In this “On the Job” segment, Meg Ferraro, Vice President, Assistant General Counsel at ADP, discusses with Cheddar News the value and benefits of workplace mentorship programs.
An effective strategy for retaining and developing quality employees is to offer mentoring programs. These working relationships between employees and management help those involved realize their own goals and discover new ways to achieve them.
Speaking to Cheddar News, above, Meg Ferraro (MF), vice president, assistant general counsel at ADP, says one thing mentors and mentees shouldn’t do in this situation is stay silent.
Q: How has hybrid remote work changed the way people approach having or being a mentor?
MF: There are many things that can go into creating a great mentoring relationship. And I think in our new environment with hybrid and remote working, we have to keep in mind that mentorship becomes even more important to help employees develop and grow.
People have changed the way they work and where they work. Both employers and employees need insight and visibility into what employees are doing and what the business is doing. The employer can gain that insight by having those mentoring relationships and keeping the employee up to date with what’s going on within the company, and the employee can provide visibility into what they’re doing through those mentoring relationships. It’s also good practice because having visibility into what the employee is doing can help combat any proximity bias that might be at play when working remotely or in a hybrid model.
Q: What advice would you give to an employee looking for a mentor?
MF: I think the best thing they can do is make sure they set the frame. It’s up to the employee to be clear about what they’re looking for, set their goals, and make sure they share them with their mentor. The mentee must be responsible and accountable and know what they are looking for from the start of the relationship. And then the mentor needs to check in with the mentee from time to time to see what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and to make sure they’re meeting those goals – and also to ask them what they can do. differently to improve the relationship.
I also strongly recommend that individuals join Enterprise Resource Groups (BRGs). I am a leader of one BRG, and I am also a member of many others. These BRG communities can help build mentoring relationships that can then help employees engage and foster connections.
Q: What does a successful mentor-mentee relationship look like?
MF: There are many things, but when the mentor and the mentee learn, it is a success. And a good mentoring relationship also helps foster other relationships. Sometimes a mentoring relationship can then lead to a mentoring relationship, which we know we need even more as we progress in our careers. And so, once you go through a mentoring relationship, the key is to mentor those relationships and hope that they will grow so that you can then turn them into a mentoring relationship.
Q: We’ve talked about what mentees need to do when looking for a mentor, but what steps can leaders take to foster those mentor relationships?
MF: I think that’s really something that we all have to be responsible for as leaders. I would say, going back to the subject of the BRGs – get involved, make yourself visible. Let people know that you want and expect these types of relationships. Be willing to collaborate, partner, and grow with your mentee, then seek understanding, so once you enter this relationship, know that you are there to listen. And then, once you’ve listened, be prepared to share your experiences that relate to what the mentee is doing.
Q: What are the main benefits of having a mentor, not only for the employee, but also for the mentor themselves?
MF: I think there is a lot for the mentee, the mentor and for the company. From the perspective of mentees, they can gain visibility, they can get more opportunities, promotions and skill development. For the mentor, it’s about building those relationships and helping others grow. Then the company will see not only for the mentee, but also for the mentor, greater engagement and retention, and this can also help identify great talent.
Q: What should mentees – and even mentors – do? not to do in this situation?
MF: I think the key is not to stay silent. Don’t assume that just because the mentor leaves it up to you doesn’t mean you don’t have much to do. I said earlier, you have to own this relationship. You need to set the tone and purpose of the relationship and ensure there is open communication. And then the mentor needs to be open and willing to share information about where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and how that may relate to what the mentee is doing.
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