THE SHOP

April '20

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6 THE SHOP APRIL 2020 Y ou've spent good money attracting, hiring and training great employees. But what happens when your skilled workers retire or move on to other pur- suits? Does all your investment go down the drain? Maybe not. You can capture the skills and knowledge critical to your bottom line by having your top performers pass along their expertise to other members of your staff. It's done through mentoring. ON THE MOVE Securing your training investment is especially critical today, given the mobility of the nation's workforce. Because people are more likely than ever to work for multiple employers over the course of their careers, your own staff is always subject to unexpected change. "You could lose one of your top people tomorrow," says Randy Goruk, president of The Randall Wade Group, Scottsdale, Arizona (leadersedge360.com). "You need to have someone ready to step up to the plate." In addition to keeping valuable exper- tise from going out the door, mentoring can help your business in other ways: • First, it is likely to increase your overall retention rate. People will be more loyal to your organization when they see you take an interest in their professional development. • Second, as employees become more skilled, you will become more likely to promote from within. That's one more contributor to loyalty. • Third, mentoring can help when new faces come aboard. "Mentoring by seasoned employees can help new hires avoid making costly mistakes and more quickly acquire tech- nical and non-technical skills needed to become valuable players," says Lois P. Frankel, president of Corporate Coaching International, Pasadena, California (corpo- ratecoachingintl.com). Finally, mentoring can result in a more productive work environment. "Businesses with a mentoring program often end up with more solid succession plans, as well as better procedures for workplace problem solving and conflict resolution," says Lauran Star, a business consultant based in Bedford, New Hamp- shire (lauranstar.com). DEVELOP SKILLS Two workplace trends are making men- toring programs more critical. The first is the retirement of baby boomers. When older people leave your workforce, they will take along their con- siderable expertise unless you have taken steps to capture it. Second, more job applicants are becoming aware of the need to improve their skills to maintain a competitive edge. As a result, they are looking to join organizations that will help them do just that. And they will want to make sure you are on the same page before they agree to work for you. "Today's applicants are telling prospective employers they want personal development in their work life," says Richard Avdoian, an employee development consultant in metropolitan St. Louis (richardavdoian. com). "It's all part of a changing business environment: As people move more rapidly between employers, they are looking ahead to their next stop." This trend is visible as early as the job interview. "Gone are the days when interviewers would ask more questions than candidates," says Avdoian. "Now, applicants are leading the way by asking for key information such as 'What does your business do to enhance and develop employees' skills? Does it offer additional education? Training?'" MENTORING VS. COACHING Does mentoring sound a lot like coaching? It's true that both initiatives attempt to improve employee performance. But they differ in their details and con- fusing the two can be costly. "Coaching is much more proactive than mentoring," explains Alan Weiss, presi- dent of Summit Consulting Group, East Greenwich, Rhode Island (alanweiss.com). "Very often a coach will reach out to an How your best employees can supercharge your staff. MENTORING Benefits of The By Phillip M. Perry A quality mentoring program will assure your business retains critical skills and expertise when good employees leave. 6 THE SHOP APRIL 2020

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