How mentoring can drive performance
Let’s be clear. Mentoring should drive performance. After all, that’s why you’re doing it, to see some kind of improvement. And whether that improvement manifests as the mentee being more organised, more confident, better skilled, less stressed, or whatever, that change should translate, directly or indirectly into better performance.
Compared to coaching, mentoring is often more focused on personal development, perhaps towards the next job role rather than within the current one. Mentoring is often a longer-term arrangement with less specifically defined goals and outcomes and taking in a potentially wide range of issues determined by the mentee’s individual situation. And often, a mentor is experienced in the mentee’s line of work (perhaps a senior manager in the same organisations; someone who has achieved what the mentee is aiming for) and as such is well-placed to understand what does, and doesn’t, impact on performance if only through their own personal experience.
The potential difficulty is that while mentoring is a long-term process, bosses are often looking for (and driven by) short-term goals.
How does mentoring create performance benefits?
- Rapid development – Despite mentoring usually being a lengthy arrangement, it actually has the potential to produce rapid results. This is a process of development focused on a single individual: their needs, their skills, their responsibilities. This isn’t a generic course or programme that has to be applicable to a wide variety of people. This is a laser focus on one person’s performance and the factors that underpin it. It’s like hothousing a flower, providing the specific environment, temperature and nutrients for the rapid growth of that particular plant.
- The benefits of recognition – We all need our efforts to be noticed. And we’ve all had the disappointment of working hard, achieving our goal, and having no one recognise that fact. At minimum, a mentor provides direct recognition of the mentee’s personal achievements. In other words, somebody cares. And if somebody cares about the effort we put in, we’re more likely to put it in again.
- Better goal-setting – Mentoring is personalised but does not take place in a vacuum. Whatever individual goals are driving the mentoring process should be aligned with the mentee’s wider team and organisational goals. Thus ensuring that the resulting improved individual performance is also pushing forward the wider agenda.
- Better retention – Finally, the workforce wants personal development. A 2016 Deloitte Survey found that 63% of Millennials feel their leadership skills aren’t being developed and what’s more, 28% feel their skills are underutilised. The result is reduced loyalty and a greater willingness to change employers. Mentoring not only boosts skills, it also supports retention of your talent.
- Innovation – A hallmark of mentoring is the encouragement of new solutions to problems. Organisations are constantly changing, evolving, and yesterday’s successful process, attitude or policy may be tomorrow’s failure. Mentoring creates a dedicated space for solutions and problem-solving – a useful resource if the organisation is prepared to encourage it.
Naysayers may question the bottom line benefits of a mentoring programme but it’s an investment that can pay off for the organisation as well as the individual.
If you’d like to explore this further, check out our website for details or give us a call on 01582 714280.