Is mentoring a myth? Maybe mentoring is something fashionable or could it be one of those HR initiatives that drives you mad?
The answer is: it’s none of these! Mentoring builds champions
Moving from good to great:
Mentoring has been happening in good companies that are moving to become great companies for a long time.
Having a mentoring programme available to employees denotes a workplace where relationships are sound, where people have the space to grow and where there is a support structure for employees to get advice in practical terms from someone who isn’t the boss and from someone who isn’t going to judge.
These workplaces are few and far between.
Why is it a tall order?
It’s a tall order to create a work environment where people feel they can “put their head” above the parapet and ask for a mentor. It isn’t easy to say “hey, I could do with a different relationship to the one I have with my boss where I can explore ideas, look at different ways of doing things and find different ways of working and responding to new challenges with ever greater time pressures and more and more complex problems.”
In 2018 bartlett mitchell launched a mentoring programme as part of its people strategy to build stronger teams able to grow as the company grows.
Making it real
Every mentor has a monthly pack with pre-reading, webinars and some goals to achieve with a monthly meeting taking place with the person being mentored. At the twice yearly appraisal reviews, the employee says whether they want to be assigned a mentor or if they want to be developed into becoming a mentor. It’s voluntary which makes it meaningful and live. It’s not another job you have to do. It’s a role and a relationship you want to participate in.
The other side to the relationship is about becoming a mentor. It’s about growing your own skillset to be able to look at issues objectively, to be able to direct and share rather than take on the responsibility of making things happen or adding more ‘to dos’ to your action plan. You may find that you have been assigned or volunteered to mentor someone that you don’t immediately feel comfortable with. If this is the case, you might surprise yourself and grow into the relationship: working with different people with lots of different styles, roles and tasks will mean that you learn and will take something away from this experience too.
The relationship between mentor and the person being mentored is separate and different to the relationship with the line manager. Everyone knows the adage that someone only ever leaves a company because of their relationship with the boss. Any company that has high turnover will know that relationships will need to be built on strong foundations of good working practices, professional but effective relationships and good communication processes.
Engaging and enabling
Mentoring can be a great place to start to build an engaging culture as informal networks can really reduce the effect of office politics and factions. Mentoring enables ideas to be shared, for workgroups to become established and for employees to understand differences which reduces friction, misunderstanding and operating in silos.
Trust is the secret weapon of success
The biggest benefit of having mentoring in the workplace is the creation of trust.
This is the drive for successful achievement of targets as it enables more risk taking in a no blame or shame environment.
No company really survives without having a culture of trust and no one wants to work in a company where there is distrust. Mentoring makes trust happen.
bartlett mitchell mentors next generation champions:
At bartlett mitchell we are excited about our future and proud of our mentors who are making the difference in the bartlett mitchell family for the next generation of champions.
Watch our space: It’s happening here and it’s happening now.