Everything looks different when offices and businesses have reduced people working there, and most people working from home, including relationships between mentors and mentees. Without the ability to meet in person and without the unplanned hallway conversations that happen in the workplace, effective mentoring requires a new approach.
Even though you may need to discover and learn new methods concerning your current mentoring practices, it is worth the extra planning. Having a solid mentoring process in place, you can help your less experienced team members refine their skills. This will help develop them into your organization’s next leaders. Another upside to prioritizing mentoring, even though it looks different these days. You can help increase professional opportunities for women and people of color.
Commit to clear and consistent communication
When your team members are working remotely, your newer staff members cannot see and hear how your more experienced team members do their jobs. It does not matter if you have a formal mentorship program in place, you can help younger workers understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it all fits into the bigger picture. For instance, after a call with a key stakeholder, your team’s mentors could explain to mentees the reason for specific recommendations or how they chose to respond to a specific challenge. It is important for those in a mentor role to take time to share their wisdom for virtual mentoring to work best.
Be candid and transparent
With remote mentoring, it is now even more important to say what needs to be said. When communicating virtually, mentees cannot pick up on physical clues, hand actions and body language like they can in an office setting. Encourage your team’s mentors to provide specific input on how their mentees can gain new skills and improve.
Emphasize the human part of mentoring
Everyone has things going on in their lives, from extra childcare tasks to concerns about their health. It is always a good idea for mentors to check in on their mentees to see how they are faring. Work to build a caring work culture. And when their virtual calls get interrupted by children or pets, let them know it is alright. It is important to remember that mentors do not have to immediately provide feedback and advice. Sometimes, just asking mentors to listen is a way to grow the relationship. In time, mentors will come to understand when thoughtful feedback is required, and when they should just listen instead of offering their thoughts.
Encourage new team members to get involved
Rather than waiting for an experienced team member to contact them, talk to your junior employees about reaching out to the more experienced people on your team. They could talk to seasoned team members through phone calls or video calls. You want to encourage this because virtual meetings are more personable than emails or texts. Both mentors and mentees must put in the effort to make the relationship succeed.
Mentorship relationships will help bring out the best in your team. It takes time and creativity to make the most of these relationships when your face-to-face contact is limited. You can make mentoring work in a virtual environment.