Each boss has an employee. Their relationship is most likely formal and defined by the parameters of hierarchy. The boss tells the employee what to do and the employee does it. Communication can flow both ways and employees are able to give input, ask for advice or help but the boss is the one calling the shots.
Sometimes, it’s hard to open up to someone who gives you orders. Employees often have a great deal of respect for their bosses, but that doesn’t mean they feel comfortable confiding in that relationship for career or personal growth.
Successful mentorship is more like the relationship between a parent and adult child. This relationship is characterized by mutual respect, trust, shared values and open communication. (Take note, that I’m talking about “successful mentorship.” Not all mentorship can have a positive impact and I’ll touch upon this later.)
There is very little guidance out there about how to create positive mentor relationships whether it be in finance, consulting or technology. Mentoring plays a vital role in any successful employees career path. Very few, if any, professionals become senior executives through individual success alone. There is normally guidance and mentoring along the way.
So how do you succeed at creating successful mentorship relationships? Here are a few tips to ensure success:
Take careful care to precisely match mentors with mentees.
Mentors and mentees can have a falling out. This can be disastrous. Both parties can end up walking away with bad tastes in their mouth and a lowered opinion not only of one another but the company or organization that matched them together.
Mentoring Software (like Wisdom Share, provided by Mentor Resources) can help you make sure you are matching people correctly, but it won’t do all the work for you. Working with an experienced consultant and leveraging mentoring software allows you to systematically and carefully match thousands of employees with mentors successfully. There are numerous factors to take into account: age, race, gender, profession, experience, goals of the program, education, personal interests, relationship status, etc.
You can’t just “upload” a list of employee and mentor names into a database, press a button and have the perfect matches. The most important tool is surveys. Everyone enrolling on the program needs to fill out individual surveys which cover their personal thoughts, beliefs, career goals and aspirations. Using this information, matching can be done correctly and everyone will have a positive experience within the program.
The important thing to know is that this step can’t be overlooked and doing it right sets your mentor relationships up for success right from the start.
Run a tight ship
The idiom “run a tight ship” means to keep strict rules or close control over a group or activity. It comes from the idea of a ship with tight ropes. Everything on the ship, down to the smallest details, is orderly and controlled.
Mentoring, in order to be successful, has to be controlled. HR can’t just pair up a bunch of employees with senior staff members, make everyone shake hands and hope for the best. The entire process has to be controlled and it has to be done delicately so mentoring doesn’t become stifling.
This is where Mentoring Software comes in. Mentoring Software is an HR tool that can handle large numbers of employees and guide relationships. The software can be used to schedule meetings, set goals and move the program along. You don’t want mentors and mentees to meet up over lunch and talk about Xbox and the Giants. Meetings need to be productive and using software HR can place parameters on the meetings so mentors and mentees know what their goals are. For example, the first meeting can focus on goal setting for the mentee. What does the mentee want to learn? What skills does he want to improve on? Can the mentor bring a list of hard won lessons to pass on to his mentee?
By running a tight ship, HR ensures that mentors frequently communicate with mentees and that goals are always being worked on. The most successful relationships are the ones where mentees share and understand their mentors visions for success.
Successful Mentoring Programs are Organic
Mentoring software and technology allow you to control the relationship, enforce timelines and set goals. Control needs to be run. However, you need to also recognize that software and control are only tools to facilitate human interaction and growth.
Once matches are properly set and software is leveraged to exert the proper amount of control on the mentoring relationship, let go of the steering wheel a bit. If you did everything right, your mentors and mentees will develop relationships all their own.
People often need to be steered in the right direction, but when they are on the right path they only grow as people if they take the steering wheel and start to do the driving. Mentoring Software helps you to get them on that path.
To find out more about our Leading Mentoring Software and get any questions answered, fill out the Contact Form below or email us.