[Excerpt from The Culture Question]
One often-overlooked strategy for creating a culture where people like to work is to consciously and consistently develop employees through mentorship. Investing in staff in this way creates opportunities for meaningful relationships, shows employees that they are valued, and allows them to develop their abilities, which will ultimately help the organization.
A mentoring culture may include formal structures with set times allocated for mentorship. Some organizations use a curriculum or program as part of the learning process. In other organizations, mentoring may take on a less formal structure in which each employee is paired with a more seasoned or knowledgeable coworker who becomes their mentor.
Some organizations make the mistake of only selecting the highest performing employees for mentorship. In our view, this creates the potential for division among employees and may demotivate those who are not chosen. Instead of focusing only on the “top” performers at ACHIEVE, we take the view that everyone should be developed, and most will excel where they have aptitude when they are given the proper support.
Mentorship-oriented leaders get more effort out of their employees by spending time with them, thinking about them, and caring for them.
One of the key requirements of successful mentoring is availability. Leaders must be available if they are going to help employees succeed. I, Randy, remember going to my manager’s office as a young worker to ask for a suggestion on a project only to be met with a “death stare” that asked, “What would possess you to interrupt me?” In that organization, I had seen firsthand how leaders would become upset when employees didn’t develop as quickly as desired, yet the leaders were not even willing to make themselves available.
Mentorship-oriented leaders get more effort out of their employees by spending time with them, thinking about them, and caring for them. Mentoring others is about building relationships, and relationships require time. When we spend time mentoring others, it demonstrates to them that we believe in their abilities and, more importantly, that we believe in them as people.
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