A good mentor however is invaluable and will realise that every minute that they spend with a new member of staff will be repaid tenfold. Having acted as a mentor on many occasions I soon realised that the first few weeks required some intensive supervision, which meant that I needed to put certain things on hold so that I could make enough time to allow this to happen. In these first few weeks I would set a weekly timetable, which would also include time slots where I had arranged for members of staff in other parts of the organization to facilitate certain activities. For example, I would allocate a day with administrators, so that an appreciation of filing, photocopying, incoming and outgoing post and other policies and procedures could be attained. All of these are fundamentally important activities within the business. I also arranged for time to be spent in other departments, so that an appreciation of the wider business activities was also attained. If you do take the time in the early weeks to spend time to train and supervise appropriately, then you will find that your new colleague becomes an asset who you can allocate ‘real work’ too, which will help to develop them and ease the burden on you. The problem with a lot of people, however is that they focus on the here and now and are too short sighted to see this!
It is also very important to make new people feel welcome and at ease in their new role. Always remember that one day you had been in this position and that no matter how busy you are politeness and courtesy costs nothing. As stressful as a work environment may be, there is absolutely no excuse for shouting or being rude to your colleagues. I say this because in the past I have seen a number of members of staff almost reduced to tears as a result of being inappropriately spoken to by more senior members of staff. This is totally unacceptable and in most cases was due to the fact that the member of staff had not been given adequate support and supervision from their mentor, which had resulted in a number of mistakes/issues occurring. New members of staff require time and if a mentor does not allocate sufficient time to train and supervise them then the consequences are likely to result in a demotivated member of staff who is not developing and likely to make mistakes. If this is the case an employer should question their selection of mentor or ask themselves if they have made provision to fulfill the role effectively with the mentor’s workload.
If you are currently acting as a mentor, I refer to the definition stated earlier and ask you to consider whether you are encouraging and supporting your colleague to help them manage their own learning in order to help them to develop skills to maximise their potential. Or, do you see them as a burden that has been thrust upon you, where you have no time to help them. If it is the latter, then I suggest that you speak to your employer and see if they can find someone more suitable, as this is not fair on the person you are mentoring.
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