Talent managers are famous for giving people straightforward employee development goals. It makes sense, of course. Talent managers are supposed to nurture the organization's talent.
But is it enough to simply provide employees with goals, or should you offer additional support to help employees achieve these goals?
At Management Mentors, we strongly believe that mentoring can go a long way in helping people reach their desired goals. Here's why…
1. People don't achieve employee development goals overnight.
If you meet with an employee and discuss goals for the next quarter, six months, or year, that's great. It's always important for people to have something to strive for, right?
But a discussion here or there about the person's goals isn't enough. A person needs long-term support, simply because the person won't be achieving the goals overnight—they take time.
For example, let's say Christine has been tasked with becoming a better presenter in front of large groups of people. Christine and her mentor, Alicia, can discuss a long-term action plan. But Alicia can also offer emotional support as Christine faces her public speaking fears, congratulations when she does well, even feedback if Christine chooses to do a run-through of the presentation in front of Alicia.
In other words, a formal mentoring program is ideal for this process since the mentoring relationship typically lasts 9-12 months, a suitable amount of time for the employee to develop skills and reach outlined goals under the mentor's watchful gaze.
The mentoree can turn to the mentor for support, encouragement, and confidential conversations that he or she might not be comfortable having with a direct boss. The mentor isn't there to judge or "report back" to upper management, so the relationship provides a safe mentoring environment in which the employee can flourish.
2. People typically like hearing from other folks who've "been there" and can relate.
In formal mentoring programs, a junior employee is matched to a senior employee who serves as the mentor. This set-up is deliberate. The senior employee can share his or her insights and experience when he/she was in the junior employee's shoes.
When facing a challenging goal, it can be quite helpful and inspiring for mentorees to hear from their mentors that they (the mentors) once faced the same challenges…and successfully overcame said challenges. The mentors can offer equal parts inspiration and sympathy (and an occasional kick in the butt, when needed).
For example, if Joe has been tasked with taking on more leadership roles, Joe and his mentor, Adam, can discuss Adam's journey, including some of the pitfalls that Joe should look out for.
3. It takes a village.
Most of us have heard the expression that it takes a village to raise a child. But this could apply to developing employees as well.
While it might seem as if we're saying "the more support, the better," we believe it should be the right support. Talent managers, HR managers, mentoring program directors, mentors, and coaches can all play a positive role in developing and nurturing talent.
For example, Mike has been tasked with five goals for the next six months, but some of those goals require different support. Mike's mentor is perfect for helping Mike develop more overall confidence, but a coach is ideal for helping Mike learn a specific skill, such as using Excel.
4. Developing an employee is at the very heart of mentoring.
Formal mentoring is all about the mentoree transforming professionally and personally. So it makes sense that mentoring would be used in conjunction with whatever employee development goals that a manager sets.
And the truth is that during the course of the mentoring relationship, the mentoree might identify additional goals that he or she wants to achieve during the relationship. Being able to self-identify is a powerful skill, one that will only serve the person well in the future.
What do you think? Do you use mentoring to support employee development goals? Share your thoughts in the comments.