When new hires are joining a company, they will need an experienced mentor who guides them into the world of work and its environment. While a supervisor is usually assigned to manage and oversee the said employee’s performance, this is not enough to ensure that they can adapt to the new working space and fit in the existing culture. In this case, some companies may need to assign a senior employee to conduct mentoring for the new hires. To make the best out of mentoring new employees, here is what you should do and avoid doing.
Let’s be realistic: being a mentor is not easy. While you still need to complete your daily task, you also need to dedicate some time to train, manage, and develop the new guys assigned to you. When the mentoring phase ends, you would carry a significant degree of responsibility for the success or failure of the new employee’s progress.
As challenging as it is, however, mentoring is a great way to take your leadership skill to the next level. If you are a senior employee and your manager is promoting you to be the next mentor, you should take the chance since such experience will help you strengthen your own leadership and communication skills. As a mentor, you may also gain the opportunity to reflect on your own career development and boost self-esteem.
It is true that each mentor has a unique way of coaching their mentee. However, there are a few things you should bear in mind if you want to excel throughout the process. Here are the dos and don’ts in mentoring new employees that you should take note of.
When developing an effective mentoring program for employees, there are several elements that need to be put into consideration.
Mentoring is often a part of larger training initiatives in an organization. There are several types of training you can choose, such as mentor-led training, on-the-job training, or job shadowing. This depends on the time given for the training, availability of resources, and the nature of the actual job. Some jobs that require specific, non-theoretical knowledge may be more suitable with job shadowing, where new employees follow the division head while performing their job. You can also combine these several methods of training if needed.
Once you have the method, material, and mentor in place, the next step is to set a timeline for the training. In some companies, training can last up to two weeks, while some others may only require a few days. Make sure you consult the head of the division under which new employees will work because they need to acknowledge that the new hires may not be able to do their duties immediately during the training period.
Discussing the long-term goals of the mentoring program will help the phase run well. It means you should explain in advance what the company expects from the mentoring, what kind of outcome is expected from the program, as well as how you can help the mentees develop. During the training period, employees should acquire a more in-depth grasp of the job duties, core competencies, key metrics and KPIs, team and individual goals, and, ultimately, what success looks like. By knowing the target achievement, the new employee can measure their own progress.
Many mentors believe that building chemistry between mentor and mentee is important to make the mentoring process easier. While such belief is not wrong, there are some cases where too close a relationship between mentor and mentee results in the too dependent mentee. It is good to have a close relationship with your mentee as long as you can make the mentee understand that you cannot guide them forever.
During their first days at work, new hires often feel that they cannot do their job properly when making a mistake, or they think that they will not be able to meet the expected goals. When your mentees are showing such symptoms, you can motivate them by telling them that everybody, including yourself, also makes the same mistakes in the beginning. You can share your own career story in a way that will not make the mentees discouraged.
Training for new employees is a process that lets them learn as much as they can about their new job, so you need to value the process. Encourage them to not hesitate in asking questions and assist them if they have difficulties during the mentoring. Leaders should also ask for feedback from new employees, such that they can make improvements for a better training experience in the future.
Knowing what you need to do is truly important in mentoring new employees, but knowing what you need to avoid doing is just as essential. No mentor is perfect anyway, but it is best to know and prevent them from happening.
It is natural that new people tend to easily feel insecure when they are criticized by someone who is more senior at work. For example, when the mentor says that their task is poorly finished, mentees will feel worse than it might seem. Even worse, a passive-aggressive response that does not tell them where they went wrong surely makes them ponder on their mistakes and distract them from work. This is why it is important for you as a mentor to control yourself from making overreactions when they make mistakes, as this will affect their mentality.
While you need to be strict, you should choose the wisest way to express your intentions. Instead of saying “Why is this report not even close to what I asked you to do?”, you can criticize while offering a way out, such as to say “This report seems incomplete for me. What problem did you encounter along the way and how can I help you solve it?”. This way, your mentees will know that making mistakes is a part of learning and you are readily available to help them improve. A win-win solution for everybody.
It makes sense if mentors want to be respected by their mentees, but remember that respect goes both ways; a good mentor should also know how to respect mentees. This is why acting smug and know-it-all is a behavior to avoid. Mentors should be able to boost their mentees’ motivation to achieve both personal and professional growth. Therefore, it is crucial to encourage them to keep learning, such that they can achieve better than what you have achieved now. You should not act like you have achieved many things that no one else can do the same. Make the mentee believe that he is not that insignificant in front of you. There may be an urge to compare yourself with your mentees, but try to do this without belittling them or considering them incompetent head-on. Instead, let them know what mistakes you made and how you overcame such issues.
Mentoring is different from becoming a puppet master. Although you should motivate new workers, this does not mean that you should mold them into an exact copy of yourself. Instead of just giving orders, you should guide and train them while allowing them to develop their own approach towards work. You should explain how creativity and innovation are acceptable in the company so that they do not simply copy the senior employee’s working practices.
In the end, mentors should note that new employees may not show up to be perfect employees. Do not expect them to easily win the training because they will learn best from mistakes. While developing excellent training for new employees might be difficult and time-consuming, it is definitely valuable for the long run.
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