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The Advantages of Mentoring in the Workplace

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  • 0:03 Mentoring vs. Training
  • 1:08 Types of Mentoring in…
  • 2:05 Employee/Mentee Advantages
  • 3:38 Employer Advantages
  • 4:50 Mentor Benefits
  • 5:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amber Dixon

Amber works with graduate students enrolled in a virtual program and has a Master's of Social Work degree.

This lesson will discuss the advantages of establishing mentoring programs for employees and will review several types of mentoring. We will review in detail the advantages that mentors, employers, and the professional field experience as a result of strong mentoring in the workplace.

Mentoring vs. Training

Did you know that mentoring is not the same as providing training to employees? Mentoring is when an individual, usually a seasoned professional with more experience, assists and coaches another individual to improve in a given professional field. In contrast, training usually addresses instructional feedback to be consistent with internal policies and procedures when fulfilling job responsibilities. Sometimes training and mentoring are blended together, but for the purposes of this discussion, we will deal with them separately.

A mentor is someone who is willing to exchange information and expertise with another individual to influence and develop their skills. A mentee is an individual who is guided, coached, or counseled by a mentor. A few common mentoring models include formal mentoring and peer mentoring. Having knowledge of different types of mentoring will help companies identify quality mentoring opportunities that are good fits for employees and mentors.

Types of Mentoring in the Workplace

Formal mentoring involves a program that matches mentors and employees. This type of mentoring usually involves specific goals such improving customer services skills, increasing accuracy with work, or reducing specific mistakes. Employers might consider establishing written contracts between mentor and employee to outline desired goals to be met, and there is typically an established schedule of meetings or mentoring activities.

Peer mentoring is with individuals who are not seasoned professionals, but who do have advanced knowledge in specific areas that peers could benefit from. In many ways, the mentor is at the same skill level as the individual being mentored, and the peer might be someone in a position that is closely related to the other individual. The peer mentor would be offering support, empathy, and advice to the participant on a much more personable and relatable level compared to formal mentoring.

Employee/Mentee Advantages

Mentoring programs bring many advantages to all involved, including new perspectives for both employers and employees. Some specific advantages that can be gained through workplace mentoring include:

  • Coaching and counseling delivered by coworkers other than high-up supervisors
  • Additional success on the job through mentoring conversations and education
  • Shaping and developing the professional functioning of an individual in the workplace environment
  • Offering insight, knowledge, and opportunities to the person being mentored as well as the one doing the mentoring
  • Increased productivity from staff thanks to higher knowledge and greater sense of community
  • New perspectives and motivations for work performed with understanding of its importance

Let's consider an employee named Brooke. She decided to participate in a mentoring program with her accounting firm where she worked after feeling disinterested in her current job and after contemplating resigning. She was surprised to learn that most of the interactions with her mentor would be off-site for casual sit-downs like coffee and lunch. The conversations were usually about recently completed projects that Brooke completed and discussing whether she was taking time to have a healthy balance between work, family, and college classes.

Brooke received advice from her mentor about ways to ask her boss for more challenging work that would keep her interested in projects and engaged in the job. After each session, Brooke found herself looking forward to additional work assignments so she could have more to share with her mentor, and especially looked forward to celebrating her accomplishments together.

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