Employee Mentoring and Your Small Business

Employee Mentoring and Your Small Business
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    Your small business may not have the resources to provide new employees with two-week paid training outside of the workplace, but you may have an available tool that can be just as effective: employee mentoring.


An employee mentoring program pairs a more senior employee with a new hire, to shepherd this individual through the job process. Mentoring can lead to better performance, reducing the learning curve and turnover as well.


Not every employee requires direct mentoring. Some employees may need assistance when special projects are undertaken, thus situational mentoring would apply only as long as the project is in effect or until the individual being mentored is brought up to speed.

Formal mentoring means that a junior employee will be assigned to a senior employee, while nurturing mentoring means that several employees will have a hand in assisting the new hire.

Listening and Learning

Mentoring means leading by example, but those examples can vary from job to job. For instance, the individual learning how to work with equipment might observe the mentor as she accomplishes the task before trying it himself. The mentor would also explain each step of the process as the work is being performed, showing and speaking to encourage listening and learning by the mentee.

More complex assignments may require a different approach. For instance, if the mentee is required to learn a new software program, the trainer might have two computers working in sync to shadow the new person’s progress. The trainer could perform a step and then have the mentee repeat it or handle the next step. Evaluation and feedback occur in real time.

One way for a mentee to learn something is for the mentor to make a point and have the mentee restate it in his own words. That way, the mentor can listen to determine if the message got across regardless of the words used to describe it. Neurological studies have demonstrated that oral repetition leads to improved retention.

Improved Morale

Mentoring can improve employee morale with both the mentor and the mentee benefiting. The mentor learns important lessons and has someone to oversee his work. Feedback is either immediate or faster, resulting in less frustration and an improved outcome. Employee retention improves and costly turnover can be avoided.

The benefits for the mentor may not be as obvious, but it can include special consideration for future assignments and promotions. Mentoring can make it possible for the mentor to be groomed for a supervisory position, with the time spent with junior employees advancing that prospect.

Employee Intervention

While new employees can benefit from mentoring, low-performing employees can be assisted as well. Mentoring may help lagging performers to improve and develop their skills enabling them to take on new projects including those that match their interests. This step can remedy worker performance and keep a salvageable employee from leaving either through termination or quitting.

Small Business Considerations

A formal mentoring program offers clear guidelines on how new employees will receive instruction. Not every senior employee is a suitable mentor and those that are should be recognized and rewarded accordingly.

See AlsoInterviewing Tips For Screening Job Applicants


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Categories: Small Business

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".