When hiring new members to their teams, many companies choose to hire externally, while others choose to promote from within. In these cases, there is a confidence and trust in the individuals who have worked within the organization and are ready to take the next step.
This is something that we have come to experience firsthand when we have needed to fill important positions within our lumber yards, sawmills, and even at our corporate headquarters. Because of this, it is important for us to help get our newer team members up to speed with their department and our organization so they can acclimate to our culture and way of conducting business on a day to day basis.
We have found that mentorship programs are a key element in this process and an important factor in an effort to retain millennial employees. This generation seeks mentorship opportunities that allow them to grow and become leaders in their own right.
These are a few practices that we found useful in creating and supporting mentorship programs that have been successful for us in the hardwood lumber business.
Build a program around your culture. A few of the key factors to consider when creating a mentorship program are:
- How often mentors and mentees meet
- How long will the program be?
- Individual guidelines are set by the participants
- Opportunity for feedback at the end of the program
They key is to find what works for your company culture.
Outline the benefits. For a mentorship program to be effective everyone must buy-in. Sometimes there can be a reluctance among senior staff members to allocate the time and effort needed to be a mentor. However, mentorship shouldn’t be looked at as a one-way street. Mentors often benefit themselves by exposure to a new, fresh outlook.
Find a creative match. Mentors and mentees don’t have to be matched within the same department. Sometimes it is more valuable to partner people with similar interests or even matching them with someone that has the kind of experience and knowledge that they wish to acquire.
We have seen the benefit of this first hand when we have matched employees in our lumber yards and sawmills with people in marketing and human resources.
Exchange feedback. Encourage mentors and mentees to share feedback on the mentorship experience. Discuss what worked, what didn’t work, what might improve the program in the long run? This helps grow the program and make it more beneficial for everyone involved, especially future mentors.
Throughout the course of one’s career, there are times when you were trained or coached by an older, battle-tested veteran. Think about how that helped further your career and growth as a leader. A business will benefit from the free exchange of perspectives and ideas and a mentorship program is a great way to help facilitate that while also serving as an incubator for future leaders. It may be a key resource that helps you grow leadership from within.