Balance With Direction: Career Progression Through Mentoring


The workplace is changing. Employees are no longer confined to primary roles without opportunities for growth. Today’s employees are encouraged to augment their skills with cross training and to delve into other areas and responsibilities. Organizations are getting creative with job titles and responsibilities as they look to create a workforce that is versatile and capable of performing multiple tasks and wearing different hats.

In the midst of all of this, employees are spending less and less time with a single organization. They’re making the decision to leave for greener pastures, either because they’re not being valued for their potential or because they haven’t figured out how to take advantage of the resources available to them. We need to take a moment and think about how we can create an work environment that is both supportive and challenging, and that will serve to keep employees satisfied and engaged throughout the course of their careers.

One of the best ways to bring balance in the workplace is through mentoring. The importance of mentoring has become apparent in all areas of an organization. The presence of a true mentor will ensure that your employees receive support, encouragement, and guidance. A mentorship serves as a safety net around them, encouraging them to take risks and realize their potential without fear of alienation. Employees grow to trust and confide in their mentors in ways that are not possible with managers or supervisors. This provides a great opportunity to voice grievances and concerns, factors that could ultimately lead to an employee’s decision to leave a company.

A good mentor can transform an employee’s mindset from one of unsatisfied detachment to energetic optimism. At the same time that it creates the environment employees are looking for and motivates them to stay, a successful mentoring program directly contributes to reduced organizational costs through lower attrition rates and hiring costs. Employees are more likely to stick around and use the resources available to them to work harder and scale up the organizational ladder. 

To sum it up, a mentor’s presence can do the following:

  • Help an employee in areas of personal and professional growth
  • Be a source for ideas, inspiration and experience
  • Cater to an employee’s needs in terms of knowledge transfer and career advice
  • Offer support and empathize in times of confusion
  • Help mentees expand their professional network by connecting them with other industry professionals
  • Encourage them to take up new projects apart from their delegated project
  • Give employees tips on how to become an effective team player/leader
  • Lend constructive feedback to improve mentees’ work

All these factors combined together will create a work environment that fosters learning and career progression. Mentors are not just advisors; they are role models with the power to boost morale, infuse confidence, and bolster engagement in their mentees. Motivated employees are much more likely see the value in the resources available to them, to learn new skills and take on new roles, and to take pride in their position within the company.

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Mentoring Toolset: Exercising Resources That Count


As with any job, mentoring is made more powerful if you have the right tools—tools of the trade, if you will. They might look a little different than other tools commonly used in work—you won’t find any hammers or electric drills here—but they are equally as important. Just like a teacher needs resources like a classroom, projector, textbooks, worksheets and assignments, a mentor needs the resources that will allow them to communicate with a mentee, track their progress, and build their skills.

Depending on whom you talk to, you could come up with a laundry list of appropriate tools for mentoring, so I’m only going to list some of the fundamental ones here. Without the right equipment, you’ll have a hard time effectively planning a mentorship or managing its progress.

Program Outline and Worksheet

Think of this as a partnership agreement. The program outline and worksheet allows you to lay out the terms of the mentorship, including your expectations of the mentee. The worksheet should include prompts that will assist the mentee is outlining their own expectations of the mentorship. The purpose of the worksheet is not just to provide the mentee with an idea of what the mentorship will entail, but also to get them thinking about what they really want out of the program.

Mentorship Timeline

Mentorships vary in length, but no matter how long or how short a mentorship lasts, it should always follow a clearly defined roadmap from beginning to end. Creating a timeline of activities will allow both you and your mentee to plan ahead, stay on track, and see the progress of the relationship. A typical mentorship timeline might include the following events:

  • Mentor/Mentee matching
  • Kick-off meeting for introductions
  • Program outline and worksheet to set goals and expectations
  • Set schedule for ongoing communication via online platform, email, phone, and face-to-face meetings
  • Complete mid-mentorship evaluations and review
  • Complete end-of-mentorship evaluations and program review

You’ll decide the timeframe your timeline will cover as well as the chronological order of events and corresponding dates. Keeping a clear timeline of events will give the mentorship momentum and set both you and your mentee on track for success.

Mentorship Management Platform

As with any mentorship, communication is key. Regular and easy communication between a mentor and mentee will build trust, accountability, and confidence. Having effective means of communication can sometimes be challenging, especially in the busy world we live in. A mentorship management platform like the one offered by MentorCloud allows you to leverage a powerful tool for mentorship management. Not only will you have an effective means of communication that is not restricted by schedules or location, but you’ll also have a central homebase for all of your mentorship needs. In addition to mentor/mentee interaction, a mentorship management platform allows you to share valuable information, track the progress of your mentorships, assign tasks to mentees, access resources like shared documents and videos, and collaborate with other mentors and mentees in the network. With this tool, you’ll be able to take your mentorships to the next level.

Video Conferencing

In terms of communication, face-to-face meetings are not always the viable option. What often happens with mentorships limited to in-person interactions is that time goes by and the meetings don’t take place, a practice that considerably reduces the effectiveness of a mentorship. Video conferencing can act as a supplement or even substitute to in-person meetings. With all the video conferencing technology at our fingertips today—and most of it free—it would be foolish not to take advantage of this valuable tool for mentoring. 

Evaluation Worksheets

Feedback is one of the major components of a successful mentorship, and that goes for both mentor and mentee. After you’ve set expectations and goals, followed a timeline of activities and events, and spent time interacting, completing tasks, and building skills, it’s time to evaluate each other and the program overall. Evaluations should be done in the middle of the mentorship and at the end, but it’s also reasonable to include a couple more at regular intervals just to gauge progress.

Learning Notebook

Throughout the course of a mentorship, a lot of ideas, suggestions, and advice will be shared. It’s hard to keep track of all that information, especially if you’re working fulltime and have other responsibilities. A learning notebook can be an effective means of recording all that valuable data, ensuring you’ll have an easy method of referencing it later and applying it to future mentorships or growing careers. Notebooks can be in digital or paper form, depending on preference. If used effectively, it’ll be a virtual treasure trove of priceless resources.

Building a mentorship with direction and momentum is a challenging endeavor, but having the right tools on hand will bring you that much closer to success. You'll put yourself on track to transforming your mentorship from mediocre into memorable.

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation. 



The Accountability Factor: Teaching Mentees to Take Ownership

A good mentor knows that their role encompasses many lessons, but one of the most important is accountability. I’m not just talking about taking responsibility for your actions or being proactive, although these are both important skills to learn from a mentor. When I talk about accountability, I’m referring to the extra layer of motivation a mentor—someone who is counting on you to produce results—can spark in a mentee. Many young professionals start out in business with aspirations to work hard and achieve their goals, and some of them might even take steps towards realizing them. But nothing encourages a junior employee to put their best effort forward like the trust and confidence of a seasoned colleague.

Most of the skills learned in the first few years of a business career are designed to make employees effective team players with a strong understanding of the organization’s goals and procedures. Individuals are not necessarily encouraged to stand out among their peers or seek rapid advancement, and for most, this suits them fine. But an employee seeking mentorship is different; they want to learn, to excel, and to gain the skills they need to become leaders in their fields. Rather than blending in, they seek out challenge and responsibility, and the extra accountability gained through mentorship is exactly what they need to tap into their true potential.

We’ve talked about the many challenges of being a mentor and how it can be quite difficult to motivate mentees to stick to set goals and follow the mentorship plan. But if we know that mentees inherently want to excel in their careers, and may simply lack the guidance and motivation to do so, how can a mentor leverage the power of accountability to help them succeed? There are several ways, and most of them coincide with the essential elements in a successful mentorship.  

  • Set your expectations and stick to them: Before you can create accountability, you need to set clearly defined expectations for the mentorship. The mentee needs to know they should take the program, its goals, and the expected results seriously. Because they are still new in business, it’s important to create direction from the onset.
  • Have them list and explain specific goals: Ideally, the goals for the mentorship should be set by the mentee. It’s their career, after all, and encouraging them to set their own goals will create ownership and teach them to discern what is achievable from what is unrealistic. What’s more, by setting their own goals, they’ll create accountability for themselves in pursuing them.
  • Ask for regular updates on progress towards their goals: At this point, the mentee should know they are expected to make real progress toward their set goals. As you give them advice and help them take discernible steps in the right direction, request that the mentee report back on their accomplishments. In order to be effective, check-ins should be specific rather than general.
  • Believe in them: One of the strongest generators of motivation is knowing that someone is counting on you. An employee who’s begun to acknowledge the importance and benefits of a mentor will strive to work harder and will make efforts to deliver better results.

In conjunction with these four points, mentors should create accountability by always maintaining and demanding transparency in communication. Honesty is essential to the success of any mentorship program, and without trust, mentees will never be motivated to take responsibility for achieving their own goals and putting themselves to the task of making their mentor proud. 

As with most lessons in mentorship, teaching accountability to a mentee can be challenging. A mentee must truly believe in the goals they set for themselves and their ability to achieve them. But if they are lacking in confidence in the beginning, a mentor's faith in a mentee and trust in their abilities can give a them the motivation they need to get the work done. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation. 



Take Initiative: Finding a Mentor on Your Own

Formal mentoring programs are on the rise in both established organizations and startups. Even so, not all organizations have caught up with the trend, and it can still be difficult for many employees to identify and approach a senior colleague or business associate for mentorship.

If a mentor isn’t chosen for you, how do you go about identifying one who is a good fit? And if you are able to pick someone you’d like to work with, how do you go about asking him or her to be your mentor?

These are important questions to ask, even for organizations with established mentoring programs or digital mentoring opportunities. Employees should understand the qualities of a good mentor, how a mentor’s experience and skills are matched with their career goals, and how to conduct themselves when first requesting mentorship.

First things first: How do you identify the right mentor?

As with any search for talented resources, the first place to look is within your own organization. Think about the people you work with: Is there someone whose work you admire? Have you noticed anyone who is particularly fond of giving advice and sharing lessons they’ve learned? Is there a colleague whose role within the company resembles a position you’d eventually like to hold?

Answering these questions in respect to the colleagues and associates you are already familiar with can give you a good idea of who may be a good fit. In the process, you’ll gain a better understanding of what you want out of a mentorship, what personalities you work best with, and what your aspirations are. By the time you are ready to approach a colleague for mentorship, you’ll have a strong case to present for why you want them as your mentor.

Now for the real deal: How do you ask someone to be your mentor?

In a company with an established mentorship program in place, this part should be easy.  It’s either done for you through systematic mentor/mentee matching, or there are established vehicles for requesting mentorship from colleagues who have already elected to be mentors.

But what if none of that exists in your organization? The process can be a bit trickier. But that doesn’t mean it can’t (or shouldn’t) be done.

If a mentor candidate is someone you already work closely with, ask him or her to meet with you or schedule a lunch. Make sure you’ve prepared a good case when you propose working together as a mentor/mentee and be able to give them a clear idea of what your goals are for the mentorship. It’s possible—likely, even—that they’ve never mentored anyone before and may need a little help from you in understanding what you expect from them.

If you’ve identified someone who works within the company but not directly with you, then you can approach your manager and tell them you are interested in working with this person as a mentor. Ask your manager if they’ll organize a joint meeting with your candidate to introduce the idea of a mentorship and discuss particulars.

This approach gives your potential mentor an opportunity to ask questions of both you and your manager about your skill-set, goals for advancement, and availability for participating in a formal mentorship. It also brings your manger into the loop, showing them not only that you wish to enhance your skills and advance your career, but that you recognize and want to benefit from the talent existing within the company.

Mentoring has had overwhelming success within organizations, resulting in greater job satisfaction, higher compensation, stronger career commitment, a higher rate of promotion, and more overall career success. Don’t let the absence of a formal mentorship program stop you from engaging in what could be one of the most beneficial relationships of your professional and personal life.  

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation. 



Mentoring Talent: Developing Workforce Potential

At any given organization, the typical employee pool is made up of people with different levels of ability, varying degrees of motivation, and assorted work ethics. Finding individuals with superior potential can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But identifying these employees and fastracking them for success is essential to building an effective workforce motivated to see the company succeed.

Year after year, organizations spend copious amounts of money and resources searching for top talent. Employing the services of staffing and recruiting firms has become the norm. But what many company’s don’t realize is that the talent they are searching for likely already exists within the organization. They just need the right …to coax it out.  

By employing mentors, you take the recruiting away from third parties and bring it in-house. Instead of spending money searching for outside talent identified by others, you direct the investment where in counts: in developing your own employees and encouraging the hidden gems to shine.

How does having a mentor help?

With their years of experience working with all sorts of people with differing personalities and skill levels, mentors are uniquely equipped for the purpose of pinpointing high-potential employees and separating them from the crowd.

The goal of mentoring is to develop a mentee’s personal and professional life. A key step in the process is identifying areas of strength and unique skills in order to gauge the potential of individual mentees.

Many organizations are prone to reward and promote employees who shine amongst their peers, whether that’s through demonstrated leadership or performance that exceeds expectations. The problem is that there is no real means of positioning employees with the support and resources they need to shine, which means that internal advancements like these can be few and far between. 

There may be cases where exceptional employees are too afraid to stand out or unsure of how their particular areas of strength fit into the organization. Instead of striving for excellence, they choose to keep their heads down and do only what is asked of them. Their potential goes unnoticed and undeveloped, leading managers to seek outside the organization for talent.

This is where a mentor’s guidance is of the utmost importance. It can tap hidden potential and help mentees use that potential to advance their careers and the success of the company.

Isn't internal training enough?

One of the major benefits of a good mentoring program is that mentees are groomed to develop individual skill sets and simultaneously enhance their productivity. Mentoring therefore saves time and effort as compared to traditional training methods or training through manuals.

Mentors are individuals with years of hands-on experience in their respective fields. Their guidance is unique and targeted compared to that of a non-personalized training program. This makes mentoring far superior to theoretical training.

The result?

The relationships forged through mentoring encourages employees to invest time in themselves and helps them find the motivation to develop their potential and stand out among their peers. Mentees gain a solid idea of how their individual skills can be applied within the workplace, empowering them to make their best contributions where they are most needed.

As motivated employees are put to task, they perform better than their counterparts and become keen to scale up the ladder to success. Employees who realize their potential experience a happier state of mind and are glad to provide more input at work.

Motivation is key to employee engagement, and employees are most motivated when they are working within their true potential. Mentors help them reach that level through targeted guidance, skills development, and encouragement. Don’t waste the potential you have lurking within your workforce by seeking talent outside the company. Instead, employe mentors to find the needle in the haystack. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation. 



Mentoring As a Means of Innovation

Innovation and startups go hand-in-hand. The business of startups is to be on the cutting edge of the next big idea, to harness new technology, to think in new ways and offer new solutions to old problems. These ideas are at the heart of innovation, but innovation is not just about creating; it’s also about adapting—to the market, to the times, to the environment. This means that if you’ve been established for just six months or going on six years, your company can and should embrace the power of innovation.

Building a business that is open to new ideas and flexible to change isn’t an easy task. You have to constantly be on the lookout for creative strategies and methods to boost your businesses.

Mentoring—especially e-mentoring—is an obvious example of innovation in business, since it not only provides new techniques for transferring knowledge from old to new, but also continually improves the quality of the organization by empowering its employees and teaching them to adapt to change. 

Lets take a look at a few parameters for innovation in business:

  • Be open to new ideas and adaptive to change.
  • Implement innovation as a key part of the business plan.
  • Incorporate inspirational leadership and motivation to train and empower employees to think innovatively.
  • Incorporate both customer and employee feedback in the development and improvement of products, services, and business practices.
  • Seek advice from trusted advisors and experts.

Now let’s take a look at the ways in which e-mentoring fits the bill:

  • Facilitates the transfer of knowledge and expertise that might otherwise be lost.
  • Enhances employee productivity, job satisfaction, and advancement.
  • Harnesses technology to match expert with protégé, thus distributing guidance where it will be most effective.
  • Crosses the physical and geographical boundaries of traditional professional advisory to make mentoring accessible anytime, anywhere.
  • Leverages the expertise of many to optimize knowledge transfer.

Beyond the innovative qualities of e-mentoring itself, there are countless innovative ways to apply e-mentoring within your organization. From group mentoring to video conferencing to integration with traditional mentoring methods, the potential for e-mentoring to bolster your business and enhance your workforce is significant.

Whether you're an emerging startup or an established organization, start thinking about how you can incorporate e-mentoring into your business plan. You'll leverage the knowledge and expertise of your senior employees and empower the next generation of employees to apply the lessons they learn to changing environments and emerging technologies.  

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation. 



Motivation Through Mentorship: Retaining Talented Employees

It's valid to be concerned about increasing employee retention - in today's interconnected world, it's a common practice to jump from job to job, investing only a few years at most to one company before seeking something better. This is somewhat inevitable, but can be slowed with the establishment and maintenance of a robust mentorship program. There's no better time to start company-wide mentoring! Read more here.



Pay it Forward: Extending the Benefits of Mentorship

Like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamins, maintaining regularly communicative mentoring relationships is key to a healthy, happy lifestyle. Also like brushing, keeping these relationships going can sometimes be hard work, but we guarantee that they're worth it - when you look back on your successful career, you'll thank the mentors who helped you along the way! Read more here.



Honor Roll: Rewarding Your Mentors

Wondering how to best retain and engage top performers at your organization? Let them know that they're valuable, through a variety of verbal, symbolic, or monetary rewards, and encourage their talent further by recommending them as mentors to lower-ranked employees. Through positive reinforcement, you can catalyze your organization into a center for knowledge-sharing! Read more here.