written for Catersource Magazine
People often consider mentorships to be something built outside of a company, whether you hit it off with someone at a networking event or run into a social media friend in a coffee shop. I’m here to explain how (and why) mentorship within a company can be an extremely valuable relationship that carries on well beyond company walls.
As a leader in your business, you hold the unique role of being an influencer within your organization. When your employees have questions, they look to you for answers. When they make mistakes, they look to you for feedback. However, these discussions are often done strictly regarding company matters, like a deadline concern or a question about an assignment. You have the power to transform these relationships into mentorships by positioning yourself as someone who provides guidance in all situations.
Here are some ways you can carve out your role as a mentor within your business.
The key to becoming a mentor in your company is the openness in which you handle situations that arise with your employees. Rather than discipline a team member for a mistake, turn it into a learning lesson and discuss how the issue can be prevented in the future. Communicate often and ensure that your employees trust that you have their back. Don’t be afraid to be transparent about your own mistakes; you’re human too, and your humility will build trust with your staff.
At the end of the day, the buck stops with you. When things go wrong, avoid placing blame on your employees—that’s how you lose their trust and respect. Instead, ask them how you can be more of a resource in that situation. Look to yourself to see if you could have made a difference, whether it’s something you did or didn’t do.
Celebrate your team
High morale goes a long way in a work setting. It can increase productivity, while decreasing turnover rate. Happy employees aren’t looking for new jobs; they want to be their very best in your company. Don’t take this for granted. Find time to celebrate your employees’ wins and recognize their successes. Invest in your team by taking them out to lunch regularly or planning a retreat—the goal is to build a personal relationship that isn’t restricted to your office.
Act as a resource
As a mentor, you need to recognize that your team members are not just employees. They are career-seeking individuals who are likely several stages back from where you are. Whether they plan to stay with your company indefinitely or they have lofty dreams that will take them elsewhere, you need to be steadfast in your support for them. Listen to their questions and give them advice, even if it feels like you’re coaching them for their eventual next gig. It can certainly be uncomfortable to talk future goals with an employee, but rest assured that the relationship that you build will be stronger than if you simply maintained your role as a boss. Plus, there’s a chance they will leave sooner if they feel that they aren’t getting much beyond a paycheck.
There is a big difference between being a boss and being a mentor—whether you pursue mentorship is up to you. Know that, if you want to make a difference in your employees’ life, it’s the most meaningful way to do so.