Employee Engagement

5 Ways a Mentor Can Add Value to the Employer

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Simply defined, a ‘mentor’ is “a trusted counselor or guide,” also “a tutor, coach” according to Dictionary.com.

“A mentor who, because he is detached and disinterested, can hold up a mirror to us.” – P.W. Keve

How important is having a trusted guide for your employees’ careers, and why does this matter to you as an employer? Put another way, will assigning an internal mentor or hiring an outside coach add value to an employee’s career, and as such, will that value ripple through to the bottom-line of the company?

I think it can accomplish both these goals, and following are five reasons why.

1. A Mentor Shines a Light on Strengths

While it may seem that the job of the manager is to do identify an employee’s strengths, and in some instances, it is, the manager also has a larger, big-picture and day-to-day task of running the ship (office, department, division, region, etc.). Reviewing their individual team members’ performance strengths is just one part of that, and may only get addressed a few times per year.

Value to Company

When an individual is made aware of their abilities and even perhaps the unique way in which they apply those abilities, they are more likely to employ them in everyday tasks. For example, an individual may exhibit skills in presenting complex information in a simple manner, but because they have always just jumped in to help clarify complication, they took this skill for granted.

However, after a coach helps shine a light on this capability, the individual may be able to more intentionally use it to add additional value. For example, they could avail themselves as a communications specialist who can parachute into training meetings to break down the complexity of a technical or other complex topic; or, to participate in a sales call where clarifying communications will help close the deal.

2. A Mentor Advises on Professional Protocol

Perhaps the employee feels out of their depth in regard to protocol in a specific situation: how to prepare for a meeting with the executive team; how to prepare for business travel and meetings in a foreign country, and so forth. A mentor often can provide hands-on advice or point the mentee to someone who can provide the guidance.

Value to Company

The mentor provides confidence-building direction to your employee which will reflect in the success of the aforementioned meetings. This could also lead to a better outcome—new ideas being accepted (versus rejected) by the executive board; international meetings converting to revenue, and so on.

3.  A Mentor Troubleshoots

Challenges and quandaries erupt regularly on the job. Many of those issues can be worked through solitarily, by collaborating with the team and/or asking the boss for help. Sometimes, however, seeking an objective view makes more sense.

This could include sensitive situations where a struggle between the employee and their team occurred, or even challenging interactions with the boss. Mentors can be great sounding boards for just such situations.

Value to Company

The mentor can help the employee think through the situation in an organized, fluid and actionable way, without judgment. Perhaps through a discovery process, the employee will gain insights on how to repair strained relationships that could lead not only to immediate productivity improvement results, but also longer-term relationship gains.

4. A Mentor Sees Opportunity

In cases where an employee hits a virtual wall in their career, or on a smaller scale, in their day-to-day activities, a mentor, having built a relationship with the employee, can often see ahead, above, around the mentee to opportunities they are overlooking.

Value to Company

The value of this aspect of a mentor/mentee relationship can be multifold. If the employee is responsible for customer care, it may mean the mentor can see inventive ways to speed service or systematize processes that the mentee has missed. The value to the company is clearly bottom-line in this example, saving time and ultimately money.

Or, the value may reach a higher level, such as a mentor advising an emerging leader to grow their visibility through blogging on the company website or attaining a seat on a prominent committee.

The company gain includes marketing visibility by tapping the employee’s subject matter expertise through digital media. As well, by bringing the emerging executive onto a high-level committee, the other members gain access to fresh insights and enthusiasm, which could result in innovation.

5. A Mentor Encourages

Being disgruntled, frustrated or just generally feeling down can take its toll on anyone. An employee’s mentor can be one of several people in an employee’s life to help elevate them when they are down.

Value to Company

While crankiness and feeling low may signal larger issues, sometimes the negative feelings are fleeting, caused by surface events or even non-events. Having an upbeat conversation with one’s mentor can take a bad day (or week) from cheerless to soaring in a matter of a few minutes. The value to the company, therefore, is a more energized and clear-minded employee, ready to roll up their sleeves for the next project or challenge.

The value of mentorship and professional coaching to support careerists through their career trajectory can impact company culture, attracting and developing more satisfied employees who stay committed to the company versus jumping ship.

For additional ideas and information on establishing a culture code that attracts and retains right-fit candidates, check out Glassdoor’s The Company Culture Code Cookbook, prepared exclusively with marketing experts at HubSpot.

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