate” provided me, a new employee, with direct access to a subject-matter expert. A day never went by when she didn’t share valuable tips and best practices with me. I specifically remember her showing me several shortcuts to maneuvering our department’s learning management system. Those helpful shortcuts were never addressed in my new hire orientation session.
Not only does workplace mentoring provide an opportunity to share real world knowledge and skill, but the mentor can also answer any questions and provide oral feedback in real time. This information sharing may very well shorten the new hire’s learning curve and quickly enhance workplace productivity.
Promote Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is the emotional connection that an employee has to his/her organization and its goals. Employees who are truly engaged don’t just work for a paycheck; they genuinely care about their work and their company. Workplace mentoring is a good way for every employee to identify themselves as a crucial part of the organization.
I once read a story that took place at a major US financial services firm where workplace mentoring resulted in a unique group of engaged employees. At this particular organization, a group of senior-level executives were partnered with newly hired, entry-level college graduates to offer wisdom, advice, and internal industry knowledge. However, somewhere within that partnership, something unexpected happened. The executives (mostly age 50+) were reluctant to embrace the use of social media as a business tool so a “reverse mentoring” process occurred when the new hires (mostly in their 20’s) were able to tutor their mentors on the workings of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Results from the survey completed by both the executives and the new hires found each person considered themselves fully engaged within the organization. Both parties felt empowered to assist each other in their own unique way, and they all identified themselves as a critical part of the organization’s overall success.
As you might conclude by that last example, workplace mentoring can result in lasting benefits for the mentees, the mentors, and the organization. So if your department happens to hire a new instructional designer or facilitator, why not introduce yourself and commit to becoming their Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid) or Yoda (Star Wars)? Both of you might just be glad you did!
What are some of your most successful examples of workplace mentoring?
Jeff has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Speech Communications and Broadcasting from Western Kentucky University. Before pursuing his passion for training, Jeff worked as a television reporter, flight attendant, fitness instructor, and tour guide. Jeff started his career in training at the daily newspaper in Atlanta. Training seemed to be a natural fit for him since he’s always been a bit of a performer. When at home, you’ll catch Jeff watching a cooking show, recreating a dish he’s eaten abroad, or exploring one of the many great restaurants in the Chicago area. During the summer months, he hits the road to follow the talented drum corps of Drum Corp International—something he’s done since high school!