Discover the Mutual Benefits of Workplace Mentorship

On the Job Mentorship Meg Ferraro graphic

In this "On the Job" segment, Meg Ferraro, vice president, assistant general counsel at ADP, chats with Cheddar News about the value and benefits of workplace mentorship programs.

One effective strategy to keep and develop quality employees is by offering mentoring programs. These working relationships between employees and leadership help those involved realize their own goals and uncover new ways to achieve them.

Speaking with Cheddar News, above, Meg Ferraro (MF), vice president, assistant general counsel at ADP, says one thing that both mentors and mentees should not do in this situation is to stay quiet.

Q: How is hybrid remote work changed the way people approach having or being a mentor?

MF: There are a lot of things that can go into creating a great mentorship relationship. And I think in our new environment with hybrid and remote work, we have to keep in mind that mentorship becomes even more important to help employees develop and grow.

People have changed the way they work and where they work. Both employers and employees need to have insight and visibility into what employees are doing and also what the company's doing. The employer can gain that insight by having these mentor relationships and keeping the employee aware of what's going on within the company, and the employee can give visibility into what they're doing through these mentor relationships. It's also a best practice because having visibility into what the employee is doing can help to combat any proximity bias that could be in play when you're working remotely or in a hybrid model.

Q: What advice would you have for an employee that is looking for a mentor?

MF: I think the best thing that they can do is to make sure they set the framework. It's up to the employee to be clear about what they're looking for, to set their goals and to make sure that they share those with their mentor. The mentee has to be responsible and accountable and know what they're looking for out of the relationship right from the start. And then the mentor needs to check in with the mentee every once in a while to see what they're doing, how they're doing it, and be sure that they're achieving those goals – and also to ask what can they do differently to make the relationship better.

I also highly recommend that individuals join business resource groups (BRG). I am a leader of a BRG, and I also am a member of many others. Those BRG communities can help to build mentoring relationships that can then help employees get involved and foster connections.

Q: What does a successful relationship between a mentor and a mentee look like?

MF: There are a lot of things, but when both the mentor and the mentee are learning, then that's a success. And a good mentoring relationship also helps to foster other connections. Sometimes a mentoring relationship can then lead to a sponsorship relationship which is something that as we progress in our careers, we know we need even more. And so once as you're going through a mentoring relationship, the key is to mentor those relationships and hope that they'll grow so you can then carry it forward into a sponsoring relationship.

Q: We talked about what mentees should do when they're looking for a mentor, but what steps can leaders take that foster these mentor relationships?

MF: I think is really something that we all need to be responsible for as leaders. I would say, going back to the topic of BRGs – get involved, make yourself visible. Let people know that you want to and expect to have these types of relationships. Be willing to collaborate, partner and grow together with your mentee, and then seek to understand so once you enter into this relationship, know that you are there to listen. And then once you've listened, be willing to share your experiences that relate to what the mentee is doing.

Q: What are some of the top benefits of having a mentor, not just for the employee, but also for the mentor themselves?

MF: I think there's a lot for the mentee, the mentor and for the company. From a mentee perspective, they can gain visibility, they can get increased opportunities, promotions, and skills development. For the mentor it's about building those relationships and helping others to grow. Then the company will see not only for the mentee, but also for the mentor, greater engagement and retention, and it can also help to identify great talent.

Q: What should mentees – and even mentors -- not do in this situation?

MF: I think the key is to not stay quiet. Don't assume that just because the mentor is leaving it up to you as the mentee that there's not much you have to do. I said earlier, you need to own that relationship. You need to set the tone and the goal of the relationship and make sure that there's that open communication. And then the mentor has to be open and willing to share information about where they've been, what they've done and how that can relate to what the mentee is doing.

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