One factor is more important than any other in the success or failure of a startup startup: the skills of the team. But it’s impossible to expect your employees to join in all the skills they’ll need along their journey.
That’s why we make sure that each of our 11 employees has a mentor. On top of that, we are prepared to pay for mentors if needed. The insights, guidance and support these mentors provide to our employees help us make better decisions as a business and help our employees develop as the demands of their roles evolve. Surveys have shown that companies with mentorship increased their revenues by 83% compared to a growth of 16% for companies without mentorship.
It costs us around 5% of our total budget, but every penny is worth it.
Big companies are where people thrive
Although there are excellent examples in Europe of people proactive mentorship seeking On their own, it is still very rare for startup employees to have direct support from their employers to find mentors, even in early stage companies. Our belief is that every employee of a startup should expect founders or their managers to give them access to mentorship.
Being a good manager is understanding where they are headed in life – and how you can play a role in getting them there.
Any founder should understand that employees are not co-founders of the company. They come to the team with their own mission and their own professional and personal development goals that reflect their individual interests. Being a good manager is about understanding where they are headed in life – they won’t work for you forever – and how you can play a role in getting them there. Providing them with mentors is a key part of this.
Everyone at Monite is encouraged to have two to three mentors outside the company to complement the internal mentoring. Employees may have short-term mentors they meet for one or two meetings on a specific issue, or others they meet regularly over a longer period.
Some of the mentors come from our network and others from mentoring platforms like MentorPass, GrowthMentor or The mentoring club.
Some mentors are happy to provide their time and advice for free and some, especially platform ones, ask for compensation. We are always happy to cover all expenses so that our employees receive timely help and advice. Ongoing engagement generally works much better when there is compensation, simply because it creates a framework for engagement and shows the mentor their time is valuable and valued. Mentors can also often volunteer time more frequently if they are paid.
Our main goal is to help our employees fill the knowledge gaps that arise naturally in their daily work.
Our main goal is to help our employees fill the knowledge gaps that arise naturally in their daily work. It’s impossible to expect every employee to know how to do everything.
A good example: Once, we were behind in hiring and there were three or four people missing from the development team. Our product manager, Stephan Weber, fresh on board, had to decide whether or not to hire third-party software development agencies – and had no previous experience of doing so. We found him three senior mentors in a few days who helped him decide to speed up the hiring process and shorten the onboarding time instead of paying € 50,000 for an agency.
Mentoring is also for executives
But mentoring shouldn’t be just for your core employee. No founder or manager is perfect. There is always something to be improved upon, so it is extremely important to invest enough in leadership coaching from day zero. Yes, day zero, not day one.
We’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in executive coach, Sue from Silicon Valley, who advises executives at Twitter, Facebook and other businesses. It took us three months to find it and it was the best investment we have made since the creation of Monite. She helped us improve our management, founders alignment and communication, which had a positive impact across the company.
When the team struggled to give direct feedback and frustrations built up internally, Sue suggested that we hold a feedback workshop, hold more one-on-one meetings, and encourage people to provide feedback. direct when they came to us with pent-up frustration about things big and small. It purified the air and prompted team members to give their opinion instead of bottling things inside.
Mentors help build a healthy culture
Having mentors also helps create a healthier work environment in general. An environment where people can make mistakes, raise concerns, or honestly say, “Hey, I have no idea how to handle this.”
Having a mentor gives employees an outlet to ask these (sometimes) embarrassing questions.
Employees can practice sensitive topics and get advice before taking action or pitching their idea to the whole team. It helps orient the culture of the company towards one that embraces what you don’t know, instead of pretending to do it and struggle.
We plan to expand the mentoring program and get more general coaches for employees to help them grow outside of their day-to-day responsibilities. Yes, it will be expensive, but it will be the key to our success.
No founder should think twice about spending money on employee development, especially mentors.
Ivan Maryasin is CEO and co-founder of the Monite financial management platform.