What is mentoring?
In general, the concept of mentoring is applied to the field of business enterprise, where entrepreneurs with a solid track record accompany entrepreneurs or start-up managers to advise them on how to develop their business projects.
However, the figure of the mentor is also active in other areas: for example, some universities have senior students who mentor new students and introduce them to university life so they don’t feel alone or lost. In the area of health there are peer support programs, especially when one person has just been diagnosed with a serious illness and relies on another who has been diagnosed for a longer period, and of course, mutual support regarding addictions.
Going back to the business environment, the figure of the mentor can be useful in a very similar way to that of the senior students in the universities we have mentioned. Joining a new job in a large company, where processes are complex and everyone is unknown, can be done more efficiently if a mentor (a senior colleague) accompanies the newcomer during the onboarding process. This will have a very positive impact on employee experience since it will enhance motivation, feeling of belonging, and integration in the team, efficiently creating productivity improvement.
Who carries out the mentoring? The figure of the mentor
In general, we can consider a mentor as a coach who uses their role and experience as key tools to foster the mentee’s learning.
Ideally, the relationship established between mentor and mentee should benefit both sides. Apart from other qualities to be developed, the mentor’s strength lies precisely in their experience in the area in which the mentee needs support. So, the other key element in the mentor-mentee relationship, along with the asymmetry between a beginner and an experienced person, is the level of reciprocity that exists between them. That relationship in which someone experienced shares their knowledge with someone new to that particular field is what facilitates mutual development.
What qualities should a mentor have?
1. Active listening and observation
The mentor cannot know the person they’ll have and will probably have in front of them for some time if they don’t go through the trouble of listening or observing the person before expressing opinions or making indications. The first thing to do is to find out who the person is, what they need, why now, why with that particular mentor, what their expectations are, and, in short, where they are in their personal or professional development.
2. Critical analysis skills
The mentor must be able to understand the employee’s profile in detail and identify skills and areas for improvement. In parallel to listening and observing, the mentor processes the information they collect, ordering and interpreting it, in such a way that they can provide the mentee with the conclusions they are reaching and make sure that they are understanding each other. It is a matter of establishing a starting point where goals will be set and aim to achieve them.
3. Communication skills
The mentor must have the ability to effectively communicate their experience (points of view, achievements, knowledge). If possible, they should be a pleasant person who conveys reliability, empathy, and patience. But they should also be good communicators, generous transmitters of their ideas, examples, and experiences in such a way that the mentee is inspired by the views, achievements, and learnings acquired by the mentor.
4. Differentiate between the mentee and the mentor
The mentor must be clear about the functions and objectives of their role. They must maintain a certain distance and not interfere unconsciously in the process that the mentee needs and can carry out at this point in their career. It is a matter of helping the mentee to learn, develop and implement their professional profile, not of turning them into a copy of the mentor.
5. Openness and flexibility
In addition to the qualities we have just mentioned, the mentor’s attitude must be defined by openness and flexibility to adapt to the particular needs and characteristics of the individual they are mentoring. This will allow them to give appropriate feedback, set the right pace, encourage when necessary, and suggest limits when they consider it appropriate for the right development of the person being mentored.
Main functions of mentoring
A mentor needs to fulfill multiple and diverse functions: these must be adapted to each mentor and mentee pair in particular.
–Reception: receiving the person during the process of joining the company or onboarding or during their first steps in the establishment of their business project.
–Support: This takes place throughout the process and is based on the role of the mentor as a reference point from which the person being mentored can be inspired to make their decisions.
–Advice: This is all the help, guidance, and advice that, from their own experience, the mentor provides to the person they are mentoring.
How can you benefit from mentoring?
Mentoring new employees or employees of your partner companies can’t be done in just any way. For it to be a successful process it is important to ensure a good match (an adequate assignment of a mentee to a specific mentor), to train mentoring skills in the people in charge of carrying it out, and, of course, to integrate mentoring within the strategy of human capital management, performance evaluation and care of the employee’s experience through the support of their well-being.
Ifeel has created an emotional well-being program for companies, designed by its team of expert psychologists to help companies improve employee experience, for both those who are joining the company and those who have already been part of the team for some time.
Through this partnership, HR managers are provided with personalized, data-driven advice on the main risk factors to ensure team members, whether new or long-standing, feel integrated with the company and can grow and develop professionally thanks to the guidance of role models who support them in this process.
In addition, this emotional well-being program for companies offers employees a service to improve their mental health structured at different levels according to their needs at any given time through ifeel‘s app. They can also receive emotional support through a chat with one of our platform’s licensed psychologists. If additional help is needed, they can access level three of the program: online psychological therapy with a psychologist specializing in the area the employee is struggling with.
Get in touch today and request more information about ifeel‘s emotional well-being program for companies.