Should you introduce mentors into your workplace?

In this piece, Lee Biggins of CV-Library weighs up the pros and cons of introducing mentors into the workplace.

Every employer knows it can be tricky to keep up with each individual member of staff, while also dealing with the day-to-day running of the company. However, if these staff are valuable to your team you don’t want to risk losing them when something can be done. The answer to this could be a mentoring programme. This a great opportunity to give newbies or anyone who may be struggling, a helping hand.

It’s always good to give these types of programmes a go and see what extra steps you can take to improve your workplace. And the great news is, it can give the mentors a chance to prove themselves and take the next step in their career, by helping out others. This can help to increase productivity and happiness in your business. Below we weigh up the pros and cons of introducing mentors into the workplace.

The benefits of mentoring

First of all let’s discuss the benefits to mentoring. It can certainly be a great approach with new employees, who might benefit from a little bit of extra support and guidance when they join your company. After all, it’s pretty daunting entering a new work place, so a mentor might be just the right approach to making this process a bit easier. If your employees are happy and feel supported they’re going to want to stay with your business, a big bonus for your staff retention rates. And let’s not forget you are using resource that is already available in your company (current staff members) so this approach is very cost-effective.

Overall, a mentor system can create an all-round positive attitude in your workplace, resulting in employees that are focused on achieving their goals and passionate about what they do. Plus having a mentor can help to reduce levels of workplace stress as employees know they have someone looking out for them should they need it.

How it can work in your workplace

So this brings us to how mentoring can work in your business. After all, while it seems like a great idea, there’s no point implementing something that isn’t practical in the long run. One tip is to begin with a smaller set of employees as a trial, meaning you start this change slowly. That means that if it doesn’t work out, it’s not going to be a waste of everyone’s time. Equally, if it all goes well, then that’s amazing. You can bring the strategies you used on the smaller group to the entire workforce.

Remember that you need your employees to be on board with the scheme too. It’s no good trying to get everyone involved in something they are not interested in. Be sure to communicate and explain the benefits of the scheme, especially as it can help to attract new recruits. Encouraging everyone to get involved is going to be a great contribution to your company culture as well as it’s a nice way to bring your workforce together. After all, if your recruits have signed up to be involved by their own accord, they are going to be more invested, positive and hardworking in the long run, and it’s more likely to work!

While bringing in the new scheme may be a bit of challenge, you can ease this by determining your main objectives at the start. What’s more, for a successful programme it’s important that you have these objectives so you can measure its success. It’s also important that your employees know what they are actually working towards.

What makes a great mentor?

So you have everything set up and ready to go, but who in your team is actually going to make a great mentor? You need to look for mentors who are encouraging and good at offering support. Likewise, you need to ensure that your perfect mentor is honest (in a good way!), so your employees learn from them. Similarly, they need to be able to communicate this information so that’s its understood and put in to practice. You may choose to provide a financial bonus for taking on this role, especially as your mentors are taking on that bit of extra responsibility!

Tackling the would-be cons

Admittedly, it’s tricky to know how your employees are going to react to a new scheme. After all, you can’t always please everyone and people don’t always react well to change. As is true with any new idea or scheme there’s going to be potential cons getting in the way. If you tackle these early on it’s going to result in a more successful programme. So firstly, make sure the programme is accepted by the wider team, the worst outcome would be staff seeing this as another way to monitor and manage them when it’s actually designed to help.

Provide information on the benefits of mentoring, let your employees choose to be involved and definitely don’t force anyone to join in if they don’t want to. Remember, mentoring should be flexible, so if individuals aren’t clicking with each other they can opt out or make some changes. Also on this point, make sure mentors and mentees are suitably matched; you don’t want to cause any conflicts or tension. Finally, ensure the boundaries are not blurred between the role of manager and mentor, the last thing you want is for any overlap to take place.

At the end of the day you have to do what works best for your business. If you want to give your employees a new lease of life, offering mentorships is definitely worth a trial considering the many benefits that can come from these programmes. Test it with a small group and there’s little opportunity for anything major to go wrong. So why not give it a go? After all, it’s a completely cost savvy way to help increase productivity in your company.

Lee Biggins is founder and managing director of CV-Library

Further reading on mentors

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Mentoring

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