Why Mentoring Matters

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Mentor

noun

  • A trusted counselor or guide

A mentoring relationship can be very effective for those who need guidance climbing the ranks in corporate America. Many effective mentoring relationships provide an opportunity for both parties to learn from each other through the development of a professional relationship. There are employees who have potential yet lack certain knowledge or skills to advance. A mentor should be chosen on the basis of someone who can guide your career development and is committed to the company’s goals. Therefore, a more experienced executive who has conquered obstacles is an important characteristic of mentorship. Some companies have formal mentoring programs that pair a young employee with a more experienced worker where specific objectives are set.  

 An employee can benefit from a mentor in the following ways:

  • Develop specific skills and knowledge relevant to professional goals
  • Expand leadership abilities
  • Gain professional advice

Mentors can enjoy the benefits of helping as well by learning more about other areas within the organization as well as gaining satisfaction in sharing their knowledge with others.

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Process Improvement or People Improvement?

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Standard processes are an essential requirement for any company seeking to continuously improve. All continuous improvement methods influence learning to achieve better results from business efforts. According to Merriam Webster, a process is defined as a “series of actions or operations conducing to an end.” Processes should be written and used to guide consistency in daily operations.  Organizations frequently spend excessive time in meetings towards the goal of process improvement when it’s the actual employees who need improvement. Although processes are vital to an organization’s growth, they serve no purpose if employees aren’t following them.  If your organization has employees who aren’t following process and rather do things their own way, it’s time to take stock and evaluate your workforce. There needs to be a decision on whether these employees are contributing or taking away from your company’s mission. I recently read about Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who fires employees who don’t fit into the company culture. If more companies followed this principle, they would start to see increases in productivity, customers and profits.

Employee onboarding: A necessary process

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According to a survey by International Data Corporation, U.S. and U.K. employees cost businesses an estimated $37 billion every year because they do not fully understand their jobs. This is why effective onboarding is vital in helping workers understand their roles and the company they work for, significantly cutting these losses. Successful employee onboarding has a positive effect on organizations such as making employee feel welcome and prepared giving them the confidence and resources to make a contribution within the organization and allowing the company to reach its goals. However, formal employee orientations have become obsolete in today’s organizations.  The last few positions I’ve held, there was no formal training or orientation covering the company or position. I’ve had to jump in and learn the ropes solo. How could I as an employee contribute to a company I knew nothing about. Onboarding is a great way for new employees to learn about the company, it’s mission, values, and processes in order to contribute as a good employee. This is when employees develop knowledge and skills and are equipped to perform their job duties. Nonetheless, the process can seem overwhelming for managers and employees, however the benefits are seen in the areas of employee engagement and process improvement. Overall, employee onboarding is a critical process in both individual and organizational development and establishes a foundation for future success. How is your company’s onboarding process?

 

Top Leadership traits

Being a leader requires more than having a vision and leading people. It involves being able to connect emotionally with others. When I think of the top bosses I’ve had, they all had several traits in common that fell more on the humanistic side. I call it the 3 E’s of leadership:

  • Engagement
  • Empathy
  • Encouragement

My top bosses were able to engage with their employees by fostering an environment of open communication and possessing great listening skills. If an employee had an issue, there was freedom of opinion without fear of retribution. Another trait they possessed was empathy, which involved genuine concern for employees’ needs. Let’s face it; every employee has a personal and professional life. Therefore, if an employee’s personal issues started affecting their job responsibilities, the manager showed compassion. For example, an employee was allowed personal days off and necessary coverage was provided by other team members. Lastly, these bosses always encouraged employees in reaching goals, whether it was a personal achievement or team achievement. They encouraged continuing education as well as advancement opportunities within the organization.

 ImageIn short, being a great leader goes above trying to reach a financial quota and/or company goals, it’s about having a sincere connection with your employees. When this is mastered, you’ll be forever remembered in those employees’ minds. Above all, effective leadership goes a long way in employee engagement and productivity. This is the backbone of an organization’s bottom line towards customer satisfaction and growth.

Effectiveness of employee surveys

Employee surveys are utilized as a communication tool to provide insight and understanding on the strengths and weaknesses of an organization. The most frequently used employee satisfaction and engagement surveys are measured to see how employees view the business. Some companies do yearly surveys, while others do them after restructuring takes place.

 How can employers be certain that the results are accurate, complete and practical? Often times, employers end up with results that can be slightly misleading due to poor planning, design and people who aren’t equipped with the knowledge or skills to create them.  But how well do surveys actually work and can they serve as an effective learning tool for companies?  If your company decides to use surveys in an effective way to achieve desired results, then two key points should be taken into account when planning a survey:

  • Determine the purpose of the survey and the information being gathered. This will help establish what specific types of info are needed to run the survey.
  • Consider what action will take place after the results. Conducting surveys creates expectations that something will happen and a change will take place. Not taking action will bring negative consequences and will reduce management’s credibility.

 Communication is key to an effective survey, which means communicating with your employees, before, during and after. It’s important to be truthful, identify the proper actions to take based on the survey results and above all implement the actions.

Communication

Having good communication skills is fundamental for success in the workplace, whether it’s in dealing with customers or coworkers within the company. When the communication barriers break down, a myriad of issues occur within the office including gossip, office politics and other adverse behavior. It’s important to have superior communication and apply the following practices within your company:

  • Make sure roles, tasks and expectations are clearly defined. Avoid adding unexpected responsibilities on your employees.
  • Implement clear and concise processes within the organization. When processes include relevant information without unnecessary details, it saves time and money.  When processes become too convoluted it creates confusion, miscommunication and conflict.
  • Create a culture of open communication where employees feel free to voice their opinions without repercussion.
  • Provide continuous feedback on employee performance.
  • Motivate employees by pointing out accomplishments and exemplary work.
  • Empathy towards employees and personal challenges.

 Take these steps towards creating an environment that encourages openness and honesty in your workplace. If you create a workspace filled with healthy interpersonal relationships, you’re likely to see many extraordinary benefits within your organization today.

Employee retention: Hiring the RIGHT people

Increasing employee retention rates within your organization involves hiring the right people. Employers not only need to build a great team but also retain them as well.  A company’s employee retention rate is a measure of how well you are keeping your employees satisfied within their jobs. If employees are dissatisfied turnover costs associated with replacing workers can be costly with recruitment, hiring and training costs each time a key worker is replaced. The process can be time consuming, which can lead to a loss in productivity while searching for a replacement.

 There are several ways to increase retention rate among employees; however, the first step begins with the hiring process. Finding the right person and making sure they fit the company culture is essential. Organizations should hire the right people for long-term results not short-term benefits. For example, if you have an employee who stands out as a source of controversy, you may need to consider replacing that employee. Especially, if the employee has shown himself or herself not committed to your company’s mission and growth. In the long term that person can and will bring the team down.

 A few things to consider during the hiring process are the following:

  • Clearly communicate job requirements to candidates during interviews, if anything is unclear or uncertain, then potential candidates aren’t aware of what’s expected of them and may under perform if hired.
  •  Gathering insight into past performance of potential candidates by getting references, which is the best indicator of how well they’ve performed in the past. One of the best sources of information about candidates is a former co-worker who has worked with them in the past.
  •  Lastly, make sure the on boarding process is effective. Studies have shown the retention rate of new employees can be increased by as much as 40% with a solid orientation program.

The hiring process can seem daunting, however it is very important to follow through appropriately in order to get the right skills and qualifications your company is looking for. Strategic planning is vital for organizations who are seeking new talent. It can be the difference between a really good employee or a really bad one, an employee who contributes to growth or one who causes failure.