The Value of Mentoring In Improving Retention

If your business wants to keep excellent employees, bring out the best in the workforce and boost morale and enthusiasm, it could be time to develop a mentoring scheme says Alison Bagley, Bid Manager, Mouchel. 

Having been through a recession period in recent years where many companies have reduced their workforce, we now find ourselves in a period of recruiting back into industry. The last thing an employer wants is to lose good people from their business. So what part can mentoring play in employers keeping (and attracting) the right people?

Benefits

Mentoring in the workplace has some proven benefits: a mentor gives the mentored person a sense of value making them more likely to stay; the relationship of trust provides a safe haven for the mentored to talk through issues and ‘niggles’; working together can enthuse both mentor and mentored; and staff development means a higher performance both in individuals and the company as a whole.

What does a Mentor do?

A mentor isn’t the same as a coach or teacher. There are some significant differences. A good mentor must want to help others and be willing to devote time and effort to another person’s needs. If someone takes on a mentoring role believing it will do more for their career than that of those they mentor then it’s unlikely to work out that way. They must be sure to focus on the person they are mentoring sharing their experiences and knowledge in a supportive and appropriate way, not trying to manipulate the mentored person. When done properly, it is a selfless task. 

MentorCoach 
Usually a senior member of staff with experience of the business Usually a member of staff with expertise in a specific skill or discipline
Works with the person being mentored to identify their ambitions for personal and professional developmentTeaches the person to improve and develop their skills in a specific business area
Builds a trusting relationship with the person to enable a “safe space” to discuss and learn Relationship based on a pupil/teacher dynamic
Works with a person to create a programme of development and learning and supports them through challenges and opportunities Imposes a programme of learning onto an individual or team to meet business needs
Always delivers mentoring on a one to one basis, providing the mentored person with individual focusMay coach individuals and teams, not necessarily focused on one person but on the development needs of the business 
Someone who doesn’t work with the person they mentor on a daily basisUsually someone who works closely with that person or team

How does mentoring help retain staff in a business? 

There are many reasons why staff move from one company to another but surprisingly pay is not always the biggest factor. 

Mike Myatt, recognised author of thought pieces on leadership and business culture, lists the top 1-0 reasons why good people leave as: 

  1. you failed to unleash their passions 
  2. you failed to challenge their intellect
  3. you failed to engage their creativity 
  4. you failed to develop their skills 
  5. you failed to give them a voice 
  6. you failed to care
  7. you failed to lead 
  8. you failed to recognise their contributions 
  9. you failed to increase their responsibility 
  10. you failed to keep your commitments

Summary of Benefits 

Mentoring can help address many of these issues. Having a structured mentoring programme in a business, where individuals each have an assigned mentor, who provides support to that person in their development as well as being confidant, can significantly improve the chances of those individuals staying in the business, growing in the business, developing better skills and experience and improving retention. Good for the individual, good for the business, worth the investment. 

Reason for LeavingHow mentoring addresses this issue
Poor working relationshipsThe mentor gives an individual the opportunity to discuss issues he or she may have with colleagues/management in a safe and confidential environment. The mentor may be able to put the individual’s concerns into context and advise on a course of action to remedy the situation/s
Lack of challenge The mentor will be aware of the capabilities of the individual and the type of work they do. If an individual feels that they need more challenge then this can
be discussed and objectives set to inspire and drive them. As a senior member of staff, and therefore aware of the business the individual works in, the Mentor can discuss the opportunities for challenge with the individual’s line manager to identify any opportunities.
Lack of development
opportunity
The mentor can work with an individual to identify how they want to develop, what steps they can take and sponsor applications for funding from the business by developing a business case for investment in that person’s development, demonstrating how it meets business needs.
Inability to demonstrate
skills and abilities
Again, a mentor will work with the individual to identify what skills and abilities an individual has and the reasons why they feel a lack of opportunity to use them exists. Based on these discussions the mentor can advise an individual on how to address any issues and can intercede on their behalf with their department/manager to discuss possible opportunities to use their skills more fully.
Feeling under-valuedProviding a mentor shows the company is investing in an individual. Also, a mentor provides a ‘safe haven’ to discuss any issues and can provide reassurance. Often this may be all that is needed. The mentor can help the individual to put things into perspective and work on a solution to the issues which have resulted in that person feeling undervalued.
Lack of recognitionVery similar to feeling undervalued and again the mentor can provide perspective and help in developing a plan of action.
Being ‘unheard’The mere fact of having a mentor means that an individual is being ‘heard’. This issue may relate to an individual’s working relationship or the culture of
the organisation. The mentor can help the individual by providing support and perspective and possibly interceding on their behalf.
BoredA mentor can listen to the individual’s reasons for feeling this way, and work with them to develop a plan of action to address this.
Broken promisesAgain, the mentor provides a ‘safe haven’ for discussing issues arising and as a senior member of staff may be able to intercede on the individual’s behalf where appropriate to do so.
Lack of leadershipAs a senior member of staff the mentor will probably be seen as a leader. If this is a common issue arising then it can be addressed by the business and is much more likely to come to light through a structured mentorship programme than if it is confined to ‘corridor’ whispers.

IAM members have access to an IAM mentor scheme, through our trusted partner cornerstone you are also eligible for a free initial mentoring consultation. For more information contact: info@instam.org

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