Mentor: Be one - you'll double the odds of keeping themBy Bev Kaye
A recent study said mentored employees are twice as likely to stay as employees with no mentor. The even better news is mentoring doesn't have to be difficult or even time-consuming. In fact, here are five simple recommendations for mentoring behaviors that you can begin to apply today.
So What's a Mentor to Do?
- Modelâ€”The best mentors serve as models for their mentees. Be aware of your own role-modeling, plus point out others who are good role models for your people. Be authentic. Let people see you handling situationsâ€”both good and badâ€”under both great conditions and poor ones. It takes courage to show the real you, but it does pay off.
- Encourageâ€”Support your people in the risk taking that's essential to their growth. Encouragement truly is "all-in-the-eye-of-the-perceiver." An employee says, "He never encouraged me." Meanwhile, the manager says, "I encouraged her all the time." Find out if your employees are feeling encouraged or discouraged by you and your actions. Then shift your behaviors to support employees more and cheer on those talented people you can't do without.
- Nurtureâ€”Get to know your people, including their unique skills, talents, and capabilities. Show them you care. Support their ideas and encourage them to become creative problem solvers. Nurture the relationship you have with them. Have coffee and find out how their families are, or learn about their favorite sports or beloved pets.
Realityâ€”Everyone knows at least one sad story of a brilliant employee with everything to offer who derailed because of political blunders, poor interpersonal skills, or ignorance of the unwritten rules. You can effectively mentor and prevent those missteps by telling it like it is. Your people want to know your point of view. They want to know your take on how people get and give resources, what kinds of influence strategies work and don't work, what certain senior leaders want and don't want in their reports, their presentations, their meetings. And they want to know this before they walk into a minefield, or, at the very least, they want to be able to look at something that didn't work and understand why.
Invite your employees to talk about any of the following questions. You start.
- What have I learned about what counts in this organization?
- How have my failures and successes helped me to develop?
- What most surprised me about the culture? And what was the most difficult shift for me to make?
- What are the ways to really get in hot water around here?
- How do people derail themselves?
- What do I know now that I wish I knew then?
The Bottom Line
We have never heard of a manager who mentored too much and thereby lost an employee. We've never heard of a manager who coached too often and thereby lost an employee's trust. We've never heard of a manager who talked too frequently about how he or she saw the organizational world and failed to retain talent for that reason. Your employees want you to teach them the ropes, and they know their careers will suffer if you don't. The manager who is able to adapt mentoring behaviors as part of the everyday work will find that there is a strong payback in employee loyalty and retention.