Tips for Modern Mentoring in the Workplace
We’ve talked about it: challenging the traditional one-size-fits-all type of mentoring. We see the value and need within organizations for this modern and ground-breaking approach to social learning and collaboration. “Modern mentoring” sounds right.
We’ve touched lightly on what modern mentoring is as a theory, practice, and the multitude of benefits an organization reaps by leveraging this form of learning within an organization. Now we’re left with the “how”: How do we create this modern mentoring culture within our organizations?
The answer to that is with a well thought-out strategy. In his book Modern Mentoring, author Randy Emelo shares a candid story on his experience in presenting the modern mentoring approach to business leaders, and the challenges he faced. This learning lesson he encountered evolved into the how. They are the foundational strategic steps one must partake in to create a modern mentoring culture within an organization.
We always take for granted the need for stakeholder buy-in on any change within an organization, be it a new product launch, systematic process change, organizational structure change, etc. It is key to expose stakeholders to the approach first. However, simply defining modern mentoring will not suffice. You will need to be prepared to walk stakeholders through the concept, why it is a beneficial learning tool, and the successful outcomes the organization can expect to encounter. This is the time where the transformation from traditional to innovative begins. Emelo refers to this stage as the “re-education effort that will help to eliminate barriers to success.”
Avoid Traditional Mentoring Jargon
This tip is essential. Removing terms like mentor and mentee will help eliminate those barriers as you try to expose stakeholders to the concept of modern mentoring. In fact, Emelo suggests removing them from the language altogether. Using terms like learner and advisor remove the preconceived definitions that mentor and mentee have, and thus allows for the flow of a new concept to be introduced and widely accepted.
Wrap Modern Mentoring Around Formal Programs
Don’t reinvent the wheel too much. Rather, latching the concept of modern mentoring to existing formal programs like onboarding is an excellent way to keep the learning momentum going. For example, creating communities of practice for new hires to continue to expand their own personal learning networks will help new hires connect with those individuals who can advise them on the organizational culture. Or new leaders seeking to connect with others and learn best practices can leverage this learning opportunity. This can be achieved by using the current and existing technology available in most organizations (e.g., intranet, social business networks).
Seed the Learning Environment
Recruit people who want to advise and keep the learning momentum going. We can help to foster this environment by being active facilitators of learning. Create special interest and focus groups on those most common and popular topics. For example, if your organization utilizes Salesforce, you can help plant the seed by finding those experts (advisors) that want to facilitate discussions based on best practices of this cloud-based application. Or if you have project managers that utilize Six Sigma, you can find experts on the topic to help novice users. Think about the needs and uses of your organization, and latch modern mentoring to fit the needs of the learners.
These ideas can help get you started with building your modern mentoring culture at your organization.
Editor’s Note: A version of this blog entry first appeared on Adriane Gonzalez’s blog about Modern Mentoring. It has been reprinted here with permission from the author.