Yes, even small businesses and SMEs have a need to mentor. Mentoring is a relationship that is formed between two individuals...one with more experience, more knowledge, and more expertise and one with less experience, less knowledge, and less expertise in a particular subject, profession, or position. Mentoring is not reserved for any one type of business, organization, job position, profession, or size of an entity.
Without adequate and continuous training and mentoring, employees cannot be expected to produce at the highest levels of performance. Medical doctors have internships and residencies. Associate lawyers train under experienced attorneys. CPAs, architects, and insurance professionals all receive guidance from more knowledgeable colleagues. Other professions do the same. There is a reason for this type of training and mentoring. It creates excellence.
Mentoring at any Level
While many might think that mentoring is only reserved for the very inexperienced, mentoring is knowledge transfer; therefore, it works at any level and in any situation. All employees benefit from mentoring as they grow with a business regardless of the size.
Entry-level employees certainly need mentoring. They should not be expected to step into a job with a minimal amount of training and become top-notch employees on their own. Perhaps this happens but the odds of success are far greater when there is continuous mentoring. Unfortunately, many businesses have a mentoring program for entry-level and new employees that is only short-term in duration. While this sets employees on the right course, it does little to help them learn the job better and prepare them to accept added responsibilities. With an effective mentoring program, employees increase their skills and, generally, become more loyal adding to a company’s forward momentum.
Managerial-level positions are no different than entry-level positions when it comes to gains that can be achieved through mentoring. Managers at any level still need to be mentored as their job functions and responsibilities change and increase. An ongoing debate has always been whether a leader is born or made. Regardless of one’s opinion, leaders and managers can still improve and become more effective with proper mentoring.
A first-time manager with little or no managerial experience needs mentoring in order to succeed. Likewise, the most experienced manager becoming a director or being elevated to a C-level position can still benefit with proper mentoring. There are different issues and situations at every level of management that have to be addressed in the best possible manner. Mentoring from an experienced manager is a great asset in this area.
Mentoring is a very powerful tool to enhance both personal and career development. When there is open communication and trust built between the mentor and mentee, a positive and enthusiastic atmosphere can develop. In addition to working on skill sets only needed for a particular position, a strong mentor can provide guidance, motivation, and moral support as well as being a role model. Experienced mentors can relate stories of when they were in similar positions and situations, and how their actions proved to be positive or negative at the time. This makes mentoring even more powerful when mentees understand that their tutors have been in the same place where they are now.
As a business owner, manager, or supervisor, implement some of the following tips in a mentoring program:
Approach each mentee as a unique individual using different guidance based on distinctive characteristics and experience.
Work together on common goals to be achieved.
Show real involvement and take a genuine interest in the mentee learning about the person, background, interests, etc.
Allow the mentee to make recommendations and discuss different approaches to a situation before giving advice.
Share previous experiences both good and bad.
Give praise when due, celebrate successes, and learn from failures and/or disappointing results.
Certainly, lead by example.
Efforts Have Rewards
A business can do nothing or very little to mentor employees and still grow and succeed. The same business, however, can put forth a little extra effort, develop an ongoing mentoring program, and reap big rewards.