How to get the right work mentor
Beginning a job remotely can be stressful. When your interactions with new colleagues are only happening through a screen, the process of learning the best ways (and people) to help you do things often feels overwhelming. Research shows that mentors are not only helpful to new workers acclimating to a new organization, but also key to professional growth.
In a hybrid mentorship setup, mentors must take advantage of the time they spend with their mentees in-person to have constructive discussions and form connections, while also establishing open lines of communication in remote settings through virtual coffee chats, accessible hours and a common goal for the mentorship program.
When designing a mentorship program, businesses should focus on pairing mentors and mentees who can learn from one another. For instance, a senior manager can share advice on leadership style and future career path options to a more junior employee, while the junior worker can provide insight on navigating technology, social media and new mediums.
Organizations should also be thoughtful in the assignments, discussion prompts and materials provided in mentorship programs so they aren’t solely one-way knowledge dissemination processes. For instance, hard skills and management discussions are well-tailored for mentees to learn from mentors, but weaving in technology workshops and discussions on work-life balance, can allow senior employees to learn from junior mentees.
Engagement can be improved by one-on-one mentoring relationships and specifically tailored learning development programs. Mentors and coaches also provide employees with a window into future career paths, which enhances learning and development plans by giving workers a better idea of the types of experiences they want to gain in the future.
Many younger workers say they would like a mentor figure at work. A recent study of 13 to 25-year-olds found that 82% of respondents would prefer to work for a boss who cares for them and can discuss issues beyond work, and 73% reported they were more motivated to perform at their jobs “when they [felt] their supervisor cares for them.”
It’s important as a new employee to grab any and all opportunities to connect, including company-sponsored mentorship programs. A mentor doesn’t even have to be someone high up. Some of the most useful mentors are people who are just a step or two ahead of you because they were in your shoes not too long ago.
Your mentor doesn’t really need to be someone who was in your shoes five years ago. They can just be someone with whom you share a similar mindset. The mentor experience has changed during the last few years. Given the Great Resignation, employees are reclaiming their power, advocating for themselves, and seeking a better work experience.
This better work experience includes having mentorship that is inclusive, measurable and results driven. With the shift to virtual work and employees becoming increasingly mindful of their priorities, we’re seeing an increase in employees wanting not only mentorship but also a way to connect virtually with other employees to build meaningful relationships.
Corporate mentorship programs continue to pair mentors and mentees based on position, title, or gender rather than personality traits and lived experiences. With 52% of American workers considering a job change and burnout running rampant, sustainable mentor-mentee relationships are more important than ever.
In a mentor relationship, you often share very personal aspects of yourself, such as your goals, aspirations, struggles, and so forth. Hence, entering a mentorship is an exercise in vulnerability. To determine whether you can be honest with your mentor, ask that person what level of information they’re comfortable sharing and discussing.
Start small and expand the mentor relationship as time goes on. Two of the most important characteristics of a good mentorship are a willingness to show humility and to practice transparency. That might mean confronting emotions of pain, embarrassment, or remorse—but it also means celebrating moments of great joy, learning, and camaraderie.
When you do find someone that you hit it off with, make sure that you hold onto this spark. These connections can eventually become long-lasting friendships. As you grow in your professional life, you will need different skill sets to get from one point to another. Soft skills, such as people skills, negotiation, management and leadership, become more and more important and mentorship is the best way to learn.