Does your organization have a mentoring program? Have a well-structured employee mentoring program in place is a vital component to the mentoring experience. Read on for important tips from Insperity for shaping your organization’s mentoring program.

insperity v2Mentorship can play a critical role in the successful onboarding of new employees and the long-term development of existing team members. But how do you determine the right mentor for a particular mentee?

Should they be like-minded or in similar roles? Or, should the mentor be strong in the skills that the employee needs the most growth in? What role does personality fit play?

First, a definition: A mentor is not another boss, but a helpful confidant who gives relevant, occasional feedback and guidance that helps the employee gain needed skills.

Mentoring is different from performance management. A mentor program targets those employees who are already performing well and need extra input to grow and reach their full potential.

Mentoring is not remedial learning. If an employee is underperforming or has some other workplace problem, their manager must tackle the issue through coaching and other performance management techniques, not by selecting a mentor.

Know what you want to accomplish

The type of mentor you choose for an employee depends on your business goals. Does the employee in question need help with technical skills or leadership skills? Is this a new employee or a long-term employee?

You first need to know what you want to accomplish to successfully pair a mentor and mentee.

For instance, a new employee will probably benefit from a mentor who helps them learn about your business’s cultural norms and processes. This mentor should have an open mind and an open ear to candidly speak about processes and the best ways to navigate the environment.

They should also be experienced and organized enough to explain key procedures, and communicate clearly and consistently.

On the other hand, if you’ve identified a junior machinist who needs to learn a particular technical skill, you’ll want to pick a mentor who has that skill and who also communicates well.

If a junior executive wants to become a senior executive, the mentor should be able to offer guidance on cultural norms and processes, look for ways the mentee’s potential can benefit the organization and facilitate getting the mentee connected to these new opportunities.

A mentor should have the necessary communication skills and desire to be a continual learner, not someone with a tired or know-it-all attitude. Mentors should also be willing to share ownership and accountability for the work, giving the mentee credit when it’s due. Remember, mentoring is a two-way street, so pick a mentor who is willing to listen, give good counsel and learn from their mentee.

Another aspect of that two-way street: Not all mentors have to be older, long-time employees. Maybe one of your younger employees can help an older one gain confidence in using new software or social media for work or offer up-to-date information on the latest business technologies and workplace trends.

Yes, pairing employees with similar viewpoints, life experiences and work styles may help the relationship succeed, but ultimately the match should be determined by your organization’s needs.

Success requires structure

Larger companies often build significant structure around their mentor programs, with formal pairings, training and reporting required. That sort of structure may not be practical for a smaller business, but to be successful your mentor program will still need some definition.

What that structure looks like will be determined by the business goals you identified earlier. But, you still need to define goals, expectations and schedules. You also need to make sure both the mentor and mentee have time to accomplish the goals you set.

For example, if the mentee needs to gain technical expertise, the mentorship may consist of the mentor teaching specific skills and the mentee practicing at consistent times followed by question-and-answer periods. A mentor-mentee pairing like this may only last a few weeks or months, with a clearly defined goal that technical expertise will be attained by a certain date.

Follow-up is important too. Ask questions such as:

  • Did the mentorship help you learn that new skill or refine an existing skill?
  • Did the program help you get more comfortable in your new job?
  • Was it a good use of your time?
  • Do you feel better prepared to handle the work ahead?

Answers to these questions will help you determine whether your mentor-mentee pairs are a good fit. If they’re not, don’t hesitate to break up a pair and reassign them to other people. Mentor pairs are as individual as the people involved, and not everyone will be compatible.

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Does your brand have a “special sauce” for marketing and attracting new job candidates? This week’s member guest blog is by Insperity Social Media Manager, Recruiting Services, Kara Singh. Singh shares strategies for getting your company noticed in a crowded job market and recruiting top talent. 

insperity-ogIn a recent survey, more than two-thirds of hiring organizations indicated that they’re having a difficult time recruiting for job openings, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

With a lower unemployment rate and more job openings, it’s becoming increasingly critical for employers to make sure they get noticed in the crowded job market.

Here’s how to mix up your employer brand, so it begins to stand out.

1. Create a consistent message

Your reputation is everything. You’ve heard it before. But what does that mean in the context of being an employer in a competitive job market?

It means prioritizing the special sauce that is your employer brand. Your employer brand should tell candidates why they should want to work for you.

What makes your company culture so appetizing? Why do your employees want to come to work every day? What do they look forward to? What benefits do they enjoy?

For example, you might find that employees like how your company facilitates a collaborative work environment or that they love your community involvement team activities.

As you answer these questions, you’re beginning to build your employer brand and making your company a more attractive place to work.

2. Define your company culture

Your company culture should attract the employees you want, while repelling those who don’t fit your culture.

While the bones of it should be a reflection of your company’s core mission, vision and values, it’s the real experiences of your employees that are the meat and potatoes of your culture.

That’s why you need to have a management team that walks the walk. For example, do your leaders model your values? Do your values challenge them to do their best every day?

Use employee surveys to take the temperature of your company culture and make sure it’s meeting your standards. Employee feedback can help to ensure your culture isn’t half baked.

When you feel confident that you know and understand what sets your company apart, entice job candidates by sharing the secret ingredients of your culture as you interview.

For instance, if your company places emphasis on corporate responsibility, you might ask a question that lends itself to the topic so you can integrate it naturally into the conversation. You could ask “How do you make a difference in your community?” You can follow up their response with details on how your company gives back.

By offering up these vibrant details, you can create a competitive edge in the job market as you look to fill vacant positions.

3. Define your benefits

Prospective employees want more than just a good work environment. They’re also seeking benefits that are comparable or better than what they’re receiving in their current role. This includes things like health, life and disability insurance, retirement savings plans, and paid time-off.

If you’re a smaller company, you may think you can’t compete with big company benefits. However, there are many perks you might be able to offer that bigger companies don’t.

For example, do you allow flexible work schedules or telecommuting? Do you offer on-site snacks in your break room? Do you have a job shadowing program that can help employees expand their skills?

Special perks can help set your company apart. Be sure to clearly define these extra benefits and share them with potential employees.

4. Develop employee ambassadors

With a great employer brand, company culture and employee benefits, you’d think it’d be a piece of cake finding new talent.

But the truth is that finding good people will still take work. Luckily, you can look to your current workforce for assistance.

You won’t find better ambassadors for your company than your own employees, but you’ll need to guide them to ensure they’re accurately communicating the best attributes of your brand.

To become ambassadors, your employees must be engaged in your business with a commitment to your mission, vision and values. They should easily be able to describe your culture. They should know how to pepper in the perks of their jobs.

With some basic training in these areas, you can easily empower your employees to become brand ambassadors and recruit talent from their own contacts. For example, you might have a training session for employees where you go over company talking points and how to create and manage a LinkedIn presence. Social media offers a great avenue for employees to instantly reach candidates you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

5. Monitor your reputation on the internet

You wouldn’t expect someone to eat at a restaurant with bad reviews. Why would you expect someone to work for an employer with negative ratings?

Potential job candidates today have access to a vast amount of online information about your company before they even step foot in the door for interviews. You want to make sure this information reflects as positively as possible on your company.

With sites like Glassdoor, an online forum where former employees can describe their experiences with your company, you want to make sure you’re defending your employer brand by telling your side of the story, too. While you can’t undo criticism, you can show your transparency and willingness to listen.

For instance, did a disgruntled employee leave an unsavory comment about his or her experience? Take the time to respond publicly and show potential candidates reading it that you care.

Also, consider setting up Google Alerts to keep tabs on how your brand is represented online. Every time your company name is mentioned online, Google will send you an email alert.

Additionally, keep an eye on social media sites. There are a variety of social monitoring tools available that allow you to follow mentions of your brand.

Keep your eye on the prize

With new strategies in tow, you’re better prepared to take on the competitive landscape.

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