To help employees feel empowered – and to help them learn new skills – Bluewater Technologies in Southfield, MI, developed a new employee mentorship program that combines professional and personal development opportunities.
To participate, mentors and mentees can apply online and provide some information on their interests and what they’re hoping to learn. From there, Bluewater Technologies matches potential mentors with mentees based on specialized skillsets, knowledge areas, and experience levels. All participants agree to commit to at least one year of mentorship, ensuring that enough time is invested to reap the full benefits.
According to areas of interest, personality matches, and communication-style preferences, there are a few different options that mentors and mentees can pick from for their mentorship.
Types of Mentorships
A one-on-one pairing allows the mentor and mentee to focus on specific competencies that the mentee wants to develop. In these situations, the mentor can act as a sounding board or role model, or provide specific direction or advice.
Based upon location, mentors and mentees can choose to communicate via social media, email, or videoconferencing instead of meeting in person. This allows employees to build relationships despite their geographic locations – and to meet people they may not have a chance to work with otherwise.
Instead of pairing an experienced professional with an up-and-coming employee, the reverse-mentoring option pairs a younger mentor with an experienced mentee to share new skills. For example, this option is a great fit for mentees that know a lot about technology and social media, and want to share what they know with older generations inside the workplace.
Also known as “mentoring circles,” group mentoring brings multiple mentees with common goals together so they can gather guidance and advice from a single mentor.
Instead of the traditional mentor-mentee relationship, peer mentoring brings employees with similar interests together to discuss issues and challenges, and to learn from one another. No one in the group may have more years of experience than anyone else, but bringing diverse backgrounds and skillsets together can still help employees share what they’ve learned with each other.
Goals of the Mentorship Program
Regardless of the path they choose to follow, the goal of Bluewater Technologies’ program is to help mentors and mentees complete the three stages of the mentorship relationship:
- Exploration: This stage allows for the exploration of the mentee’s issues and needs. Regardless of expertise level, it’s the mentee’s responsibility to identify the purpose of the relationship, along with what they hope to gain from the mentor. During this time, the mentor listens to the mentee’s goals and thinks about ways he or she can assist. Mentee needs can range from learning a new skill or advice on certain projects to help with creating strategies for career advancement.
- Understanding: This stage provides the mentor and mentee with a greater understanding of the areas of need. Together, they explore challenges and strengths, and establish priorities for their time together.
- Action Planning: The final stage allows the mentor and mentee to work together to develop creative approaches to overcome issues and barriers, helping the mentee achieve growth in the areas he or she identified earlier.
To ensure that the relationships are successful, Bluewater Technologies spends time educating mentors and mentees on their specific roles and expectations. By providing tips and advice on how to make the most of the relationship from both sides, each person knows what they’re expected to contribute. The company also provides a checklist to help guide each mentorship meeting along the way.
Because of this mentorship program, Bluewater Technologies’ employees feel more comfortable in their roles, and know that there are people dedicated to helping them achieve their personal and professional goals.
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