The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a mentor as “an experienced or trusted advisor.” If you took a minute to think about the impression a mentor has had in your life, you would likely deem it to be positive and extremely impactful.
Mentors are an important part of an individual’s growth and have tremendous benefits to businesses as well. According to an article published on Inc.comthere are 3 reasons companies need a mentoring program: it shows the company cares, it creates a more engaged workforce, and it results in high job satisfaction.
We have had a pretty informal mentorship program at Evia for a few years now. The process begins with assigning every new hire a mentor who has previously worked, or has experience in the new hire’s position. The mentor meets weekly with the new employee during the 90-day onboarding period to guide the mentee through the process and answer any questions. It is then up to the mentor and mentee to decide if they would like to keep the mentor relationship going beyond the 90 days.
With the success of employees in the mentor program, we came to realize the need to formalize the process and expand the program beyond new hires. We started doing research, and while there are companies doing some amazing things, there are few examples of companies similar to our size (under 50 employees). Based on what we saw was successful for larger companies, we knew we need to make a clear distinction between those who train and those who mentor employees. On-the-job training and mentoring are two very different things. We determined the need for a mentor pool to be filled with people who wanted to mentor, and not just whom the hiring team selected. We launched an internal initiative, formed a team of employees passionate about this topic, and we were off.
We named the initiative the Personal Professional Development Program (PPDP) to emphasize the importance of developing personal and professional goals. To apply to be in our pool of mentors, individuals fill out a formal application. Our selection committee selects people who have strong skills on a given topic (Excel, for example) to offer training based on their knowledge. We believe the most important aspects of mentorship are the desire to mentor and sharing in the success of the mentee. The next step in developing the PPDP program will be creating an online platform for our team to search for mentors and trainers based on a variety of skills, so that they can be matched up with their ideal asks.
A recent new hire commended how much we invest in our employees, from our enrollment in a Team Effectiveness Program and engaging company meetings to 1-on-1 goal development and leadership training. When I take a step back and evaluate what we do, I couldn’t agree more. We invest in time, resources, training, coaching and mentoring. As Steven Spielberg states, “the delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” I challenge each of you to look at your training and onboarding programs. Incorporating a mentorship aspect has been a great business decision for Evia and I know it will be the same for you.