Mentors can be the key to a successful career. Yet Pinnacol’s recent research into Colorado workers’ attitudes, needs and aspirations uncovered that a whopping 70 percent of Colorado workers don't have a mentor. And less than half say their supervisor helps them manage their careers.
As Colorado’s job market remains tight, employers know the importance of taking advantage of any opportunity to attract and retain top talent, and developing the skills of those we employ. Yet while employees are clamoring for career guidance, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day for those of us in leadership positions to provide it.
Mentoring arrangements, though, don’t have to center around regularly scheduled meetings or significant time commitments. More casual approaches can yield big benefits for your employees – and, by extension, your company.
1. Invite your team member to a professional function
Chamber of Commerce events, EDC presentations and industry association meetings are all ideal opportunities to invite a junior-level colleague to join you. They'll build their own networks and develop an understanding of the issues your industry is wrestling with.
2. Focus on what they need most
It's easy to picture mentoring as an amorphous commitment that entails you devoting yourself to answering “Big Questions" and offering input on your mentee’s latest dilemmas. But it can be just as effective to focus on just one key area where they struggle. Schedule an initial session to set a very specific goal, and then focus future meetings on that one area. Stay in touch when you don't have time for even an informal meeting by setting a Google Alert for the topic, like “effective presentations," and send related articles when they pop up. Your mentee will appreciate that you are thinking about them, and you can offer a quick touch-base with minimal effort.
3. Combine mentorship with exercise
We live in Colorado, after all. Most of us love to get out in the great outdoors and enjoy nature's playground. Replace a sit-down mentoring session with a “sweatworking" activity. While you're walking, hiking or riding the chairlift together, you can share some of your own career tales and talk through issues they might be having with anything from job skills to client relationships.
4. Teach by example
Does your employee want to polish their meeting management skills? Invite them to sit in on your next client meeting and point out skills you've honed, such as engaging every attendee at the table or politely overcoming rejections. Recommend they take notes while they observe, then circle back to see what they learned and address any lingering questions. Do they want to hone their strategic planning acumen? Widen the net for your next strategy exercise to include people outside your executive team, and enable those other employees to engage fully in the work. We do this regularly at Pinnacol, and it’s added immeasurably to the quality of the insights and resulting plans.
When you run a business, your team is one of your most important assets, and nurturing those relationships is key to building a high-performing team. You can enhance employee allegiance and business results with this type of low-key mentoring.