Mentoring strategies for leaders that want to make an impact

Here are 15 mentoring strategies that will transform employee engagement and productivity in your organization.

Ryan Carruthers

May 30, 2022

Keeping employees engaged and motivated in their jobs is not an easy task. Recent statistics from Gallup show that employee engagement has dropped for the first time in a decade. They now estimate only 34 percent of employees are engaged at work. The number of employees who are actively disengaged increased to 17 percent. 

Those are some tough numbers for any employer. Yet, you can cultivate an engaged culture in your workplace with the right strategy. One of the critical ingredients is mentorship. When surveying HR professionals in 2022, our State of Coaching and Mentorship Report found that they view mentoring as a key enabler of performance.

For that reason, we’ve gathered an extensive list of mentoring tips and strategies for you to draw from. 

If you’re ready to increase employee engagement with mentorship, read on.

The pillars of good mentoring

An excellent mentoring experience begins with focusing on developing a strong relationship. To do that, mentors need to exhibit the following characteristics: 

Genuine interest

A mentor should demonstrate they are interested in the mentee. They need to care and be unbiased. Mentorships can excel if the mentor responds to the mentees’ wants and does not just tell the mentee to follow in their footsteps.

Honesty and trust

Every good relationship is built on honesty and trust. Mentorship is the same. A mentee may confide things to a mentor they don’t want to be shared. If a mentor can be trusted, they will create an atmosphere that allows the mentee to be vulnerable and open. This leads to growth. 

Clear communication

Communication is key to cultivating connection. A good mentor knows how to communicate well with a mentee and help them make decisions and work out plans to reach their goals. 

Does a mentor have to be older? Different models for mentorship

There are no set rules when it comes to mentorship. 

While the traditional mentoring model has been to match a senior mentor with a junior mentee, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a variety of mentoring models that your organization could use depending on the goals of your mentoring program. 

These include:

Peer mentoring

Peer-to-peer mentoring capitalizes on the fact that your employees feel comfortable learning from each other. With peer mentoring, co-workers or employees at the same level can be matched up for a mentoring experience. It can be an ideal fit if your mentoring program is designed to onboard new hires. 

Reverse mentoring

With a reverse mentoring program, younger or newer employees help train your senior ones. It can be a beneficial mentoring model to help your staff understand new technology. After all, who understands new tech better than the younger generations?

Group mentoring

If you have more mentees than mentors, consider a group mentoring model. This allows for one mentor to help guide two or more mentees. It also provides the added benefit of having mentees learn from each other as well as their mentor. 

One-on-one mentoring 

One-on-one mentoring is the traditional model that many of us think of when we hear the word mentoring. Paring a senior employee with a junior one continues to be one of the most popular forms of mentoring because it works. 

Essential mentoring tips and strategies

Having a strategy is essential for a successful mentoring program. Here are the essential tips to build or revamp your workplace mentorships. 

1. Know when to listen and when to give advice

A good mentor will be an active listener. 

This involves hearing what is being said and understanding it well enough that you can repeat the thought back using new words. Doing so can help a mentee clarify their own ideas on an issue or problem. 

Sometimes people just need a little space to talk out their thoughts before determining their own way forward. A mentor must know when to sit back and listen and when they need to offer some guidance.

2. Set an example worth imitating

One of the reasons that mentorships are attractive to employers is the ability to help newer employees develop good work habits. 

To be a good mentor, you need to bring more than a successful career. You should also be an upstanding individual. Mentors that have a strong track record at the company can help mentees establish solid values and work ethic. 

3. Set clear expectations and goals at the beginning of the relationship

Setting boundaries at the beginning of mentorship is crucial to cultivating an authentic connection

Mentors should discuss expectations and goals with their mentees so they can define where the relationship is going. 

  • Will it be about career development? 
  • Is the mentee looking to develop a specific skill? 

These goals will serve as guides throughout the mentorship. 

4. Find common ground with your mentee

Building a connection takes time. It may be awkward in the beginning. But mentors should find something they have in common with their mentees. Use this as a starting point to get to know each other. 

5. Know your own strengths and leverage them

A good mentor has a strong understanding of their own strengths. They also know how to play to them. 

Use what you know to help bring out the best in your mentee. 

6. Be clear with your advice

It’s essential to be direct when you offer your mentee some advice. Don’t rant or waffle with what you’re saying. 

Choose your language carefully, so they aren’t confused about your direction. It can also help ask them if they are unclear or have questions about what you’ve said. 

7. Expand your mentee's network and open doors where relevant

Getting to know other key individuals is one of the advantages of having a mentor. 

As you get to know your mentee, consider people they could connect with in your network. Perhaps there is someone you know that can help take your mentee’s career even further. 

8. Hold your mentee accountable

Help your mentee grow by keeping them accountable for doing what they said they would. 

Mentorships are about guiding a mentee to reach their goals. They need to do the work of getting themselves there. 

9. Be a devil's advocate (with empathy)

Challenge your mentee. 

Help them grow by asking them the tough questions. But always do it with sincerity and compassion. 

Let them know that you’re not trying to be difficult but rather help them rise to the challenge. 

10. Get to know the mentee beyond just work

Building an excellent mentoring connection means knowing more about your mentor than just their job title. 

Find out what their interests and hobbies are outside of the office. Ask them about their family and special dates, like anniversaries or birthdays. 

11. If you don’t know, say so

Letting your mentee know that you don’t hold all the answers can free you both.

When you come against questions you don’t know, seek an answer together. It will cultivate a stronger connection with your mentee. 

12. Look for the root of what’s holding them back

Part of your role as a mentor is to assist your mentee in unlocking their potential. 

You’ll need to determine what is holding them back. It could mean you’ll need to dive deep with your mentee to help them find it. Be up for the challenge. 

13. Sometimes the best mentoring moments are unscheduled

You don’t need to keep mentoring interactions to your scheduled sessions. If you have an idea, sharing it over email can make a difference. 

14. Tell stories

People love to hear stories. Mentors can use this to help teach and instruct mentees. 

Talk about times you overcame challenges and reached a goal. You can even share stories of famous mentor-mentee relationships like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. 

15. Above all, be committed to the relationship 

How you mentor a mentee depends on your style and personality. But the most important thing you can do is to engage with them. 

Be dedicated to the mentoring experience. At the end of the day, if you care, everything else will take care of itself. 

Starting a mentoring program? Together’s mentoring platform makes it easy

Beginning a mentoring program in your workplace can be exciting. But it can quickly feel daunting to collect information from potential participants and try to match mentors with mentees. 

That’s where mentoring software, like Together, can help. Our platform serves as a one-stop shop for your mentors, mentees, and program manager. 

Together provides an excellent user experience without requiring your employees to learn new software. 

Our software integrates with email and calendar tools so mentors and mentees can communicate easily and set session dates. We also provide extensive resources and guides to help mentors and mentees build strong relationships. 

Mentoring program administrators will easily be able to customize Together’s platform to fit the needs and goals of your organization’s mentoring program. From gathering registrations to pairing to reporting, our mentoring software streamlines the management of the program. 

Find out more about Together and how it helps you start and manage your mentoring program. Get a free demo today. 

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Want incredible results from your mentorship program? Then download our comprehensive list of best practices.

We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.