Posted by Robert Half on 02 July 2014
Mentoring or workplace coaching is one of the best ways to help employees find continuous fulfilment and meaning in their work, particularly when it comes to engaging and retaining a multigenerational workforce where employees can include both Gen X (those born from 1965 to 1978) and Gen Y (those born from 1979 to 1999).
Introduce “reverse” mentoring
Some companies have started to embrace reverse mentoring instead of simply relying on the traditional model of senior staff imparting knowledge and skills to less experienced colleagues. These newer workplace mentoring models include junior employees taking the lead to mentor more experienced staff in addition to peer-to-peer mentoring methods.
Through these less traditional relationships, employees have been able to demonstrate how they can provide value to the business in ways beyond their basic job description – and regardless of their experience level.
Structuring arrangements for success
Although less traditional mentoring arrangements are gaining popularity, you may need to address some potential hurdles up-front – such as participants’ preconceived notions about who should be in the role of the “teacher” or “student” in the relationship.
Clearly explain what you would like both parties to gain and encourage them to avoid stereotyping based on age or experience. In addition, have the mentor and mentee agree on:
- What each would like to achieve through the process
- Where and how often they will meet or communicate
Finally, be sure to provide enough time for both parties to work together – and take an interest in the relationship’s progress.
Here are five tips for fostering a mentoring culture in your organisation:
- Understand that mentoring and coaching are part of every manager’s responsibility. It’s important to set a good example and to make time within your busy working day to communicate with your team.
- Set up informal cross-training or coaching sessions so employees of different generations can share their respective areas of expertise. Sometimes, the best ideas can come from a fresh graduate, a veteran with 20 years of industry experience or someone in between.
- Encourage mentoring in both directions, and not just from the top down. A Gen Y employee, for example, may volunteer to mentor a more senior colleague on using online collaboration tools or social media platforms in the workplace.
- Allow baby boomers to take on transitional roles, such as a consultant or trainer, before retirement so they can pass on their knowledge to less experienced employees.
- Identify your own mentoring and coaching style and encourage your team to do the same. Understanding how people approach career coaching can be useful in making sure you match people correctly and foster more effective collaborations.
A strong mentoring program can help create an inviting culture in which people are constantly sharing knowledge and generating ideas, and are mutually committed to building a successful company. And these will invariably help boost the employee-retention rate in your organisation.
Looking for a mentor yourself? Follow our tips for finding a mentor at work.