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Becoming a Mentor: The Importance and Impact of a Mentor

18 February 2019

Becoming a mentor (or finding a mentor) may be one of the most important decisions you ever make. To be successful on the job, many individuals need guidance on how to be the best that they can be; they need to find someone that they can learn from. This is where a good mentor can step in and make a difference. In your business, the impact of a mentor can be substantial. That's why HR managers should consider implementing a mentor program in their organizations. Here's why a program like this would be so beneficial, and the difference it can make to your employees.

The Benefits of Mentoring

Mentoring brings a whole host of benefits. It can make your workforce more capable of adapting to change and new demands overall, SHRM reports. Mentees develop confidence and improve their business skills. They can identify and improve upon their weaknesses, and learn to be intentional in their own personal development. And people with mentors are more likely to get promotions, The New York Times reported.

Mentoring Can Increase Employee Retention

You may be surprised to learn that not only can mentoring improve skills and confidence, but it can also help you retain your current employees. A Deloitte survey found that having a mentor increases employee loyalty, particularly among millennials. In fact, millennials planning to stay with their organization "for more than five years were twice as likely to have a mentor." Millennials are also more likely to stay with their organization for five years if they feel the company has a positive culture and focuses on individual's needs. Offering a mentorship program can certainly help contribute to both of these.

How To Start a Mentoring Program

How should you structure a mentoring program? First, you should focus on clear goals, suggests. Goals might include integrating new employees with your organization's culture or helping promote leadership skills, for example. Then keep it simple.

Put one person in charge of connecting mentors and mentees, establishing the goals and providing ideas for question-and-answer sessions and meetings. Don't forget that mentoring can be a lot of extra work.

Award your mentors in a tangible way, whether it's a financial reward or extra days off or a special commendation on their review. Then check up on your mentors and mentees periodically and see if anything needs to be improved. If you're not sure where to start, begin by reading a book on mentoring such as Modern Mentoring by Randy Emelo, which is recommended by the Association for Talent Development, or Mentoring 101 by John C. Maxwell. You could even suggest that your mentors read through a personal development book with their mentees, like How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Where To Find Mentors

So where do you find mentors? Well, first look at the leaders within your company. Look for people who are interested in helping others, enjoy exploring new ideas, have good people skills and would be willing to get training if needed. If your company is so small that you don't have enough people in-house to start a mentorship program, or if you just want to allow your staff a chance to be mentored by people outside of work, consider partnering with other small businesses that have similar values. You can also contact your local SBA or Chamber of Commerce to find local business owners and managers in your area who are interested in being mentors. You can even use online services to find mentors, such as SCORE, Micromentor or FindAMentor.

Becoming a mentor can be a rewarding experience. The impact of a mentor can mean the difference between getting a promotion or not, staying with a company or leaving. If you're not sure how to establish a mentor program, just start out by finding some mentors online or ask a few people at work to read through a business success book with younger employees. It doesn't need to be complicated to get started. Then build on the program slowly over time.