6 Key Steps To Mentoring Your Employees Every Day

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How does mentoring employees contribute to an organization's overall success?

Organizations are introducing and continuing leadership development programs in almost every sector, from global multinationals to family-owned businesses, consulting companies, and public sector organizations.

These leadership programs are especially geared towards mid-management and senior-level executives.

All kinds of methodologies, like experiential learning, simulations, gaming, theatre, and mobile learnings are being used.

The trend has moved from one to two-day workshops to longer-term, almost four- to eight-month-long learning journeys.

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Everyone is beginning to understand that behavioral change requires time, continuous reinforcement, peer-to-peer learning, and practicing on the job in a non-threatening, safe environment.

While all these initiatives are a great way of developing leaders, more needs to happen for leadership attitudes and behaviors to be deeply ingrained in the day-to-day interactions and way of thinking of the employees.

It must become a seamless practice and part of the cultural motif.

And one way to propagate and sustain the learnings, in-house, is through structured formal mentoring programs. There are abundant benefits of a work environment that actively supports mentoring.

The purpose of mentoring is to transfer the lessons of richer experience namely knowledge, skill, processes, etc., in a workforce to improve the capability of other individuals or workgroups.

To initiate and sustain a meaningful process of mentoring employees, here are 6 important steps to take.

1. Build a solid business case for mentoring.

To institutionalize mentoring, it must be looked at as a critical strategy to improve employee engagement, accelerate career development, groom leaders, and perpetuate a learning culture.

It may not apply in every case.

The reasons for implementing a mentoring program must be linked to your company’s business goals. And the reasons for dedicating effort and resources to a formal mentoring process must be justified.

2. Have a clear mentoring plan.

All the stakeholders, including the executive teams, need to be part of planning the vision and defining strategy and objectives for the formal mentoring process.

Usually, a committee is set up to ensure that the execution happens smoothly. The purpose and goals of this exercise should be clear to all.

The expected outcome of the program should be made clear to the mentors and mentees, too. The criteria for selecting mentors and mentees need to be chalked out.

3. Selection of the participants.

There has to be a mechanism in place to select the right mentors and mentees and further the matching of each.

Mentors should be people truly interested in the development of others. Mentees should be eager to learn and grateful for the opportunity.

Good mentee candidates are those who have demonstrated clear evidence of future leadership. For the program to be effective, mentors and mentees must participate voluntarily and willingly.

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4. Preparing the participants.

A good mentoring program builds in formal orientation for mentors to equip them with the skill set required to establish and sustain a successful learning partnership with a mentee.

This training must clarify the difference between mentoring and managing. There's a lot of learning and unlearning that a mentor will have to do to perform this role effectively.

Provide the tools and resources that the participants will need in this journey.

Mentees will have to learn how to take charge of their own learning and evaluate the areas where they will employ help from their mentors. They will need to understand that having a mentor does not guarantee a promotion.

5. Pairing the mentors and mentees.

Several criteria could be used to pair up the mentors and mentees. A formal mentoring agreement may be created to refer to throughout the process.

The agreement must include the goals and objectives of both the mentee and the mentor.

The timelines, dos and don’ts, and the how to's should be spelled out clearly, including how and when they will meet, and a confidentiality agreement.

6. Measure the progress.

The proof of a successful mentoring program lies in measuring the impact of the program in two ways.

The first is the extent to which the process has helped the mentee in achieving their developmental goals that were defined at the beginning of the program.

The second is the degree to which the program was successful in achieving the strategic business goals. For example, improved engagement or the developing leaders.

Such programs usually close the mentoring relationship, formally. The mentor and mentees may continue the relationship, formally or informally, in the future if it serves them both well.

Formal mentoring works best in an organization where people development and organizational learning are supported and nurtured by leadership at all levels.

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Bhavna Dalal is a master certified executive coach MCC ICF, speaker, and author of "Checkmate Office Politics" who helps people develop their leadership skills, such as executive presence, strategic thinking, influencing, and networking. To learn more about her work, visit her website or follow her on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published at Forbes India. Reprinted with permission from the author.