The Importance of a Mentor During The New Employee Orientation Process

This is a follow-up post to: A Guide to New Employee Orientation

A mentor is someone who partners with a new employee during his or her first three months of employment. They offer advice and guidance to help foster and promote the professional development of a new employee. The mentor knows the ropes, and can be an effective source of advice and encouragement. They offer seasoned experience in the form of training and socializing the new employee to the company, and with an effective mentor, a new employee will quickly become a contributing member to your department.

The benefits of a good mentoring program are felt by both parties.  The mentor feels they are giving something back to the department by sharing accumulated knowledge and experience.  They gain a better understanding of themselves through helping others and maintains or creates a fresh perspective.  The new employee will have access to quick advice and guidance, encouragement and clear information and honest feedback.  Their integration to the organization will be quick as they will have help in understanding the culture of the organization.

When selecting a mentor you will need to consider specific criteria.  The mentor must be a high performer who is skilled in the new employee’s job.  The mentor is a peer of the new employee, who is well regarded and accepted by the current employees and who displays patience and good communication and interpersonal skills.  They should be proud of the organization and most importantly want to be a mentor.

Before agreeing to be a mentor, they need to understand the responsibilities of the role.  They will be relied on to be a tour guide and provide introductions and help socialize the new employee.  They will be required to be an informational resource for the new employee regarding policies, procedures, work rules, norms, etc, assist in training the new employee and identify resources for the new employee.

POINTERS FOR THE MENTOR

A mentor contributes to a successful orientation. They are responsible to ensure that work is carried out in a structured manner throughout the mentoring process.  To be successful, a mentor must:
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  • Establish a trust relationship. The mentor will explain their role and answer the new employee’s questions. Both should share their respective expectations with regard to task training
  • Introduce the workstation and tools. The mentor will present a general overview of the tasks relating to the position. They could present an example or demonstration of the process or activity being carried out. For each task, it is important that the mentor explain its relationship to the coordination and sequence of operations
  • Supervise the application. The mentor must observe the new employee in a real situation and ensure that the employee uses the correct work methods and processes. The mentor must provide constant feedback.
  • Ensure the transfer of knowledge. In order to better integrate newly-learned skills, the new employee could repeat a practical activity several times. The mentor must progressively withdraw while remaining available to answer questions. The mentor must provide support throughout the entire integration process.[/listdot]

A mentor may use the following strategies to maximize the effectiveness of his or her mentoring efforts:

  1. Formulate objectives for each application

    These objectives make it possible to define the behaviours expected of the employee in the execution of his or her duties, and should be based on competencies

  2. Regularly inform the employee of their progress

    The mentor must clearly explain the behaviour that is expected of the employee and monitor and comment on progress, taking care to tell the employee what to do to improve, and how to apply learned skills on the job

  3. Give the employee the training plan and any other relevant memory-aids

    These tools will encourage the employee to apply newfound skills and avoid mistakes

  4. Recognize the employee’s accomplishments

    At the end of the training program, recognize the employees success.

Throughout the process remain patient and positive, change your communication style as needed, listen rather than talk, and probably most importantly, do not be judgmental.

To be blunt, to be an effective mentor, you need to want to be one, therefore Managers, if the mentor you have chosen shows at any time during the process, any negative behaviours, consider another person.  The mentor has a great deal of influence on the new employee and negative comments, no matter how insignificant they may seem, will filter into the new employees perspective on the company and their position.

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