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Mentoring schemes and their benefits in the workplace

By recruitment expert and AMR Regional Director Alexis Mead

Mentoring can be particularly beneficial in the workplace, particularly for younger employees who are ‘learning the ropes.’ Many large corporate companies offer mentoring schemes as standard practice, but these can also be taken on board by SMEs to benefit the wider workforce.
A mentor helps to answer questions and offer guidance, establish short and long-term career goals and set objectives. They can also set challenges for the mentee to work towards achieving, as well as being a gateway to other people within the company and sources of knowledge. The overall idea of the mentor is to help the mentee to develop their skills, in order to be of more benefit to the company, as well as for personal career progression.
The mentor should give advice and support to the mentee, whilst encouraging them to make their own decisions. Therefore, it is important that the mentor is dedicated to the scheme and has an overall aim of wanting to help and support a junior member of staff to progress.
A mentor should:
Be a good listener and communicator
Willing to help others
Offer knowledge in the mentee’s area of work, and is able to draw from their own experience
Dedicated to helping the mentee through giving time and energy
Be confident at challenging statements made by the mentee
Encourage the mentee to be responsible for their own actions and take charge
Be confidential and discreet
A mentee should:
Take responsibility for managing meetings between the mentor, as well as developing the relationship
Treat information that is exchanged as confidential
Think of appropriate areas in which the mentor can assist in developing the mentee’s skills
Listen to the mentor and take on board the suggestions they make
Be respectful of the mentor
In an estate agent environment for example, a junior member of staff such as a lettings negotiator could be partnered with a mentor in a senior negotiator role. Some of the activities that could be undertaken as part of the mentoring scheme could be for the junior negotiator to shadow their senior colleague for a day every few months, as well as hosting monthly ‘objective’ meetings in which the mentor discusses the mentee’s progress.
It is of course important to note the difference between a mentor-mentee relationship and that between an employee and their line manager. Whereas a manager will focus on helping the employee to achieve the objectives of the company, conducts performance reviews and decides on possible salary increases and promotions, a mentoring relationship is more personal. For example, the mentor helps the mentee to develop professionally, but isn’t able to input on salary reviews or promotions. This helps to create a more relaxed and informal environment where the mentee is able to discuss issues openly.
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