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Make Time to Mentor: Retain and Develop Staff

By Ashley Gatewood posted 04-05-2022 09:30

Remember how upside down you felt the first day of a new job? Or how long it took you to find your footing when promoted into a new role with more responsibilities?

A simple way to make new development team members feel welcome is to serve as a mentor. While you may feel pressed for time, the hours you put into nurturing up-and-coming talent pay off.

In the corporate world, 37% of professionals have a mentor and 97% of them say those mentors are valuable. Even if you doubt you have sagacity to pass on, your years of
experience and know-how can be incredibly helpful to those starting out. What feels straightforward and intuitive to you, may not be so to someone walking into your organization.

New in the door
When someone joins your development team, even if they are mid-career or higher, they can benefit from a mentor.

If the mentee is someone you manage and have a standing weekly meeting with, ensure you devote a portion of that time each week purely to mentoring.

Developing your organization’s talent pipeline isn’t just a form of future-proofing. A lack of room to grow is a leading cause for employees to head for the exit. As soon as someone joins your team, give them space and a pathway to move up, otherwise they may move out.

Primed for promotion
Eighty percent of professionals don’t think their current employer provides growth opportunities.

Promoting from within is ideal for a cadre of reasons, including the person’s familiarity with the organization and its key players. Preparing staff to take on higher-level jobs and promoting them into those roles keeps staff engaged while showing others at your organization opportunity abounds.

Speak with your mentee about the skills they need to climb the next rung of the ladder in your organization and support them with professional development opportunities. This could take the form of trainings on leadership, managing teams, and addressing any areas for growth such as time management and communicating effectively with staff of different generations.

Professional development: Your staff want it
Ninety-two percent of employees believe having access to professional development is important. Ignore that statistic at your peril.

When creating annual budgets, be generous in the amount of money you allocate to professional development. Encourage staff to attend relevant conferences and trainings. Speak with them about pursuing industry-recognized certifications.

New and junior employees may feel shy in asking for budget and hours or days away from the office to attend educational events. Be consistently proactive and supportive.

Your mentorship can have an outsized impact on retention.

High turnover deflates staff morale. Many of us have worked in an organization or two that hemorrhaged good employees and know how unpleasant the experience is. It’s vital your organization never reaches that point because it’s an incredibly sticky ship to right.

Get ahead of the game by mentoring. It proves to employees you know they’re worth the investment and want them at your organization for the long haul.

At the outset of a mentoring arrangement, ask your mentee where they’re interested in developing and then provide them with the support to get there. Don’t drive your mentee in the direction you think they should go. Let their hands rest firmly on the wheel.

Written goals and accountability
It’s not enough to check in with staff once a year, usually during their annual review, about their skills development.

If you can’t fit in mentoring time during weekly check-ins, put 30 minutes on the calendar monthly. You want staff to know you are making time for them and aren’t too busy to support them in reaching their career goals.

Put goals into writing. This may be achieving a certification by a specific date or attending three conferences a year. Whatever it is, document it to keep all parties accountable.

Rewards aplenty
It isn’t just the mentee who experiences the rewards of your mentoring. Many mentors find it to be a satisfying endeavor that enables them to give back to their profession.

Go forth, mentor, and enjoy sharing your wisdom and support with those who can benefit greatly from it.