Mentoring Employees Tips

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Development and Integration – Parallel Not Sequential Functions

A recurring nightmare in management of technology development projects is the role of integration in the development process. Engineers and other technical professionals often become so involved with the issues of development that they push the important integration function off to the last moment. It is a typical alligator and swamp dilemma – which comes first?

The solution to this problem is exactly the same as with all technical problems; hard work and good management. The difference is that the good manager plans for incremental integration as early as possible in the development cycle. Incremental in this sense means partial and continuing. Engineers will balk at this approach citing the need to solve the problem before packaging and applying it in a real-world scenario. That is, frankly, an invitation to overrun and many long nights and weekends. A basic design principle best summarizes the situation: Design for form, fit and function. Function follows form and fit and if you follow that simple order you will seldom fail.


Managing Change

All organisms and organizations undergo frequent change. It is the successful manager, just as it is the evolving creature that handles change well. Be that manager by following a couple of simple rules:
1. Control that which you can control and adapt to that which you can't. A buyout is an event few managers can exercise any control over so it is always best to accept it and adapt to the changes it brings with cheer and enthusiasm. Conversely, a reorganization of your department or division may present opportunities for you to shine within the organization and achieve significant success over the previous situation.
2. Personnel changes can be a very unsettling event, don't let such occurrences sour your outlook or position. Good people come and go in every dynamic company. They may be superiors, peers or subordinates. Grousing and involving oneself in the inevitable office politics associated with this form of change never helps the successful or prospective manager.
3. Loss of a key account, client or project creates one of the most difficult of change situations. As with all unexpected events, opportunity lurks within. Use these situations to improve your station by swiftly analyzing the circumstances and suggest viable approaches to lessen the impact of the change to your team or management. This simple step will make you look like the consummate professional while your co-workers groan and complain about their bad luck – action is always better than talking about it.


Effective Management of Technical Experts

In the technical world, Subject Matter Experts (SME) can be the lifeblood of business development. Many of these individuals are young, highly educated, and suspicious of senior management. In order to get the most out of these talented experts, utilize the military principle of management by exception. Clearly state your objectives, ground rules, schedule, and then let them run with it. Closely monitor the project from a distance and provide help when asked. Interfere only when the situation warrants and you will build a great, creative force within your organization.


The Relationship Between Finance and Management

Young managers, regardless of the level of their education, often muse over the contribution of finance to overall business management. They fully recognize the role of marketing/sales and production to their efforts but relegate the ‘bean counters' to the world of mystery men. Don't fall into this trap. Learn as much as you can about the workings of the accounting function for it's the basic tool of doing your job efficiently. Equally, the role of credit, finance and related disciplines often drive (albeit behind the scenes) decisions by senior management that dictate how you do your job. Be a sponge, hang out with the bean counters and you'll be the beneficiary of what you learn.


Life in the Fast Lane

Successful managers are frequently faced with the difficult position of mixing one's family responsibilities with the demands of business. Effectively dealing with this dilemma can yield great results personally and in one's role as a manager.

Some people hold that business must always come first, even at the expense of the family. Others feel that balance, in the classic Chinese philosophical mold, is the ultimate solution. Unfortunately, a bit of both is more the case. Approach the conundrum as you would any other business problem. Evaluate the situation carefully and prioritize your findings. Recognizing that some business functions are time critical, such as proposal deadlines, client schedules and tax dates, place a rating on each. Do the same with your personal circumstances. You will quickly come to the conclusion that you can efficiently manage these often conflicting requirements of life to the ultimate satisfaction of all parties.

Notes: If you sense that all your business situations have the highest priority, then something is wrong with you, your management or your staffing level. Bad managers often use crisis management as a misguided motivational tool. The same applies to your personal life. Vacations are a needed benefit and readily schedulable. However, things like births and illnesses are not. Use your discretion wisely to avoid conflicts and the added stress they add to your life. Finally, my life and career experience has consistently shown that the vast majority of managers and family members are eminently reasonable. Communicate your issues clearly and concisely and you will have little difficulty balancing business and life.


Define the Mentor's Role

Treat those who assume the role of a mentor with honor - it is one of the biggest compliments you can give to an employee.

Let mentors know that their role is important, will be recognized, and included in their performance review process. Then add mentoring to your company's performance review format or guidelines. For example, select from the following expectations and use them in mentors' performance reviews.

"Serves as a Mentor:
• Nurtures mentoring buddy, demonstrates [specific functions], and serves as advocate.
• Conveys company's goals, explains how the goals benefit the organization.
• Helps mentoring buddy envision what outcomes will occur when the goals are achieved.
• Fosters independence and professional development in the mentoring buddy."


Mentor's Mission and Job

The mentor's mission and basic job is to:
•Share a vision of common goals. The mentor should take time to convey the company's goals, explain how the goals benefit the organization and employees' roles in achieving those goals. The mentor can help the buddy envision what outcomes will occur when the goals are achieved.
•Gain perspective on the mentee's point of view within the organization. Mentors need to take an interest by finding out significant facts about their buddy's life and career goals.
•Foster independence and mastery. Employees who have been mentored have greater confidence about taking risks out of their comfort zones, while living up to the responsibilities placed on them.

During orientation, present your company's mentoring program and your company's commitment to developing employees and enhancing opportunities.


Assess the Need for Mentoring Employees

Mentoring is about building relationships. Through relationships with others from whom we can learn, or who we can help to learn, everyone wins - the mentor, the mentee or "buddy", and the company! Ask your executive staff or more experienced employees how they perceive mentoring could support and build company culture. Use our Mentor's Survey to help gather the information.

Match Mentors with Mentees
Informal mentoring abounds...many people have been informal mentors without fanfare. So the first step in cultivating mentors may be to find out who is already doing it. Finding mentors may be as easy as talking with people about it.

When orienting a new hire, consider pairing the new hire with the person who last held the position and is still available to mentor his or her replacement.


Principles of Mentoring

Mentors will be recognized as key change agents within the organization who ensure, through mentoring, that the following principles are upheld.

•Risk taking and a willingness to take on new challenges are critical to personal growth and professional development.
•Teamwork and a willingness to nurture new employees is recognized and rewarded as critical to the organization.
•Individual potential is maximized in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
•Interaction and idea exchange is essential for growth.

One person may have more than one mentoring relationship. One may have a mentor in each of the areas or specialties of their field. Or, one may mentor two younger persons, depending on time commitments.


Ways to Match Mentors with Mentees

Other ways to match mentors with mentees:
• What is the most critical aspect of the company that needs to be conveyed, and who is best suited to convey that?
• What other needs of the company could be met by pairing up mentors and their buddies?
• What seasoned employee offers some specific expertise or experience, and what newer employee needs that help?
Other considerations:
• Who are the seasoned employees willing or inclined to serve as mentors?
• Are there employees among existing staff who need mentoring?
• What does the employee need - introductions, one-on-one training, how-to-do-it help, or "parenting"?
• How receptive is the employee to being mentored?


Evaluate Mentoring Relationship

Help them evaluate the effectiveness of the relationship after the first ninety days, based on the timeline they developed. Encourage them to use progress reviews to evaluate their success, and then celebrate milestones.


What are the Benefits of Coaching?

A manager who has coached others perceives coaching as today's most potent tool for multiplying effectiveness through others. It is exciting to see people grow and change, and know you are contributing to that growth.
A company executive or officer recognizes the benefits of coaching in the positive influence it has on employee commitment.

Employees who are coached well clearly view the structure and communication of coaching as a pathway to improved performance and accelerated professional development.


Reasons to Coach Employees

-We humans also need feedback and the opportunity to learn and respond at different rates, in different ways. Coaching allows the framework for recognizing and making use of every individual employee's needs.
-Coaching gives employees the support (advice, information, materials, understanding, encouragement) they need to perform their best,
-gives companies greater employee adaptability and productivity, and helps them hold on to valuable employees...and customers, and
-gives managers the ability to do more with limited resources, enhance the work environment, meet greater customer expectations, and deliver results.

Being coached increases employees' confidence, energizes them, and gives a sense of security about how the employer views them.


Mentoring Relationship

One person may have more than one mentoring relationship. For example, a young professional may have one mentor who helps her in technical skills development and another who introduces her to connections and networking opportunities in the industry. Likewise, a seasoned professional may be able to mentor two young beginners who need help in the mentor's area of expertise.


Prep for Mentoring and Coaching Employees

Mentoring is all about gaining perspective:
-Mentors enhance their understanding of their mentees' expectations and potential.
-Mentees deepen their knowledge of how they can develop and grow within the organization.

Before launching a mentoring program, determine the extent of informal mentoring that already exists within your company and the specific needs that mentoring could address.


Benefits of Coaching Employees

Coaching employees is an invaluable tool to increase your effectiveness so that you get recognition for your work as a competent manager, employees become more committed to their work, and your organization becomes more profitable.

What is Coaching?
Coaching employees is an approach to managing.
Coaching is a set of skills for managing.

A "coaching manager" is one who invests her or his time and energy in people to make the most of individual talents, utilize the group's combined energy, and create "buy in" to company policies and goals.

Coaching encompasses planning, goal setting, delegating, motivating, training, giving feedback on performance, and mentoring – all skills you use to help employees develop and improve performance.


Why Coach Employees?

As individuals, we try innately to fulfill certain basic needs and seek specific satisfactions from our lives and from the world around us. It is human nature to be more productive and more positive when feeling involved and valued.
When the workplace is an environment where individuals
• can learn from experiences,
• are consulted and involved,
• are considered relevant,
• are treated as equals, and
• are challenged to varying degrees,
. . . then employees perform best and leaders deliver results, so companies succeed!


Coaching and Mentoring Employees

Encourage both parties to work toward specific outcomes with open communication between both members of the mentoring partnership.
After several meetings between the partners, suggest that they think about the duration of the relationship. Will it continue indefinitely, or disband after specific goals and objectives have been met?

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Lynda Moultry