Many leaders grow and advance in their careers with the help of a mentor. Because of this, it’s natural to want to “pay it forward” by helping up-and-coming industry professionals find their way.
Even if your company doesn’t have a formal mentorship program in place, there are ways leaders can still act as mentors for their employees. Something as simple as having an open-door policy so employees can ask questions could help encourage an open environment and support growth.
To discuss this and other methods of mentorship, nine Young Entrepreneur Council members recommended some key actions business leaders can take to act as mentors to their team members.
1. Provide Tools For Success
Even outside of formal mentoring roles, it is important to provide your employees with the tools and time to succeed. You should provide them with tools that not only relate to their current position in the company, but tools that relate to what they need to do well in other aspects of their lives as well. For example, if they want to someday branch out on their own in the future, you can help them gain the necessary ability and knowledge to do so. This type of mentoring can also benefit relationship-building because your employees know you aren’t holding them back and that you support their goals. This is a good way to make team builders because you are empowering your employees with valuable skills and tools. They can grow within your company and may take on new roles and responsibilities in the future. – Bryan Driscoll, Motivated Leads
2. Hold Group Meetings
Business leaders can casually mentor their teams by holding group meetings and following up on projects and tasks. This will give staff the opportunity to speak up about issues and problems they need help solving. It’s also important to be aware of what’s going on in the company so there aren’t any surprises down the line and you can handle situations accordingly. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
3. Be Approachable
It’s almost impossible to be a mentor to your employees if they don’t feel comfortable enough to come to you with their concerns, questions or ideas in the first place. We all have a personal brand, whether we realize it or not. And at the leadership level, that brand can significantly impact corporate culture and results. If you’re always wearing a suit and tie, rarely reveal anything about yourself and only interact with employees at higher levels of the organization, you may be branding yourself as intimidating. Whereas, if you ditch the dress code once in a while, embrace compassion and spend more time with your team members, you immediately brand yourself as approachable. This is crucial to building a strong team in which trust, confidence and ideas can flow. – Brian Pallas, Opportunity Network
4. Share Your Experiences And Celebrate Theirs
Entrepreneurs have a shared desire, regardless of the industry they work in, to share their knowledge with other motivated individuals. It’s within our entrepreneurial nature to share and enlighten those around us and to aid them in the pursuit of success. Something as simple as sharing how you’ve recently overcome a hurdle can be enough to help your team resolve issues they might be facing. “Putting on each other’s shoes” can build up the empathy and trust you have for each other. Celebrate their accomplishments as if they were your own and take time off from your busy schedule to have a chat about life and their projects. It will help your team feel included and create a stronger bond. – Nick DeAngelo, Saint Investment Group
5. Implement An Open-Door Policy
To act as a mentor for your team, remind them that you’re always open for communication. It’s important for your staff to feel like they can come to you for advice or with concerns or other issues that might impede your company’s progress. You can have an open-door policy or allow employees to choose time slots that work for their schedule. They’re more likely to come to you for help when you make it clear that you’re available and have the time to listen. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Create A Fulfilling Place To Work
Great mentors positively influence the lives of their mentees and inspire a lifelong relationship of growth and loyalty. This can only be found in relationships where the mentor is both capable and compassionate. It’s one thing to bring in charismatic speakers, famous consultants or expensive courses for your employees, but it’s easy to lose sight of the basics. Are your employees fulfilled working with you? Fulfilled could mean quite a number of things, but in this context it boils down to engagement and community. I’ve had these conversations with many entrepreneurs and I tend to ask questions about their work culture. Many entrepreneurs want to be there for their employees, but wants and actual performance are two different things. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
7. Host Regular Professional Development Trainings
Anyone who is familiar with our company culture at Klickly knows I’m a big fan of Professional Development chats. We adopted this development model from Bain & Company. It is a fantastic method by which each supervisor works with their direct reports on a monthly basis to help guide them in a self-selected area of professional development. Whether this means working with a team member to refine their presentation skills or helping an employee build a network in their area of focus, establishing a system of “PD chats” can help your team flourish through regular investment and mentorship. As a leader, initiating this type of methodology ensures that you’re supporting not just a few of your team members, but your entire company. – Cooper Harris, Klickly
8. Take Time To Listen And Respond
Give them a neutral format to share. I send a weekly survey on Fridays to gauge stress levels, workplace and to invite questions or sharing. Sharing is optional, but I find that a lot of team members are pretty transparent about how life is going. I take time to respond to answers privately if they warrant a response. This provides a weekly check-in and touchpoint with me and my team. – Trivinia Barber, PriorityVA
9. Lead By Example
Business leaders who build thought leadership and leverage social media serve as the ultimate role models for staff. When leaders publish articles, leverage video and show up on social media, they are setting the tone and positioning the company and themselves as experts. Ideally, this role modeling inspires employees to follow their lead and also be role models for the company. For example, my COO publishes content on social media and regularly records podcast episodes for our content strategy. Our staff is more likely to participate in representing the company and our body of work when the COO takes the lead. – Libby Rothschild, Dietitian Boss