Home Professionalisms The Underrated Leadership Action That Entrepreneurs Should Prioritize: Mentorship

The Underrated Leadership Action That Entrepreneurs Should Prioritize: Mentorship

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by Christena Garduno, chief executive officer of Media Culture

As 2024 ramps up, employers are coming out of a year where the number of employees quitting has officially returned to pre-pandemic levels. While this is reassuring to business leaders who suffered during ‘The Great Resignation’ that plagued part of 2021 and 2022, it is by no means time for employers to skimp on their employee support and professional development practices.

Committing to the enrichment of team member growth and development is a must for leaders looking to both retain and attract new employees, creating benefits that support both the company and the workforce. Companies are 3.4 times more likely to be rated a best place to work if they employ people-forward talent practices, promoting employee development and satisfaction while benefitting the overall performance and outlook of the company.

As strategies for internal culture and support are being planned, it’s important for entrepreneurs and business leaders to add one key understated leadership practice — mentorship. Mentorship is one of the most effective ways leaders can develop and support their teams to withstand organizational challenges. Implementing a well-defined, strategic mentorship program can payoff in multiple ways for those looking to strengthen their own leadership skills while encouraging internal team growth.

Tapping into the Power of Mentorship 

Established mentors bring with them experience from a variety of industries and years of expertise working with people and personalities of all types. From learning the way that different personalities can work together towards a common goal to the nuances of a specific project type, mentors have the power to provide employees – both seasoned and new, with insights and support that they may not have access to on their own. A strong mentor can make a profound difference in the lives of their mentee, helping them build strong teams and drive change within the organization and professionally in their personal careers.

In challenging situations, having a mentor supporting you who is not only experienced, but also has confidence in your capabilities can make a difference. The strength of mentorship comes not only from the mentor’s industry experience, but also from the mentor’s commitment to providing empathetic support for employees as well. This includes tips for managing work-related anxiety, regular check-ins on workload and confidence-building techniques to fight against the ever-present imposter syndrome that can come from fear of failure.

Benefits of Mentorship in Leadership

Mentors serve a pivotal role in developing mentees with both hard and soft skills, as well as helping them navigate their work environment and all of the nuances that come with it. When leaders make time for the development of their career and personal growth, employees are more likely to stay at their job. They will also put in more effort to challenge themselves and feel more confident making moves independently.

With the proper mentorship framework and consistent efforts made by both the mentor and mentee, leaders will reap the benefits of mentorship through seeing higher employee productivity, increased job satisfaction, positive team collaboration and even the potential of hiring from within once a mentee has risen through the program. With a mentor guiding them through the steps it will take to advance within the organization, employees will build confidence and skillsets that allow the company to grow from within, furthering the strength of the entire team.

Putting Together a Mentorship Strategy 

When developing your mentoring program, it is important to consider many factors, including:

  • Employee eligibility – While every employee deserves the same level of support from management, mentorship eligibility should be well-thought out to ensure that each employee’s individual needs as a mentee is established first. What level of mentorship will be needed? The employee who’s been with the company for under a year may need a more rigorous program than those who are more established with the company, or vice versa if the seasoned employee has recently expressed lingering burnout or a lack of confidence to excel past their current role.
  • Matching mentors with mentees – People-first programs like mentorship mean going further than just assigning a mentor with a mentee blindly. While it can take time to match personalities based on the need of the mentee and experience of the mentor, curating a duo that will allow for the maximum amount of creativity, collaboration and growth will make the relationship the most beneficial. Discouragement can easily arise if a mentee is intimidated by their mentor due to rank, years of experience and communication styles, so be prepared to align teams that complement each other’s skillsets and personalities.
  • Timeframe and methods of communication – No two mentorship relationships are alike, and employees will have differing needs for the term of their mentorship. Establish the initial plan for the timeline of the program and be prepared to adjust it if the mentee needs more or less time spent speaking with their mentor. Also, while it may seem like a no-brainer, clarifying the methods of communication between mentor and mentee multiple times throughout the process will ensure that both parties are aligned, minimizing time for working out technical issues and maximizing the time spent on the mentorship activities.

Mentoring is not a linear process, but focusing on it as a benefit and taking the time to perfect a program can prove to be a valuable journey packed with possibilities for leaders. Whether the goal is retaining existing employees, advancing others or giving an outlet for employees to build genuine connections, mentoring creates a safe, consistent space for employees to be educated in their industry, build new skills and share their experiences.

Connections made through people-forward initiatives like mentoring will help to build a sense of place in the company or organization while creating opportunity or a path to it for your teams. When done strategically, mentoring programs can bring fresh distinction to your company culture, encourage employee participation and increase overall support within your organization. This requires a leader to take the time needed and commit to building a program that promotes not just business growth, but employee success.

 

Christena Garduno

Christena Garduno is an award-winning, inspirational female entrepreneur and leader recognized for her success, determination and creativity. Multi-entrepreneur Christena strives to motivate young, female professionals by encouraging them to use their own experiences as a guide in achieving their goals. Described as empowering and passionate, she inspires her brand and her audience to continuously learn, grow and thrive.


 

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