Mentorship programs have become a popular way for small businesses to assist new employees during the initial months on the job. However, a mentorship program goes beyond merely being "shown the ropes" by others more experienced in a role. Mentors act as a new hire's guide to your workplace and allow newcomers to gain valuable, real-world experience and skills that are difficult to transmit in classroom settings or workshops.
Mentors are also different from supervisors. They don't typically oversee the new employee's day-to-day work performance. The true function of a mentor within mentorship programs is to act as an additional source of support during an employee's early period with your company. These pairings augment other elements of onboarding, helping fill in the gaps that even the best programs contain.
The one-on-one nature of the relationship cultivated within mentorship programs can help a new hire integrate quickly into your firm's culture and become a productive member of the staff. Mentors can introduce newcomers to individuals in other work areas and serve as a sounding board for thoughts, ideas and concerns. Good mentor-protégé relationships also nurture an inviting culture, demonstrating to newcomers the benefits of an open environment where people are constantly sharing knowledge, generating ideas and are mutually committed to building a successful company.
But keep in mind that mentoring is not a one-way street, and mentorship programs do not benefit the protégé only – individuals who become mentors stand to gain as well. For example, serving as a mentor can help even the most accomplished long-term employee improve his or her management skills. In addition, new employees often bring with them fresh perspectives that can benefit a tenured mentor in return.
Mentorship Program Participants
The key to an effective mentorship program is to choose mentors who are temperamentally suited to the task. They don't necessarily need to be your most senior managers. They should, however, be naturally empathetic and enjoy the role of helping, listening and sharing information with others.