As a background investigation company, we operate in the HR space, and are always interested in learning more about management best practices. In our own company, we work to improve the training, development and caring of individuals at all levels and areas. Our best effort takes the form of a robust mentoring program. A 2016 article from Forbes stated that, “mentoring is the key to success for young professionals.” The seminal 2004 “The Women and Men in U.S. Corporate Leadership: Same Workplace, Different Realities” report stated that, “having an influential mentor was among the top career advancement strategies.” At Victig, we’ve built a robust mentoring program where everyone receives either an internal or external coach or mentor. As we’ve researched mentoring, we’ve found the following consistent components comprise a quality program:
- Mentoring must be voluntary; don’t pressure team members. Any type of forced partnering, which could include social pressure or perceptions that “mentoring is a path towards promotion” will undermine quality mentoring.
- Work to build a culture around coaching, learning and constant improvement. Overly constructed strategy efforts tend to fail under their own weight. Alternatively, developing cultures of learning and patience, ones that acknowledge that strategy is crafted over time, encourage mentoring relationships.
- Peer mentoring is just as important as more common senior/junior relationships.
- Ask your team members what they value. Not only is this critical for building appropriate compensation packages, it’s central to development, training and coaching. Good team members will inform their leadership what they value in their professional experiences.
- Strive for an equal workplace. Great companies and organizations work to even the interpersonal and power dynamics in their organizations, and ensure that everyone feels and knows they’re valued.
- Open up cultural issues and problems to everyone. Many owners and managers feel like this deeper work is their domain. Our experience suggests that asking team members to develop solutions to company culture enfranchises everyone, and encourages deeper and more meaningful interaction throughout a company.
- Use social media to build these ongoing cultural and coaching conversations.
- Maintain transparency in all interactions. The strongest organizations leverage openness to encourage a variety of positive results.
While the above items have become our approach to mentoring, engaged organizations will of course craft and adjust programs to fit their needs. By doing so, teams are likely to see quality improvements in morale, productivity and camaraderie.