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Sir Richard Branson does it! Why don’t you?

3rd October 2014

Mentoring can be the making of managers and even of companies as a whole: Read 5 top tips for great mentoring from Creativedge

Many successful companies use mentoring to tackle human resource issues such as ensuring employee retention and strong productivity. Mentoring can impact positively on individual leadership development, and a range of other important management and business development skills for the workplace.

When it’s done well, good mentoring can affect the productivity of both parties involved, which in turn can have a positive repercussion on a wider company level.

Types of mentoring

Traditional mentoring focuses on developing junior employees by pairing them with more experienced, often senior staff for a period of time lasting from just a few months to a year or more.  More and more companies understand that a business mentoring programme can really impact on employees’ time in the company. For example, mentoring exiting staff who demonstrate great potential and management capability, could one day help with company succession planning. Don’t forget that mentoring can also apply upwards too:  senior company executives also need their finger-on-the-pulse with knowledge about the latest business best practices, trends and techniques.

Bottom line, regardless of its format and the person who undertakes it, mentoring is a way of sharing knowledge and experience using collaborative learning.

Take a look at five top tips for successful mentoring from Creativedge Training and Development:-

  1. Let the mentee choose their mentor.

Why? The mentor they chose must have credibility in the eyes of the mentee otherwise they won’t be receptive to their knowledge, advice and experience. There must be a strong ‘values fit’ between both parties if the mentoring will work.  The mentor must be someone from whom the mentee is prepared to learn, so the mentee can have final say about which ideas they want to take on board from them.


  1. Have a mentor OUTSIDE one’s own department

How so? As the mentor will give an opportunity for the mentee to step back and get a wider perspective on a situation. A mentor from a different department will give an impartial ‘helicopter’ view and won’t have a personal investment in the mentee choosing a solution for a challenging workplace situation: it allows for a truly objective perspective.  As such, having a mentor as far removed as possible from a mentees direct line of reporting can be massively beneficially.


  1. The mentee is in the driving seat

Good mentors want to share their knowledge and experience but are usually very busy professionals. As such, their time with the mentee is carefully set aside to ensure the mentee learns as much as possible in the time provided. This being the case, the mentoring that works best tends to happen when the mentee is proactive and takes the lead on setting times and dates for the mentoring course, flagging up issues beforehand they wish to discuss with their mentor, and identifying solutions to problems raised in previous meetings. By taking this approach, the mentee can realise their own potential and also show a truly proactive attitude.


  1. Mentoring is regular

It’s all too easy for people to get caught up in ‘firefighting’ in the office and following up on those outstanding daily activities. We’ve all done it! However, everyone needs to take a strategic look at the fires they are fighting and how to manage them more effectively. Staff that do this are on the road to being proactive, not reactive and mentoring is one way to facilitate this.

As such, it’s important for mentees to schedule specific time for mentoring that won’t be interrupted. Two hours (max) every quarter is recommended as a minimum, but times can be agreed between both parties to meet the needs of the mentee.


  1. Mentor and Mentee ‘Contract’

As it’s important to clarify who does what in the mentor-mentee relationship, so both parties should jointly agree a clear ‘contact’ and commitment to each other from the start. What should this ‘contract’ include? Think about it like this:-

–          What they WILL DO

–          What they WONT DO

–          What they CAN DO

–          What they CANT DO

This kind of contract will also clarify any areas which the mentor is not prepared or able to discuss with the mentee, so preventing any awkward situations in later mentoring courses.

In conclusion, it’s worth remembering that mentored employees really value collaboration and sharing of information, and this can lead to a stronger organisation as a whole: mentored workers are also more likely to become involved in professional organisations and associations and this can contribute in the long-term to their own and potentially to the company’s growth and development in the future. And if mentoring is practised and lauded by Sir Richard Branson, ask yourself why YOU aren’t getting involved!

You can check out more Creativedge bite-size tips on mentoring by visiting new ‘Top 10 Tips’ App available for iPhone, Android and Windows smartphones:-

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