Benefits of a mentor scheme in your small business

With the business world more competitive than ever, managers can be forgiven for focusing on “productive time” - after all, it’s only when your employees are performing their actual roles that they’re making your business money. But we are also becoming increasingly aware of those activities outside of core business activities that can contribute to both employee engagement and productivity, thus ensuring you get more out of every hour they are performing their assigned roles.

Part of the reason it’s not always easy to find the right balance is that plenty of the things you can do as a small business manager - checking in regularly with employees, setting goals, tracking various metrics - take away from your own valuable time. This is, of course, where delegation comes in. Mentoring in any form, from first day “buddies” to long-term coaching relationships, lessens some of the managerial burden while having its own host of benefits.

Having previously mentioned is as an easy and affordable way to train your staff, here, we look at why mentoring can be a great thing to implement in your small business, and in our next post will look at how you can go about doing so.

Mentors give your employees more coaching

Two of the biggest challenges for small business are employee retention and performance. Management has a huge part to play in these, with managerial relations accounting for up to 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Coupled with that is the transformation in roles of management, from “bosses” to “coaches”. Employees want development, feedback, and purpose - coaches can provide these without potentially being seen as intimidating or distant.

Luckily, coaching is a job that can be shared around. By assigning new or junior employees a more experienced or senior colleague to act as a mentor, you give them another avenue from which to receive feedback and improve their performance, keeping them engaged. Such an arrangement can fulfill various employee needs, such as receiving encouragement for development, recognition of good work, or opportunities to learn.

Mentoring allows other employees to develop their own management skills

It’s crucial that businesses develop future leaders, both to act as cover and for succession planning. But you may not necessarily want to throw unproven wannabe managers in at the deep end of running your business’s day to day activities. Instead, assigning them as a mentor to another employee allows for a lower pressure environment—one with significantly less immediate risk to business operations—to hone their soft skills. Remember there are lots of advantages for spotting and nurturing management potential in your employees.

Buddies can speed up on-boarding

A key managerial concern for any new starter is getting them up and running as quickly as possible. Of course, this doesn’t mean chaining them to their desk on day one, but rather making sure they’re comfortable in their new role and can quickly learn the ropes. Assigning a buddy can be a big part of creating a successful employee onboarding programme, as it gives the new starter another person they can recognise, socialise with, and turn to early on. Having another “point of reference” for their first few days at work will help employees get their bearings much more quickly.

Having this friendly face perceived as a colleague rather than a manager can have a big effect as well, so that your new employee doesn’t feel they’re wasting management’s time with too many questions. The buddy can be a good port of call for office logistic questions like transport, where to grab lunch etc.

Someone in the same role, or at least in a more similar role than you as the manager, may also be better placed to help with knowledge sharing, skill transfer, and training for the new employee’s position.

Mentoring saves managers time

Finally, it’s impossible to overlook that the more your employees can help each other, the less time you need to spend doing the same thing. And while there needs to be a balance between time spent mentoring and getting on with their jobs, the time you’ve saved can be spent on further improving your business’s performance at the larger scale.

Having outlined their benefits, next time we will look at how you can implement a mentoring scheme, from setting up buddies for new employees through to making regular advice and knowledge-sharing sessions available to all.

Now you can read our tips for how to set up a mentoring scheme in your small business.

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.