In a hybrid work setup, encouraging mentorships between employees can be difficult because of the lack of face-to-face opportunities. Find out how to break this barrier here!
It’s obvious that the hybrid work setups are here to stay, especially when employees everywhere are seeing how they can comfortably execute their tasks from their own homes, and how they’re afforded so much more flexibility in time because they no longer need to worry about commute times.
While hybrid work setups have proven themselves to be advantageous for employees everywhere, there seems to be a dip in the cultivation of company cultures due to the lack of in-person interactions between team members. In fact, the lack of physical aspects of communication can make team members feel disconnected from one another.
Mentorships are a part of most Fortune 500 company cultures that continue to be dubbed a worthy investment. Having a mentorship program within your firm can have substantial benefits. We discuss some of the advantages your company can gain from creating an active mentorship within your company, and how you can set up mentors and mentees for success here.
The hybrid setup situation
As economies around the globe navigate the new normal, hybrid work setups have become a common practice that most industries have adopted. In a survey conducted by Gallup, it was found that a majority of leaders and managers worldwide prefer this setup and recognise its benefits.
While hybrid work setups have afforded leaders and employees the opportunity to better balance their work and personal life, it has nonetheless been a struggle for management. How so?
Managers have found that new hires find it difficult to assimilate into the company’s culture, especially if they don’t know anyone. It’s clear that this networking challenge can lead to some feelings of disconnection from the firm. Even if the organisation makes use of multiple employee activation techniques such as newsletters, online activities, and seminars, it can still prove to be ineffective if the new employee still hasn’t found their footing in the business.
In addition to needing to find new ways to engage with the team, managers have had to rethink productivity and performance measures. Because now, companies must get used to not being able to monitor their employee’s productivity in person.
Balancing digital and face-to-face
A challenge when working with hybrid teams is that it’s much harder to gauge employee fulfilment. The digital setup also makes it harder for most to understand social cues which are a large contributor to norms, feedback mechanisms, and relationships.
Balancing digital and face-to-face communication is essential to getting quality results and cultivating relationships. By having a mentorship program in place that takes these mediums into account, you can activate employees to better interact within the organisation. However, you must remember that digital approaches can have unintended self-censorship which can be detrimental to mentorship.
Face-to-face interactions have a myriad of advantages over online communications. Here are a few of them:
- Camaraderie fostered between team members;
- Higher level of productivity among teammates;
- Reduced likelihood of the onset of depression;
- Improvement of one’s own mood, and;
- Enhanced emotional regulation.
But even with all these benefits, you shouldn’t discount the advantages of a digital medium. The digital world easily connects people to one another.
This connection can easily be called upon at just the press of a button, and this can come in handy for those looking for immediate answers to certain dilemmas. It’s clear that the key to having an effective mentoring relationship is through the balance of digital and physical interactions.
The benefits of mentorships
Mentorships are a critical part of any business looking to grow its employees. Several sources have stated that individuals with mentors are 3.7x more likely to be engaged at work, 68% less likely to get burned out, and feel more connected to the company.
As we’ve also mentioned above, hybrid mentorships are completely possible and are the preferred option for most individuals in today’s day and age. Hybrid mentorships can show a more personal side of each party. If before, one would only meet a mentor at a coffee shop now, they can video call their mentors from the comfort of their own home.
This type of interaction provides each party to discover bits and pieces of each other’s personal life as the background of hobbies, pets, and family pop onto the screen.
Aside from the benefits we’ve mentioned, we’ve listed below other advantages of having mentorship practice in your company:
Improving communication skills
Communication is so much more than speaking, actively listening plays a huge factor in communicating. Mentorships encourage the improvement of each person’s listening and speaking skills.
Both mentors and mentees must be transparent and kind in their feedback. Delivering radical candour towards both parties requires a higher level of communication skills that makes use of empathy and care.
A community for best practices
When you create a mentorship program, you’re able to pool your mentors who are experts in their own fields. Once you’ve found a group of professionals willing to take on the job, you can create a group for them.
Having this community available for your mentors and their peers provides them with an avenue to share their best practices and mentoring challenges with each other. It also gives them an opportunity to network with one another and share industry news.
For example, if your mentors are all from management, they can share any new studies that they found interesting. If they’re from the tech industry, they can use this group to talk about any new website development skills they’ve learned recently. There’s great potential for this community to elevate each other’s practices and develop lasting bonds.
Of course, this opportunity isn’t just limited to mentors. Mentees can also have a group where they can share the lessons they’ve learned. In the end, mentorship can foster better communication between peers and is a great opportunity for participants to share information with the community.
Cultivating worthwhile relationships
We’ve mentioned above what creating a community for mentors and mentees can do for each party. But it’s also worth noting the relationship that develops between mentor and mentee. Authentic relationships that are built on trust are the backbone of any mentorship.
Mentorship provides mentees with a person to guide them on their career path. Having a figure that can help them deal with management issues, direct them on career growth, and problems with compensation is critical during one’s professional growth.
Mentorships are a great way to mould the next generation of leaders. The hands-on approach taken by mentors to their mentees provides them with an opportunity to hear more about the problems that management faces. While mentors can learn about any new challenges that their employees face and seek to rectify them within their own departments.
This can help further improve the leadership skills of mentors, while mentees can develop their leadership skills under the tutelage of their mentor.
When employees are happy and guided, they feel a better connection to their company. When this happens, they’re more likely to be more active in the organisation and they’ll feel more comfortable showing off their skills.
It also shows your employees that there’s more to the company than what meets the eye. A mentorship shows them that you value their growth, career, and interests. Your staff will see how your organisation is more than just work.
Activating employees through these kinds of programs can lead to a boost in productivity and even employee retention. This can also be beneficial for new employees because a mentor can teach them what they need to learn to have a shorter learning curve and assimilate into the company much faster.
Making a culture of learning
We’ve mentioned above how leadership skills, communication proficiency, and new perspectives are some of the things a mentorship program can teach. These soft skills are highly prized and can only be learned through practice. Mentorship is an excellent practice ground to hone these abilities.
The mentorship program can proliferate a culture of learning for your company. In addition to that, a mentorship program can be attractive to those looking to join your company because it indicates that you value the growth of your employees.
Creating a mentorship program in your company
Now that you know the benefits of having a mentorship program for your company, it’s time to start setting it up.
We’ve listed below the steps you need to take to effectively implement this in your organisation:
Secure management support
The first thing you should do is pitch the idea to management. Show them the fruits of your research about the positive effects mentorship programs have on companies around the globe.
Once management has signed off, you’ll have management backing that will give you an easier time in implementing the program.
Make a program outline
Once you’ve got the go signal from management, you’ll need to create the program’s outline. Set the program’s length and your expectations for it. You should also include the benchmarks for success in this outline.
During this step, you can also schedule the activities you’re looking to add to the program to encourage participation and interaction. Here are some activities you can consider:
- Industry discussions
- Professional development seminars
- Learning sessions
- Online training
- Team building activities
Now that you have an outline of how the program will be, you can now recruit mentors and mentees for the project. While doing this, it’s important that you make the process inclusive. You can make the process inclusive by adding online sign-up sheets to make it accessible to everyone in the organisation.
While you’re recruiting for participants, it’s key that you get the word out through different channels. You can post flyers around the work area, send out an email announcing the start of the product, or even message people directly. What matters is that you find willing volunteers who believe in what you’re doing.
Match mentors and mentees
Once you have a pool of mentors and mentees, it’s time to match them. There are several ways to pair up individuals, one way to do this is to collect data about each participant and personally match them according to their personality and goals.
Another option is to have the mentees choose a leader that they want to learn from. If you’re going with this option, you can create a short write-up that lists down the mentor’s expertise, hobbies, and job title.
Monitor the program’s progress
You’ve probably noted on your outline what metrics to look out for to monitor the program’s success. Make sure that your participants know of these benchmarks and to keep you informed of any updates.
This part of the program can be a great way to measure leadership success, employee participation, and the program’s success rate.
Check for success
As soon as you have the data about the progress of each mentorship, you can start to close in on how it translates to your company’s overall performance. See if it has boosted employee engagement and if it’s having a positive impact on the organisation.
If you see that the results are good, you can look to refine the program further for the succeeding years. However, if it’s not performing according to your expectations, you can ask for more information on how to better improve the system.
Activating your employees to mentor others may seem daunting at first. However, the rise of hybrid work setups has showcased that proximity to one’s mentees is just one part of the mentorship process and does not dictate its success. Through the use of technology, active mentorships can be achieved. Combined with the ability to do mentorships face-to-face, the relationship now encompasses traditional working conditions.
If you’re looking to further elevate your employee’s performance, you look to 6Q to help you craft employee surveys that can give you actionable feedback to help your company and employees grow further.
About the Author
Marc Bartolome is the Head of Business at SEO Services Australia, a strategist, and enabler of hundreds of successful digital marketing campaigns. Always looking out for the little guys, he specializes in helping SMEs create a bigger impact online – which is why he writes blog posts like this.