There is a conundrum employees are facing in today’s mentoring community. The pandemic has radically affected our workplaces – with remote/hybrid becoming more prevalent. Adding a physical disconnect between mentors and mentees who may only see each other over a virtual meeting can create challenges.
But like the workplace itself, mentoring can change with the times. Physical proximity, while helpful, is not essential for mentoring relationships to develop or even flourish. The core components of successful mentoring – commitment, trust, and mentor competence – have not changed and are still applicable. Here are five ways today’s leaders can master “virtual mentorship.”
Clarify the Rules
Establish a routine for your meetings – and hold each other accountable to keep the meeting. Whether you schedule a weekly virtual call, a monthly phone call, or meet in-person each quarter, stick to the schedule and avoid canceling or rescheduling. You must truly invest your time and energy into this professional relationship and treat it as a priority.
Determine and follow through on a commitment to your mentee. Offer to introduce them to another colleague who has additional knowledge to share about your industry. Attend a webinar with them and discuss what they’ve learned. Help them prep for an important meeting. Your actions will build trust and will make your mentee feel valued while also growing their professional skill set.
Talk with your mentee about their career goals. If they are unsure about them, share your career path, which may spark questions from your mentee. Your conversation might help give direction or, at the very least, will inspire them to think about what they want to achieve in their current role and how their efforts will lead them to their next career milestone.
Find a Balance
Introduce boundaries and authenticity. You are both sharing about your work life, but avoid overwhelming your mentee with too much information. Remember, they may be new to the workplace and need time to acclimate. Choose the topics you are willing to discuss, the level of detail you are willing to share, and what you are willing to hear from them. Your discussions should avoid complaints about their work but instead form a concrete plan to face professional challenges.
One productive and gratifying way to connect with your mentee is through working on a special project together. You may choose to work together on a presentation for a professional association. Or if your mentee works within your company, suggest to leadership that they shadow you on a special project or contribute in some way.
Let us advise you on the changing workplace landscape.