Why Peer Mentoring is so Important, and What You Can Do to Get Involved
Have you ever seen someone who really excelled at something and wondered how they got to where they are today?
Maybe it was a great leader who inflamed your aspiration, or perhaps it was the teacher who made such an impact on your life.
While these people have much wisdom, and knowledge, and strength, and inspiration to give now, it may not always have been this way. At some point, its likely a mentor took them under their wing, showed them the ropes, and gave them some support along the way, changing their life forever – either at work or in their personal life.
While success does take hard work and determination, having a mentor can be the catalyst needed to really make progress towards those all-important life goals it can also be a great tool for employers to attract and retain good staff and keep people engaged!
What is peer mentoring?
Peer mentoring is a popular approach used across a variety of industries including health & social care but more so in the corporate world.
It traditionally takes place between a person who has already lived through a particular experience and someone who is new to it. Mentoring is rarely paid although there are paid mentoring services available.
Peer mentoring might seem like a one-way street, but it’s not. In fact, peer mentoring is mutually beneficial – it is a reciprocal learning activity, that allows both individuals to share and gain knowledge.
Why is it so important?
For employees it gives you another perspective. It keeps you current and engaged. It opens you up to new ideas and helps you to craft skills in other areas. From influencing to learning new concepts.
For employers these days attracting and retaining good talent is hard to do and the usual sell of working in a NfP with great culture, values alignment and flexibility are almost hygiene factors across all organisations these days.
So, what sets the high performing companies and high performers apart? Yes, 1:1 coaching. Well, it’s a combination of factors but Mentoring is one of them. Team training, a great learning culture in an organization partnered with external training is great – but top companies retain and attract great talent with peer mentoring.
Mentoring doesn’t need to happen in the same department, in fact someone as a front line Case Manager would potentially benefit from a mentor in say HR who has many more years of experience than they do and conversely for the person in HR to benefit from this relationship. Its such a great offering from a company especially for millennials – it will help keep them engaged.
How do you find a peer mentor?
Start by talking with your Manager or HR department about setting this up. Having it as a formal arrangement and documented with a plan / guideline does help to ensure success. This certainly makes those early catchups go smoothly before you build a nice dynamic between the two of you.
You can pinpoint someone yourself who would be a good mentor. Observe those around you and find someone who you think seems confident in what they are doing, or someone who is excelling.
Remember, you company can always pair you up and recommend a mentor to you. Sometimes we all need a fresh perspective, and this might help you find the ideal person to help you grow and develop and conversely if you are a Manager – keep your team fresh, current and engaged by trying this out with a pilot scheme in the business by pairing up interested parties.
How do you become a peer mentor?
This one is straightforward – be observant, be aware, be courteous, and be supportive.
Keep an eye out for newbies who might need some extra help, or pinpoint people who have great potential and approach them. Hopefully gently and tactfully show how you can help with their development.
Everyone could use a peer mentor at some point in their life, and if you are a peer mentor yourself, the set-up is just as beneficial for you.
Peer mentorship is a powerful thing – start thinking about how you could implement this in your workplace today.
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