A new employee’s onboarding programme and on the job learning should always be the responsibility of their line manager. But it's wise also to allocate each new starter a mentor who can offer further advice, specific training on a particular skill and generally be the first port of call when their boss isn’t around. As well as being a hugely important person for the mentee, being a mentor can be a crucial developmental step for future line managers. Given this, new mentors need to be supported and set up for success too. Here’s our advice on how to mentor a first time mentor:
1. Brief Them Fully
Take them through the onboarding programme (again, the line manager should be the owner of this document but it’s a wise move to ask the mentor for their input so they feel actively involved).
Carefully outline your expectations - be specific about their responsibilities and how long you see the mentorship going on for. Urge them to set up regular meetings with their mentee and make an effort to track the mentee's progress effectively.
2. Measure Their Success
You want them to be successful in this role. To ascertain that be clear from the start about how that success will be measured. It may be there’s a specific skill you need the new starter to be trained in to a particular standard within a certain amount of time or a certain project that needs delivering that they have early involvement in. 360 feedback from the mentee and wider team members could be an important early gauge of the new starter’s engagement and overall potential if you feel its too early to measure performance. You may also want to ask the new mentor themselves how they would like to be measured.
3. Encourage Them To Be Proactive
In addition to the onboarding programme and their outlined mentorship responsibilities, other learning opportunities for the mentee are likely to arise in the first few months such as an interesting meeting, work project, course or social occasion. Mentors should definitely be encouraged to suggest a new employee’s involvement in anything that will further their immersion within the organisation.
4. Expect Them To Give Constructive Feedback To Their Mentee If Appropriate
This is often something that new mentors find very difficult to do. Whilst it’s important not to quash a new starters’ confidence (delivering good and bad feedback with a 70:30 ratio is a good steer here), if mentors have constructive feedback to give advise them do it quickly, in person and in private, always giving examples and coming to a mutually agreed course of action to ensure improvements are made.
5. Lead By Example
Be punctual, respectful and prioritise your own meetings with the new mentor so they appreciate how valuable their contribution is. Be an active listener, maintain eye contact, nod, and be interested in what they have to say. Demonstrate coaching skills yourself - asking them what they should do in particular situation rather than telling them how you would do it. In this way they will understand more than any other how you expect the role of a mentor to be carried out.
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