Mentors are any type of leader in any industry who can offer guidance to those who are farther behind on the path than they are: typically someone starting out on a new venture who needs guidance from people with real-world experience. This is why mentorship culture is so important. Merriam-Webster defines mentorship as the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor i.e. a trusted counselor or guide.
One can sometimes find informal mentorships in the workplace. This could look like an intern meeting with a senior employee or their manager for a coffee. This way they can get advice or learn more about a different department. Additionally, they can seek out someone they trust to speak with. However, initiating a mentorship culture and relationship feels vulnerable and can be scary to ask for. Plus, the concept is not normalized enough for it to catch on. So, what’s the solution? Offering a formalized mentorship culture and program at work.
The many benefits of mentorship for a team
The common perception about mentorship relationships is that the benefits are reserved only for the mentee’s own personal gain, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A Gallup poll showed that 70% of team engagement is directly related to the quality of the manager/team leader. This means that companies that create nurturing environments with great leadership have a higher success rate than those that don’t. Another study by Deloitte suggests that millennials are “demanding mentorships” in the workplace and feel more valuable when someone takes the time to invest in their leadership skills. When workers feel valued, they’re encouraged to do better work so they, too, can thrive. Mentors also gently point out blind spots so that employees can work on the things that hold them back in their professions, making them clearer, more efficient, and more successful in their work.
Are you creating workers or are you creating leaders?
Millennials want to feel valued just as much as they want to learn. When you offer stable mentorship programs, you’re creating the leaders of tomorrow. Ask any great business person, they’ve probably learned from great teachers or had at least one great mentor. When you offer mentorship programs, employees don’t have to advocate for themselves and work hard to try to find someone to guide them (which can be hard to find) – it’s built-in. Mentorship programs establish a foundation of learning so that the next generation feels supported enough to do great things in the world because they have the support, education, and good relationship skills to carry their work forward.
Mentorship can be especially helpful for women. As leaders continue to work toward a more inclusive workforce and attract and promote female employees, mentorship programs can be essential elements in developing their skills and providing them the confidence they need to thrive in the workforce. Though women face unique challenges, they don’t always just need women mentors to guide them. Men in senior positions can step up and share their privilege by guiding young female employees. Rather than the gender of the mentor, mentees care more about the right fit. Additionally, what they can learn from the experiences of the mentor.
When you invest your resources into building a mentorship culture and programs, you’re also creating better communicators. When employees feel comfortable talking to someone—whether it be a senior or peer—and are able to share their struggles and ask for advice, they are able to communicate better with just about anyone. This results in better team structures with easy flow and communication between both team members and leaders, and this support also leads to more courage and innovation in general. As a result, new and better ideas generate on a regular basis.
Mentorship leads to lower employee turnover as well. When the people you hire feel more valued, supported, invested in, and advocated for, they are far more likely to stick around for the long haul. They are investing in you by committing to your company. So what will you do to make sure that the loyalty and time they spend with you is reflected back to them?
Feel good giving back
In addition to mentees becoming more efficient employees who are growing into leaders, being a mentor is extremely rewarding. The mentor learns just as much as the mentee during the process. It’s also helpful to get insight from someone in a different generation. Or someone who may be less experienced than you on paper but may hold a wealth of knowledge and fresh ideas when it comes to doing business in a way that will support the future. And, when new talent gets wind that you offer this kind of support and education at your company, you will probably have a line of eager applications, ready to lead your company to new heights.