To improve participation and the positive effects of mentoring, you should develop a mentoring culture within your business. A culture of mentoring, collaboration and encouragement of continuous learning.
Mentoring has been proven as an impactful learning and development method, as well as to improve employee mental health, reduce isolation (especially while working from home), ease new employees into the workplace, and make people feel supported and encouraged. This is exactly why you should seek to create a mentoring culture, that normalises and solidifies mentoring in the workplace.
A mentoring culture is when an organisation successfully fosters the principles of learning, knowledge sharing, and personal development. It goes above and beyond the running of select mentoring programs, and instead is a foundational value of a company as a whole. A strong mentoring culture makes mentoring accessible to every employee, and encourages both formal and informal mentoring across the spectrum of business life.
While you may offer a number of mentoring programs, the benefits are often not felt outside of those specific groups, such as graduates, employees from BAME backgrounds, or new managers. The rest of your workforce could have no idea that mentoring is even on offer, or how to go about getting involved. This is a downside of running mentoring programs and a challenge organisations face when they are unable to scale mentoring initiatives.
A mentoring culture takes more time and investment to create than a mentoring program, which is why many organisations struggle to do so. If you've proven success with a few programs, and are looking to instil mentoring into your company culture, take a read of our tips below.
A mentoring culture isn't something you can build overnight. It will take time, effort, and support from a number of key people. Here are some of our top suggestions for creating something longer lasting than a few mentoring programs...
We know we say this all the time, but it's because it really is one of the most effective ways to impact company culture.
Behaviours filter down from the top, and so if the leaders in your organisation are advocating for mentoring, it won't be long until people start to take notice.
Understand who the key stakeholders are in your company and come up with some strategic ways of appealing to them. Whether its retention rates or employee happiness, make a business case for mentoring that will resonate best with your senior leaders.
Mentoring commonly exists in silos within organisations, limited to Learning & Development functions, or specific departments who have set up their own initiative. This lack of cohesion when it comes to how mentoring is conducted, or who can be involved, is a big reason for mentoring cultures being unsuccessful.
A way round this is to create guidelines for how mentoring is done within your business, so that if any team or group wants to start a program or find out more, all the information is consistent.
It will naturally help to already have senior leaders on board here, so they can promote mentoring across the business and make sure everyone knows that it's a company-wide initiative rather than departmental.
Similarly, it's important that mentoring is accessible to your workforce. If you have to reach out to 3 different members of staff, or get referred to the program through a convoluted process, it's never going to be something that's embedded in your company culture.
Having a go-to place to find out more about mentoring and easily sign up will increase participant numbers and make it a seamless process.
Using something like Guider, and having it embedded in your internal system, will mean people can find a mentor of their own accord without having to contact anyone.
A simple way to foster a mentoring culture is providing every new employee with a mentor. That way, from a person's first week within your company, they can see that personal development is a key value.
89% of mentees go on to be mentors, and so by including mentoring in your new hire onboarding, you're also investing in a future pool of mentors.
You can create a mentoring culture by encouraging small, spontaneous, moments of mentoring. This is where employees find opportunities to support each other, collaborate and give feedback.
Middle and upper management especially should look to create moments of positive reinforcement, seek opportunities to reach out to their teams, and encourage employees to reach out to them. It creates a more cohesive workplace where employees feel comfortable with speaking to employees on all levels, especially when seeking advice.
This is similar to having a culture of feedback, or the ethos that 'no question is a stupid question'. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage daily learning and personal growth, creating waves throughout the company.
Promoting independence of mentees can help create a mentoring culture, by encouraging their confidence and growth. For example, by managers suggesting mentoring as a way to improve, they will empower mentees to take responsibility for their development. This is true not only of traditional mentoring, but group or reverse mentoring as well.
With Guider, mentees take the initiative by contacting their chosen mentor first. By having a stake in their mentoring, mentees are more likely to enjoy and continue their mentoring programme. They’re also encouraged to take the lead through setting SMART goals, communicating what they need help with and also arranging meetings.
This confidence infects itself throughout the business, as mentees learn to communicate their ideas more often and more effectively in meetings, and talk to employees outside of their team, creating a more connected workplace.
The increase in working from home has taught a lot of companies the benefits of having a flexible workplace. Through the implementation of video chat, instant messaging, and virtual social or educational meetings, we’ve seen the value of having different avenues of communication for employees.
58% of employees have even reported an increase in productivity when working from home. This has been something many people with disabilities have pushed for in the workplace, to aid their participation.
By adding mentoring to your workplace inclusivity plan, you aid in creating a more accommodating and empathetic space that helps employees on all levels. Supporting virtual work options gives room for virtual mentoring, creating flexibility for busy employees, allowing international communication, and including disabled employees who struggle to get into the workplace.
Mentoring also helps to create more diverse leadership, supporting your goals for more women, BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled employees in senior positions. Using a mentoring software such as Guider helps to remove human biases when matching manually, and gives employees the freedom to select who they’d like to be mentored by. Creating a mentoring culture that supports your inclusivity goals connects the wider workplace on all levels and in turn, builds empathy across the business.
Finally, celebrating success is one of the best ways to create a mentoring culture. As mentioned earlier, a mentoring culture is one that encourages and supports continuous learning. When you celebrate success, you reinforce goals and positive habits; you inspire other employees, and encourage them to support each other.