Advice from Debbee Dale, managing director of Debbee Dale Development

Mentors have existed for many years, but not everyone may have admitted to having one in the past.

This has changed, especially with more about the benefits of mentoring schemes being featured in the media.

The role is varied, but in the main mentors can help your staff to focus, have a vision, commit to their goals and set achievable plans. They should also be there to encourage and congratulate your employees’ achievements.

A mentor is a person who can be a sounding board, someone of experience who can listen and help development, but not lose sight of reality. The mentor should keep their mentee’s feet grounded and support and stretch them to succeed personally and professionally.

There are real measurable benefits to have a mentoring scheme in your business. They range from increased confidence, self-esteem and motivation of your staff to an opportunity to make use of experience in the business and give individuals greater ownership of staff development. Companies that embrace mentoring do benefit.

In short, everyone should have a mentor.

If you are considering setting up a mentoring programme, ask yourself:

  • Are there less experienced staff in more junior roles that could be inspired to progress though the ranks and up the career ladder?
  • Do you have enough senior staff who could mentor them, but who they don’t report to?
  • Do you know what you want to achieve and do you have tools to help measure your results?
  • Can you spare the time for both mentor and mentee to meet?
  • Will you give yourself some time to embed such a scheme into the business?
  • Do you have a department/person who will administer this for you? If not, can you find an external programme that can do this with you? Training companies can offer you advice on how to run an in-house scheme and train your mentors. Alternatively, organisations such as Women 1st have good mentoring schemes that you can get involved with, either directly or via the Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE). Quite a few AWTE members are mentors for the Women 1st mentoring scheme and there are many success stories.

Once you have established that you can set up a mentoring scheme, roll 
it out to your business. 
Here are some tips:

  • Think about how you match mentee with mentor so they both get the best from the relationship.
  • Ensure a mentor agreement is in place and that there is an account of each mentoring activity and outcome. Make sure there is someone to evaluate the process and also that the mentor exit phase has been discussed.
  • Don’t expect instant results. It takes a few meetings for both parties to understand one another, build trust and know what to focus on. However, ensure a structure is in place as you 
need commitment from all parties.
  • Don’t make this a one-off; take the time to embed a scheme into the business. You can achieve a happier, more fulfilled and inspired workforce and that should help your staff become more passionate about what they do and stay longer in their jobs. Evaluate the scheme regularly and ensure there is a review of the process by both mentee and mentor.