• Westwood International

Remote Mentoring

Mentoring programs are a proven method to get the most out of your employees. These programs tend to bridge the gap between salary and purpose, helping team members find meaning in their day-to-day responsibilities. According to an article published by Forbes, mentoring programs are a win for all. They note:

  • Employees who participated in the [mentoring] program were five times more likely to advance in pay grade, and mentors made even more progress.

  • Mentees were promoted five times more than those not in the program, and mentors six times more.

  • Retention rates were significantly higher for mentees (72%) and for mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate (49%).

Now more than ever, mentoring plays a crucial role in keeping teams connected and productive in the COVID age. Keep reading for our thoughts on how to mentor a remote or hybrid workforce.

Mentor, Not Manage

There is a distinct difference between being a manager and being a mentor. A manager typically focuses on helping their team members complete goals and objectives centered around the department or division. Keeping their employees focused and on task is in their job description. Mentors, on the other hand, focus on helping their mentees grow professionally. Goals are centered around the mentee’s career. Company objectives typically take a back seat to the mentee’s long-term aspirations. This is important to remember as we embark on mentoring in a post-COVID world.

Key to Strengthening Personal Relationships

People are looking for personal bonds and stability after facing the challenges of the pandemic these last two years. Mentoring can provide that bond and help employees succeed in the workplace and at home. The key to strengthening the mentor-mentee relationship is to keep the focus on the mentee’s aspirations, daily stressors, and life ambitions. This relationship doesn’t need to tie back to departmental objectives. Helping a mentee through a challenging relationship at home can pay dividends to both the mentee and the mentor. As a mentor, focus on listening rather than fixing. Your past experiences, recent and distant, are invaluable to the relationship you’re forging with your mentee.

Here are a few tips to virtually manage your mentor-mentee relationship:

Draft a Mentoring Agreement

This might sound a little cheesy, but it will help set expectations in this evolving COVID-19 climate. Things that worked before the pandemic won’t necessarily work now for both the mentor and the mentee. Reestablish availability and preferred means of communication. A mentor might have been readily available before COVID-19 forced them to work from home, where familial duties are now priority number one. Being transparent and forthright will help forge a healthy connection between mentor and mentee. The agreement also gives both parties a record to refer to if priorities shift out of focus.

Consider Six and Nine Month Goals

Usually, we think about long-term goals when it comes to mentorship, but the pandemic keeps changing the work-life balance. Take smaller steps toward life goals by setting near-sighted objectives that COVID-19 won’t influence.

Meet In Person If Possible

This can be tricky depending on where you live and whether or not your company adopted a hybrid workplace. Try to meet in person to reestablish your connection. A local coffee shop, a rented co-working space, a park bench… anything to give you that face time we’ve all been lacking. You can use this face-to-face opportunity to reestablish your mentor relationship, review your agreement mentioned above, and connect in a way that is challenging over Zoom.

Break Down Formality

If in-person isn’t going to happen, then consider breaking down the formality of your video meetings. Remember that mentors and mentees have been managing their day-to-day, often in virtual team meetings, where they have been focused and on edge. Relax the dress code and excuse interruptions from family members and household pets. Create a safe space where you both can connect outside of the formalities expected in your normal position.

Focus on What’s Important

Remember how stressful COVID has been for most people and focus on what’s important. Promotion anxiety likely took a back seat to Zoom fatigue. As you reprioritize your mentee’s goals, think about what can help in the near future before getting back to the big picture goals you would typically focus on. What can you both do to get motivation and productivity back on track? What assistance is needed for your mentee to find balance?

And if you aren’t currently in a mentor role? We encourage you to seek a mentee and help provide them with the guidance and support you might’ve missed earlier in your career!

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