Peers as men­tors

Enterprise - - Contents -

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.

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