The Importance of Having
a Good Mentor
A mentor, basically, is someone who serves as a counselor or guide. Being asked to serve as a mentor is an honor. It indicates that the company has faith in the personís abilities and trusts him or her to have a positive impact on the situation. Many companies have discovered that the use of a mentor for new employees not only helps employees settle into their job and company environment, but also contributes to a lower turnover rate. The use of a mentor may be an informal, short-term situation or a more formal, long-term assignment.
In an informal mentoring program, the mentor usually helps the new employee for a limited period of time. Advice from the mentor may include the most basic of information about everyday routines including tips about ďdoís and donítsĒ not found in the employee manual to helping the employee learn job responsibilities. A mentor available to answer routine questions also saves time for the supervisor or manager. In addition, new employees often feel more comfortable asking questions of a peer instead of a supervisor.
In a program of this type, mentors often are volunteers. Forcing someone who does not want to serve as a mentor to do so can quickly create problems. Obviously, someone with a negative attitude, who might encourage a new employee to gripe and complain, should not serve as a mentor.
A more formal version of mentoring occurs when an organization appoints an employee with extensive knowledge and experience to serve as a mentor to a new professional the company feels has excellent potential for growth. The mentorís role usually lasts for an extended period of time and possibly may not end until the person mentored reaches the level of the mentor.
Whether informal or formal, both parties need to understand the parameters. These may be more important in a long-term, formal mentoring situation, but can also influence the success of short-term, informal mentoring.
Gregory P. Smith is a retention expert and shows businesses how to build productive work environments that attract, keep and motivate their workforce. He is the author of the forthcoming book called, Here Today Here Tomorrow: How to Transform Your Organization from High-Turnover to High-Retention. He speaks at conferences, conducts management training and is the President of a management consulting firm called Chart Your Course International located in Conyers, Georgia. Phone him at 770-860-9464 or visit http://www.chartcourse.com.