Peers as mentors
Large companies use innovative methods to keep employees motivated in an economic environment where the path to the top is often believed to require hopping from firm to firm.
The issue with current management training practices is the overwhelming of subordinates with technical information rather than bringing out the best in people. In spite of the plethora of technical training available for employees or middle managers in most industries, they have to sink or swim more on their own.
The pace and volume of modern working methods makes traditional management and traditional leadership impossible. The gap is now being filled by peer mentors. The old familiar notion of ‘ management’ as oversight of work processes is outdated. Increasingly, people are both able and required to manage themselves.
Under this self-management, the role of a peer mentor becomes important. A peer mentor is a co- worker who volunteers to work with new people in the company to answer questions and streamline the transition as he or she becomes a part of the organization.
Available for guidance on the ins and outs of the work environment, answer questions about day to day activities or to just act as a friendly shoulder, a peer mentor can ease the transition for the new entrant.
Peer mentors also help with the supervision process in an organization. If, besides the supervisor, there is a third person to interact with a new hire, it takes the stress off the training staff. Just having someone to answer day- to- day questions like where forms can be found, where the vending machines are or the name of the assistant in the front office, can help reduce the overall supervisor’s workload. Working as a neutral third party, mentors are available to discuss minor issues with the new employee and point them in the correct direction if there are problems with the job before those challenges become larger issues for the organization.
Microsoft is one organization that attracts super talented candidates to it. To attract the kind of people it needed, the tech behemoth offered a new program that flipped the idea of mentoring on its head. Some 300 new employees were paired up with people at similar experience levels to serve as mentors to the new entrants.
Such connections help companies improve their relationship with employees. More innovatively, some companies are even doing reverse- generational mentoring by having younger, tech and social media- savvy employees mentor their older colleagues.
Thus, peer mentoring can be regarded as important for employee retention and engagement. Companies are developing programs that have peers in different divisions or locations mentor each other to provide fresh ideas about career paths, help employees develop new skills and keep them engaged with their colleagues and the company in general.