Employee development

5 ways mentorship can revamp your employee development program

Organizations that want to stand out and attract top talent need to renew their focus on employee development. Mentorship is key to helping employees grow and be their best at work.

Saheed Hassan

Published on 

December 2, 2022

Updated on 

Time to Read

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If you think a lot has changed in the workplace over the last few years, brace yourself for more impact — 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 are not yet invented.

With the pace of change and technological advancement, the best way for any organization to cope with the future of work is how seriously they take their employee development.

When it comes to employee development programs, most organizations have a similar setup. There are usually a few core components that are included in just about every program. 

However, the best employee development program incorporates mentoring. It's one of the most effective methods for helping employees reach their full potential and equip them for the future. Not only that but how can mentorship be used to revamp your employee development program?

The article discusses how mentoring improves performance, the components of most employee programs, how to revamp your employee development to the next level with mentoring and how to make mentoring part of your development strategy today.

How can mentoring improve employee performance?

To develop people, use people, which is why mentoring is effective. 

Providing mentoring to your employees can be beneficial to improve their performance in so many ways. 

We’ll outline several below:

Increase self-confidence

Mentoring enhances self-esteem and confidence in individuals, enabling them to take on greater responsibilities, stretch their comfort zones and reach beyond their expectations.

Unbiased feedback

Mentors are usually impartial, providing honest insight into an employee's performance. This allows employees to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for overcoming any weaknesses. 

Unlock hidden talent

Mentors are able to identify unique skills and talents in their mentees, bringing them to the surface and helping them discover paths they may not have otherwise realized. 

It also helps mentees identify the areas they excel at and those that need improvement and guide how to use those strengths more effectively.

Improve soft skills

Organizations focused more on technical skills and often overlooked their employees' soft skills. A mentor provides a safe space for individuals to hone soft skills, such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, and collaboration, which are essential for success in any role or organization. 

This can include active listening, public speaking, interpersonal communication, and negotiation.

Enhance goal setting

Through mentoring, individuals learn how to set realistic goals for themselves and develop a plan of action to help them reach those goals.

A listening ear

Mentors are a great source of advice and support for employees. They provide an opportunity for employees to openly discuss their performance, share their successes, and work through any issues or challenges they may be facing.

What most employee development programs have in common

Most employee development programs will have the following elements.

A learning management system (LMS) to offer courses

Through an LMS, employers can organize and deliver education in an organized fashion that allows tracking progress and completion. 

Employees access the materials at their convenience and often can take assessments to demonstrate their comprehension of the material. LMS enables both employers and employees to identify any areas requiring further development.

360 performance reviews

A 360 performance reviews provide a comprehensive and structured evaluation of employees' performance to guide their development. 

Though it can help develop every employee, it's most useful for an already effective employee who has stalled. According to Jeff Nally, SHRM-SCP's chief HR officer and coaching officer at CoachSource, "It helps them get out of their comfort zone."

Setting SMART goals

Setting a development goal is one thing; implementing various stages of the goal is another. SMART goals are a well-known productivity practice that helps employees advance their professional development. 

This framework ensures goals are properly defined, clear, attainable within a reasonable timeframe, and provide a measurable result.

Setting performance goals and milestones with managers

While setting a SMART goal is effective, it will do wonders when managers help their employees achieve performance goals and milestones. 

Irial O'Farrell, the author of SMART Objective Setting for Managers: A Roadmap (Evolution Consulting, 2020), says, "They might agree to the goal, but they might not know how to go about [achieving] it, and if that's the case, then it will be the last thing on their to-do list."

How to take employee development to the next level with mentorship

Traditional employee development programs can be unengaging for participants. With mentorship, however, can become a great way to engage employees, accelerate their learning, and propel them forward.

Setting clear expectations and goals

Employees should clearly understand what they are expected to gain from their mentors and vice versa. This could include topics they should expect to discuss or specific skills and knowledge they should be learning. Below are some pointers you want to consider:

  • The frequency and duration of the mentorship sessions
  • Topics for discussion
  • The progress that should be made in terms of knowledge and skills
  • Any specific goals that need to be achieved

Pairing every employee with a relevant mentor

Ensures every employee has access to an experienced mentor who can provide relevant guidance, advice, and feedback. 

The mentor and mentee should've similar interests, expectations, and goals for a successful mentoring relationship. Together has an algorithm that can help organizations match employees with the relevant mentors based on their profile.

Create an environment of mutual respect

Many organizations complain about building a workplace learning culture without creating an environment of mutual respect. 

Safe space allows employees to be open and honest with each other. The same goes for mentor-mentee relationships, which will help them learn and grow. Additionally, mentors must respect mentees' boundaries by respecting confidentiality requests. This should also include executive buy-in.

Monitor the mentoring

Program coordinators shouldn't just leave the program to mentors and mentees. They should check in regularly to assess the progress. 

Mentors should also ask their mentees for feedback, identify any issues or challenges that need to be overcome, and offer additional support. This also helps mentors track what skills and knowledge their mentees have gained and any new goals that need to be set. 

Celebrate success

Recognize and celebrate successes along the way. It could be recognizing when a goal is achieved or simply recognizing both parties' efforts.

Make mentoring part of your development strategy today

To create a culture of continuous learning, employers should turn to mentoring as an invaluable tool for their employees' development initiatives. Coursework and training videos are great, but there is a certain power in sharing experiences and knowledge with someone who has been there before. 

Mentoring creates a safe space to ask questions, learn from mistakes, develop new skills and acquire wisdom. Establishing a formal mentoring program provides employees with a structured and supported approach to learning and development from peers and experts. 

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