One of the most profound investments in business sustainability: Our team asks what is mentoring in the workplace, plus: discover a world-first new mentoring programme
What is mentoring? Or, maybe you’re more familiar with this one – where and how do I find a mentor? The idea of having a mentor comes up incredibly often in life and the world of business. So many successful people attribute much of their success to having a mentor who had a huge influence on their lives.
Read some biographies and you’ll see. Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg. Warren Buffet mentored Bill Gates. Steven Spielberg mentored JJ Abrams. Sir Freddie Laker mentored Richard Branson. If you look hard enough, you’ll find that behind almost every successful person in the world there’s a good mentor.
We know this, but for some reason, it’s not a very clear and distinct part of our everyday lives and our businesses. Just Google: if you start typing “how do I find” into Google, one of the most searched phrases in the world is “how do I find a mentor?”. Which means that people are 100% aware of how important having a mentor is and actively searching for information and advice, but most have no clue where to start – you can’t just walk up to a random person and say, “hey, you look nice, will you mentor me”.
MENTORING AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF SUCCESS
And mentoring is definitely not just a privilege of the super famous or wealthy – we can’t all be mentored by Warren Buffet, after all. And, in fact, it’s in our everyday lives, in our businesses today where we can get the most out of the mentoring process. Think about it: We are surrounded, in our communities, in our companies, by people who can add tremendous value to the lives of others. And that’s why we at LifeXchange Solutions believe that a mentoring programme should be a fundamental part of every business in the world.
There shouldn’t be any question as to where you “find” a mentor. Because it can be built into the very fabric of every business in every industry – if only because we absolutely know it works (see the super-impressive list of successful people above).
So we ask: What is mentoring in the workplace, what are the benefits, how does the process work and how do you get a mentoring programme started up in your business. Plus: We’ll show you one of the most unique and effective mentoring training programmes in the world.
WHAT IS MENTORING IN THE WORKPLACE?
The most basic understanding of mentoring is that it’s an experienced person (maybe older, or having already attained some level of achievement) building a relationship with a (maybe younger or less experienced but talented) person, with the intent of helping them find their own way to success or a goal.
And, in business, you’re quite simply looking at formalising this as a company-wide programme. Because, unlike what most people think, mentoring is not just about an older, more experienced person telling the young ones what to do – if that were the case, only the CEO or MD would mentor everyone else in the company, which is ludicrous, they don’t have the time.
No, any individual in your company who has done something, or experienced something, that anyone else still needs to do or experience, can be of tremendous value to those people. For example, the “new” employee who’s been with you for a year now is ideally suited to mentor the brand-new employee who’s starting next week. Why? Because they’ve just recently been through everything that new person will be going through. They’re actually way more qualified than anyone else.
And remember, mentoring tends to be more holistic – it’s about the business, yes, but mentors (those who do the mentoring) are also trained to engage with mentees (those who are being mentored) on a personal level. So, mentoring is also a crucial step in binding the people in your company together. It’s an investment in social capital and company culture (see: What is company culture?) just as much as it is about skills-sharing and ensuring continuity.
HOW IT WORKS: THE MENTORING PROCESS
Now, there’s a little more to a successful mentoring programme in business than just assigning people to “show each other the ropes”. Mentoring has been used for many years as a tool to drive social change by associations, governments and organisations around the world – in fact, LifeXchange Solution’s non-profit sister company LifeXchange Community has been using an advanced and unique mentoring method to drive incredible social change in South Africa for over 13 years.
And, thanks to that, today we have a lot of research to show what works and what doesn’t in mentoring.
The most successful mentoring initiatives – which is ideally what you want in your company, because obviously you can’t afford to waste resources on something that doesn’t work – are those that invest time in instilling mentors with the knowledge and ability to build trust and connection with their mentees (see the importance of workplace trust). Because that’s how you really start to make a difference.
The mentoring process starts with building trust. And for that, a mentor needs to commit time, be able to empathise and be able to build a connection with someone who might have a completely different worldview to theirs (because we’re all different). Unlike at school or the traditional boss-employee relationships we all know, the mentoring relationship can do much more than just teach or manage, it can inspire and empower people at every level in the company to really take charge and drive themselves forward – which is what you really want in your company.
THE WHY: 21 BENEFITS OF MENTORING IN THE WORKPLACE
There are so many benefits to having a mentoring programme inside your company, it’s slightly weird that more companies don’t do it from day one. In fact, a mentoring programme alone will take care of most of the biggest organisational challenges companies face today.
It’s sustainable, drives real change (faster), adds to your company culture and promotes employee wellness and staff retention. Discover 21 benefits of mentoring.
WHAT DOES A GOOD MENTOR DO?
Successful mentors are good at building relationships (or invest time in learning how to). Mentors make a personal commitment to being involved in someone else’s life for a period of time, they can empathise with someone else’s struggles and respect the other person’s rights, even if they have a different point of view.
Ideally, a mentor will have some basic understanding of how the mind works, as well as grasp some of the basic concepts in behavioural psychology – see Erikson’s theory, the Circle of Courage and LifeXchange’s own Human Development Cycle. As well as some of the basics of neurolinguistic programming (NLP).
The mentor commits to spending regular time with the mentee, to build a relationship of trust. And uses that relationship to help empower the mentee: To find out what their goals are, to create plans to move toward them and to achieve those goals.
A MENTORING PROGRAMME IN YOUR COMPANY
With all these benefits, you’d immediately want to roll out a mentoring programme in your company. But it is useful to note again that it’s crucial to execute it right – your mentors need best-practice training, matching up mentors and mentees is a highly specialised task and, of course, you want to roll it out in a way that’s sustainable, which means it has to become part of the DNA of your company.
And the most effective way to do that is to get help from people who specialise in it. Now, we at LifeXchange Solutions specialise in using science to help organisations implement and manage change, drive employee engagement and performance, and even redesign systems and processes for a better company culture. And one of the main ways we do that is by helping you roll out an effective mentoring programme.
HOW LIFEXCHANGE MENTORING TRAINING WORKS
We’ve developed the only fully supported online and experiential mentoring training programme in the world. What that means is we come to your company and do the entire rollout of the programme. You get a facilitator and support team that focuses on training your mentors – interactive online training of just 1 hour per week. Then, our team matches your mentors with their ideal mentees inside your company, and we then facilitate a full practical roll-out – your mentors actually start mentoring people as part of their training (all fully supported).
It’s a method that’s proven hugely successful. It’s supported by numerous government bodies, accredited by the SABPP and supported by numerous organisations and associations around the country. And it really works. Here’s one response to the mentoring programme we rolled out for the National Department of Health:
“This mentoring training helped me dig deep to identify and develop strengths I was not consciously aware of. I learned to better conduct difficult conversations and hold people accountable for their responsibilities in ways that dramatically improved my relationship with colleagues and supervisors. It improved my ability to influence real change,” says Mothomone Pitsi, director at the Department of Health.
Discover LifeXchange Solutions’ one-of-a-kind mentoring training.
We’re hosting a special talk on this topic: Here’s how to join our free mentoring vs coaching webinar.
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