Putting Internal Employees to Work as Mini-Mentors
As a coach, have you thought about calling on help from the inside? Yes, the inside! That is, have you considered asking a member of your staff to work with another one of your employees? Think about it. You have a wealth of resources at your fingertips — the people who work for you. As already seen in the examination of the ways and means of coaching and mentoring, people and their unique personalities, talents, and possibilities are what make this birdie fly.
It stands to reason then that your employee Pam may well possess certain competencies that are eluding her colleague, and also your employee, Matt. If this is indeed the case, why not permit Pam to tutor Matt on his shortcomings? You can, in effect, allow Pam to take Matt under her wing in an informal setup within the perimeters of the workplace.
By implementing such a relationship within your team or department, you're exercising a very prominent coaching and mentoring technique. You are maximizing your talent base by filling in the gaps of knowledge and skills that invariably exist in one employee with the expertise of another member of your team. It's no different than high school or college tutors who help out their classmates.
Advancing employees' skill levels and abilities to assume greater responsibilities and challenges is the surest way to keep employees in your fold. Employees whose job interest remains high are more likely to want to stay put than are bored or disgruntled employees.
We'll call these in-house “taking under the wing” efforts mini-mentoring. From one person to another, the passing on of know-how is at the foundation of what is called mentoring. Tutoring and upgrading the knowledge base and skills of another is mentoring doing its job and doing it right.
Understand What You Want to Accomplish
Now, just how do you make this setup work? Aren't there a lot of egos just cruising for a bruising here? Again, just as with bringing in external coaches, you have to know precisely what you want accomplished. Before you apprise your employees of your mini-mentoring idea, make sure you yourself can clearly verbalize just what you have in mind, and just what you want to achieve by initiating a mini-mentoring relationship.
Next, you've got to establish a time parameter for this mini-mentoring, too. Open-ended relationships of this kind often set in motion the Law of Diminishing Returns. You've seen it happen time and again in so many teacher-student learning relationships, and in comparable learning environments.
They start out fresh and with a sense of grand purpose. The bright-eyed and bushy-tailed students are, at the onset, sponges for learning. Real sponges eventually become waterlogged and require a squeeze or two, or the absorption ceases. Ditto for the students absorbing their lessons.
So, carefully consider your objectives and time frame, and, of course, monitor the progress of the relationship from both sides of the employee aisle. That is, periodically talk to the employee recruited to assist her coworker — Pam, in this example.
Ask how things are going, and if she feels she is making headway in the education of Matt. And then reverse the process and query Matt about how he feels the relationship is working. Keep the communication lines open — always.