With Millennials officially comprising the majority of the workforce, it's time for organizations to re-evaluate how mentorship is being viewed and handled. During the Great Recession, there was a leadership bench crisis in which the investment and development of midlevel workers (often younger workers) were sidelined, which has now resulted in a skill gap in many workforces. Now, it's time to bridge that gap by making mentors out of your existing managers and rebuild those leadership development channels.
While mentoring can help to improve employee turnover rates throughout your organization, it can also help the mentors themselves to grow. Mentors are exposed to new technology and ideas, while younger workers can find career growth ideas, receive help in shaping their overall mission and learn or develop leadership skills.
A Gartner study has shown that retention rates were higher for mentors and mentees (69 percent and 72 percent, respectively), and both parties were promoted significantly more than those who did not participate in a mentorship program. Recognizing the mentors and mentees who are performing well, therefore, can increase the number of participants in a mentorship program.
Additionally, mentoring needs to go past just developing entry-level professionals into midlevel employees: More seasoned and experienced employees, such as executives and upper management, also need mentoring to aid in developing skills to help them succeed in new or continuously changing roles. Being a mentor while also receiving mentorship can help leaders to improve their management skills as well as the experiences of the people they manage.
Choosing your mentors
When it comes time to pick whom to include in your mentoring program as your mentors, look for managers who have a willingness to adapt to change as well as those who respond well to recognition. Reward and recognize those managers who have shown the desire to help other generations and workers through career guidance and sharing knowledge and expertise.
One-to-one, group, reverse, job-fit, short-term and goal-oriented mentoring are forms of mentoring that managers can aid their employees in when navigating through the program. Recognize the leadership behaviors in your managers that will lend themselves toward mentorship success, such as setting, sharing and accomplishing expectations; having humility; being a good listener; coaching qualities, such as self-awareness and dedication; and the ability to deliver criticism with poise and discipline.
Mentors must show the kind of positive leadership behavior that will, in turn, produce a quality mentorship program. If you do not recognize those mentors in the making, then those qualities risk being overlooked in the workforce and ultimately won’t be emulated by their peers.
Regarding the development of a mentorship program, a general guideline could be as follows:
- Lay out the areas that need improvement.
- Create a specific mentoring plan (remember that one size doesn't fit all).
- Set up face-to-face meetings on a regular basis.
- Ensure only those who are committed are mentors/mentees.
- Do your homework.
- Develop a report schedule to monitor progress.
- Put it all in action.
Above all, remember to encourage meaningful relationships between the mentors and their mentees. Many mentors receive profound joy from seeing their mentees grow as a person and as a professional, and many mentees develop deep respect and admiration for mentors who help to guide them through uncharted and unknown territory.