Regardless of the type of business you own, your staff is your greatest asset. It’s crucial that you’re getting the most from your employees, and you do this by actively mentoring your stellar team to produce growth for your company.
This growth-centric mentorship isn’t casual or sporadic. In fact, at least 20% of your time should be devoted to mentoring. It’s a purposeful weekly meeting scheduled by, prepared for and owned by the employee. The meetings don’t have to be long, but they’re the best opportunity for employees to discuss their goals, get feedback and present their ideas. As their supervisor, it’s your opportunity to encourage and ask questions to push them to do their best work.
Bestselling author and keynote speaker Mitch Matthews — who’s worked with organizations like NASA, Walt Disney and Principal Financial Group — is a big advocate of what he calls “project-specific mentoring.”
He says, “Project-specific mentoring is where you identify someone in your organization that you really want to invest in. So you look for a specific project where you give them more autonomy, more ownership.” He also says mentoring allows for limited risk and fast learning: “At the same time, it also increases the sense of ownership and increases the loyalty, and it increases engagement.”
Mentoring to ensure growth
An increased sense of ownership, loyalty, and engagement leads to a successful mentorship program, which in turn ensures growth. You achieve this by making these one-on-one mentorship meetings, allowing you to ask the best questions, demonstrate how you think through business challenges, and show each employee that he or she is a priority. Because these meetings are individual, train midlevel managers and department heads to be mentors, too. Mentoring in this way will keep your employees engaged (and make them want to stay).
Without this investment of time and focus, you can count on being the exact same business at this time next year. Don’t stay stagnant; here are four ways mentoring can promote company growth:
1. Employee loyalty: Mentoring can help keep your high-potential employees with you for the long haul. When it comes to Millennials, 68% of those with mentors want to stay at their respective companies for more than five years, while only 32% without mentors feel the same way. You want to keep your employees — replacing them can cost 100% to 300% of their salaries.
2. Developed leadership team: You and your leadership team will also benefit from mentoring because you’ll learn how to give others your full attention (and to see things from different perspectives). When you mentor a diverse group of people, seeing all of these perspectives improves your problem-solving and agility as a leader.
3. Leadership pipeline: Mentoring builds and fills your leadership pipeline for you and for your employees. According to an aforementioned source, mentored employees are five times more likely to get promoted, and mentors are six times more likely.
4. More free time: Being a good mentor helps you understand and develop your employees’ strengths. That way, they can work more independently when you hand off work to them. By understanding what the employees you mentor are capable of, you can delegate better to shift your focus to the big picture.
Mentoring helps separate good businesses from great businesses: It makes every employee a rock star instead of just a mediocre staff member. A growth-centric mentorship program is a time investment, but it’s worth it. It always yields great dividends — employee growth inevitably leads to business growth.
For nearly 30 years, Drew McLellan has been in advertising. For 20 of those years, he has owned and run an agency. He leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small- to medium-sized advertising agencies on how to grow and build their profitability.