Mentoring in the workplace is often used as an onboarding tool to help new and recently promoted employees. A mentor can help employees make strategic choices, feel confident in their positions, and grow their skills. However, mentoring doesn't need to be limited to new recruits. Anyone can benefit from mentoring, regardless of their age or position. Mentoring also strengthens the company by upskilling employees and empowering them to make better choices.
Learn about the different types of mentoring at work that you can set up to empower your employees.
1. Career Mentoring for Employees
Job mentoring is one of the most common forms of mentorship that companies provide. An employee is typically assigned a mentor who is not their direct report but serves a similar job function. This mentor might have been in that employee's position before and will pass on their knowledge to make the onboarding process easier.
This type of counseling directly addresses the role of a mentor in the workplace. Along with management, a mentor can help an employee develop skills and exceed company expectations. This mentor sets employees up for success and provides resources that otherwise wouldn't be there.
2. High-Potential Mentoring for Leadership
If a company doesn't provide mentoring for every employee, it might create a mentorship program for team members who have high potential to become leaders. One of the main benefits of a mentor program is succession planning. If a leader is about to retire, then a company can prepare a lower-level employee to step into that position. Many companies invest in succession planning even if their managers and executives don't have plans to leave. This protects the company in the event of an unexpected leave of absence or firing.
Mentoring can also be used as an incentive or reward for high-potential employees. It encourages them to stay with the company in hopes that someday they will get promoted.
3. Diversity Mentoring
Diversity mentoring is a tool used to retain employees. It can be used to expose employees to new skills and ideas they otherwise wouldn't use. For example, if an employee masters a job, that individual might receive training on the tasks of others. This way, if an employee gets sick or leaves, the other team members can step in and handle the work.
Diversity mentoring is a protective measure by companies, similar to leadership mentoring for succession planning. It ensures there won't be drops in productivity if employees leave unexpectedly. This type of mentoring can also help managers better understand their team members' day-to-day work.
4. Reverse Mentoring
Reverse mentoring is a new form of mentoring gaining traction across the country. It's the idea that managers mentor employees, but employees also mentor their managers. Employees can provide feedback on what they need from their managers to become more effective in their positions.
There are many benefits to mentoring management. Employees can get better at their jobs because their leaders are more effective. Plus, staff members have a space to offer feedback where they otherwise wouldn't. Managers can apply this feedback across all team members and learn how to improve their careers.
Managers can use different types of reverse mentoring depending on company size and type. For example, you might want to offer anonymous reverse mentoring through a mediator. This way, employees can feel safe when offering their opinions without fear of retribution.
5. Mentoring Circles
Mentoring doesn't need to be an individual activity. Some companies form mentoring circles to allow intradepartmental networking and growth. These circles could be as simple as monthly brown-bag luncheons and discussions or company professional development book clubs. These circles are common in women mentoring programs, where female employees in a (typically) male-dominated work environment support each other and share experiences.
Mentoring circles can also help with upskilling. When team members across departments get to know each other, they can learn their different skills and needs, making them more effective when it comes to teamwork and collaboration.
6. Goal-Setting Discussions
Regardless of the type of mentoring employees receive, they can always benefit from goal-setting discussions. These are conversations where you talk with team members individually and learn what they want to do with their careers. Too often, managers will put employees on a path or have expectations for them that contrast what their team members want. These employees might not be interested in that path of growth and have other plans.
Treat each employee as a unique individual, and create a path for that person, not a general funnel for all staff members.
Mentoring in the workplace starts at the top. If you prioritize mentorships and personal growth, then your employees will value them, as well. Consider the different types of mentoring your individual employees need so you can help them grow and make better decisions.