As an intern or employee mentor, you play an integral part to serve as a sounding board, an internal resource, help a colleague successfully acclimate to the company, and can inspire growth in his or her career.
The fact that you’re looking for ideas on how to be a great employee mentor means that you probably are the perfect person to continue to a mentoring program at work. It means you care about being a positive, effective influence. That sentiment goes a long way towards building a strong relationship with your colleagues, as well.
Here are our top suggestions for how to help you be a great employee mentor. But first…Dilbert:
Before The Employee Mentor Session Begins
Regardless of when you begin mentoring someone (someone’s first day or it’s a new program!), take the time to have a clear set of expectations before you begin your mentoring session and to learn a little bit about the employee ahead of time.
- Meet with HR or the hiring manager to clearly define your role, and schedule a date to have lunch with the employee during his/her first week
- If appropriate, call or email the employee. (Get contact information from HR or hiring manager)
- Learn about the employee; get his/her resume or background from HR or hiring manager; Google him/her; check LinkedIn, etc.
Goals For The Employee’s First Day
If the mentoring program starts during the employee’s first day, you can take a proactive approach to introduce yourself and begin to build an early rapport.
- Stop by the employee’s office to introduce yourself (or call/email if your physical locations are different)
- Confirm plans to meet with the employee later that week
- Give him/her your business card (or contact information)
Even if the employee isn’t new, you can still introduce yourself in person (location-permitting) or electronically (email/text) before an official meeting has been established.
Goals During The First Week of Being An Employee Mentor
In your first mentoring meeting, focus first on getting to know one another. You may want to take the employee to an informal lunch if you are in the same location or town, or even do a video conference if proximity is an issue.
- Learn about the employee’s professional background and interests – what are they looking forward to in their job; how did they begin working in this career
- Share information about yourself – how long you’ve been at the company; what it was like when you first started; your role, interests, and hobbies
If the employee is new to the organization and is in the same location, you can also:
- Show the employee around the working area and make introductions to your team
- Explain how to order equipment and supplies
- Take a walking tour of the company
Monthly Goals for AN Employee Mentor
After your first meeting, you will want to work to establish a regular cadence to meet with your mentee. Plan ahead by scheduling meetings for the next several months – meet over coffee in person or virtually! Make sure you’re in a setting where you can pay attention as you get to know each other and establish a line of trust.
- Check-in with the employee in between regularly scheduled meetings to see how things are going and if he/she has any questions
- Share online articles or training programs of interest / relevance
- Continue introducing the employee to others
- Invite the employee to relevant business or social events
Helpful Tips TO Establish a Professional Mentor / Mentee Relationship
Don’t worry about being perceived as the “expert” or think you need to have all the answers; your experience at the company is what’s most important to the employee.
- Listen first – In some situations, listening is more valuable than giving advice; ask questions like “What do you need?” or “How can I help?”
- Be observant – we all have a preferred communication style; talk about each other’s preferences if you are struggling to connect with him or her; the employee you are mentoring may have a different communication style from yours
- Be consistent – if you commit to something, set realistic schedules and be considerate in how you deliver
- Be positive and supportive – try to talk constructively instead of perpetuating negativity
- Take your time – it’s not realistic to try or expect to cover everything over a short period of time
It takes time to develop a relationship; time is the most precious gift we can give to someone. The fact that you are interested in becoming a mentor or are already embarking on this journey means that you have a selfless, supportive attitude that is worthy of being recognized. Well-done.
If you continue to maintain confidentiality, stay open-minded, and positive, you will no doubt become a trusted mentor to your colleague. Remember that we all need “someone” to talk to – and in this case, that’s you! You are making a difference in someone else’s life and career and in turn, you are growing and learning about yourself and your own capabilities, as well!