The long-term success of your organization relies on the development of younger employees, whether they move into management or continue their skills development. Mentoring is a low-cost, high-impact strategy to help keep both young and seasoned IT employees engaged and interested in learning, while simultaneously building a team that boasts chemistry and productivity.
Why Invest In Mentoring?
A well-developed mentoring program can generate several positive outcomes for employees and the organization as a whole. The key to success is ensuring your program addresses a need. First, you must define that need. Common reasons why teams engage in mentoring include:
- Leadership development and succession planning
- Onboarding new hires
- Cultivating culture
- Improving long-term retention rates
- Ensuring knowledge transfer for employees nearing retirement
Defining the need for the mentoring program allows you to ultimately measure success. If you don’t know why you are doing it, you cannot determine if the program adds value.
Mentoring: A Low-Risk Investment
Mentoring programs are far less expensive than formal training and development programs. In IT, they cannot take the place of ongoing formal training and certification programs, but many tech skills are self-taught. Mentoring facilitates growth and learning in a personalized way that isn’t achievable in classroom settings.
Along the way, IT teams with mentoring programs become stronger. Mentor-mentee relationships help bridge generational gaps in the workplace and gives team members new avenues for overcoming challenges and seeking help. This enhanced team spirit deepens engagement and helps to keep processes moving when an employee goes on vacation or must take sick leave.
Making Mentoring Work For Your Team
A mentoring program must be carefully planned in order to avoid common pitfalls. If you are considering mentoring, be sure your program is strategic and purposeful, keeping these factors in mind:
- Make thoughtful matches: Don’t just throw a seasoned employee with someone new. Make matches based on skills, personality, the needs of the mentee and the needs of the department.
- Facilitate two-way learning: Mentoring should be a two-way relationship where the mentor is open to learning new approaches and strategies from his or her mentee.
- Set goals: Each pair should have a set of written goals. They may be to learn new skills, improve a process, etc. Just make sure the goals are measurable.
- Mandate delegation: As part of the program, the mentor should hand off work to the mentee from time to time. This should be overseen by the team leader, however, so that the delegation is purposeful. Have the mentor constructively critique the work, and only encourage managers to step in if something goes wrong.
- Check in regularly: Managers should meet with mentors and mentees together and one-on-one at least once a month to check progress and receive feedback.
- Make it one piece of the puzzle: Mentoring should not take the place of all training and development initiatives. It should enhance, not replace.
Mentoring can create positive outcomes across the board, but only if it is given the right time, attention and follow through. These relationships allow all employees to grow personally and professionally, improve retention and promote the growth of strong teams.
If you are looking for new ways to improve your IT hiring and retention processes, the tech recruiting experts at Systems Personnel in Buffalo can help. We can connect you with the tech talent you need to keep your business moving forward. Contact us today to learn more about the ways in which we can help you achieve your recruiting goals.