Joining a new company in a new role can be intimidating. The leaders among us bear responsibility for getting employees hired and on-boarded as quickly as possible, and ensuring they have everything needed to succeed. But, often, we don’t address how overwhelmed new hires can feel in those early days.

Employee discouragement and fear of failure in this critical time can lead to them leaving your organization. Luckily, there is a solution: new hire mentors. By providing an experienced employee as a mentor, you can ensure new hires get the ongoing instruction and encouragement they need long after the onboarding process ends.

New Hire Mentor Selection

The first step in developing a mentorship program is selecting your organization’s mentors. Look for these key attributes in the ideal mentor:

  • A positive attitude: Your chosen mentors should have a positive attitude and outlook — not just on their position, but the company as well.
  • Respect of peers and subordinates: Mentors should be well-respected among their peers and subordinates. Choosing a well-respected mentor provides credibility to the person’s expertise.
  • Organizational skills: A mentor should be well organized, with the proven ability to prioritize work and effectively manage his or her time.
  • Strong performance: Mentors should have a track record of high performance, with the motivation and willingness to go the extra mile.
  • A good temperament: An effective mentor needs a patient temperament and the ability to tailor his or her approach to each mentee.
  • Organizational familiarity: Mentors need to be familiar with the organization and have a solid understanding of the industry and organizational nuances.
  • Personality: A mentor should have an open and approachable personality, with the ability to instill trust and confidence.
  • Experience: Last, but not least, mentors need to have a high level of experience in their role to facilitate effective knowledge transfer.

Mentorship Responsibilities and Benefits

Once you designate mentors, you can define the mentorship responsibilities and benefits. Mentors have a strategic purpose that provides various benefits to the organization.

Role clarity: When new hires have a mentor, it greatly reduces role ambiguity or having a vague understanding of their new job’s description or responsibilities. A mentor can serve as a sounding board to help define the expectations a new hire must meet to succeed.

Knowledge transfer: Mentorship involves sharing information, knowledge or skills that aid new employees in their roles. With the shortage of available skilled labor, it is more important than ever to develop it yourself. You must ensure new hires get the training and information they need from their mentors.

Organizational culture: Having a mentor can greatly aid a new employee in learning about the organizational culture and understanding its mission, vision and values. Without a mentor, new employees may misunderstand your company’s purpose and expectations, which can ultimately shape employee perceptions and behaviors on the job.

Social connections: One of the most crucial mentor benefits is providing new employees with immediate social connections. A mentor can help the new employee feel like they belong, introduce them to colleagues, and dive into the cultural norms and expectations of the organization.

Career development: As an experienced and long-time employee, a mentor can provide insight to newer hires about how to function in their current roles, as well as what they need to learn and do to grow and advance with the company. This guidance can help junior employees feel supported and keep their eyes on long-term career goals — goals to accomplish within your company.

Engagement: Having a mentor facilitates engagement, as new employees are likely to feel more connected to their colleagues and with the organization. Not only does that make for a happier workforce, but research from the Corporate Leadership Council shows engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organization.

Faster road to productivity: Perhaps most important, new employees can become productive more quickly with the assistance of a mentor. Any performance problems can be addressed informally and immediately, while preserving the mentor/mentee relationship.

Measuring Mentorship Success

Once you’ve selected your mentor and assigned the responsibilities, you’ll want to start measuring the success of your mentorship program. There are many indicators of success when it comes to mentorship, but first and foremost is turnover. A reduction in turnover is a clear indicator that the mentor relationship may be influencing employees to remain with the organization.

There are many indicators of success when it comes to mentorship, but first and foremost is turnover. A reduction in turnover is a clear indicator.

Secondly, higher levels of employee satisfaction or engagement may also indicate success of a mentorship program. You can determine if employee satisfaction has gone up by conducting informal surveys or through more structured annual engagement surveys.

No matter what your new hire on-boarding process looks like, it’s beneficial to incorporate a mentorship program for new hires. In doing so, you will be setting your new employees up for success and reducing the likelihood of expensive turnover for your organization.