Virtual mentoring

Why virtual mentoring leads to more success and less mistakes in new hires and recent grads

Dennis Kyle

December 24, 2020

Mentorship Makes a Difference

Having a mentor is a big deal, especially when it comes to entering a company or the workforce as a whole for the first time. According to a CNBC-SurveyMonkey poll, 91% of workers who have a mentor are satisfied with their jobs, while 57% say they are very satisfied.[1] In that same poll, workers who had a mentor were better paid (79% vs. 69%) and less likely to quit their jobs (89% vs. 75% than those who did not have a mentor.[2] Being able to establish a strong mentor/mentee relationship can have a noticeable impact for your company.

What is Virtual Mentoring?

As times change, demands on time rise and more functions are going virtual, some are turning to Virtual Mentoring to supplement or sometimes replace traditional mentoring. Virtual Mentoring is much the same as regular mentoring, where a more experienced individual acts as guide and teacher to a less experienced individual in a general or specific area, oftentimes in a school or work setting. The major difference is virtual mentorship happens mostly or entirely online, usually through regular email correspondence, video calls and other forms of communication.

As new generations of students and workers continue to adapt and evolve with the latest technological trends, it’s becoming more important to have easier access to services like mentorship. Virtual mentoring has continued to grow in popularity, especially in recent times as more activities have moved onto online platforms. It offers the benefits of being able to meet nearly anywhere, anytime as long as you have an internet connection.

How is Virtual Mentoring different than traditional Mentoring?

While the idea of Virtual Mentoring remains mostly the same as traditional Mentoring, there are some differences worth pointing out.

Less face-to-face contact

Because of the ‘virtual’ nature of Virtual Mentorship, you may rarely or sometimes never meet your mentor or mentee in person. This can be disconcerting to people who rely strongly on in-person contact in order to be able to better connect with someone and interpret social queues. Although video chat is a common method to communicate, it still doesn’t replace being in the physical presence of another human being and the intangibles that can bring to the relationship.

Technical Issues

While traditional mentoring is usually conducted in-person without much reliance on any specific technology, Virtual Mentoring requires an internet connection, computers with webcams, microphones, speakers and meeting applications, among other things. If the internet goes down or someone experiences technical problems with one or more of the aforementioned items, it can detract from the mentor call. Many of these issues can be mitigated, but not entirely removed from the equation.

Distractions

Traditional mentoring usually happens in an agreed upon space that is as private or removed from distractions as needed. Sometimes Virtual Mentoring doesn’t have that luxury if the mentee’s only access to a computer is in a public library, or the mentor works from home and also juggles parenting duties simultaneously. It’s important to prepare for distractions and establish an agreement between mentor and mentee about what’s accepting during their meetings.

Why is Virtual Mentoring so successful for new hires?

Virtual Mentoring has been shown to be very successful in particular for new hires and recent graduates. This may be an appealing prospect for existing mentors who wish to expand their clientele or companies who are trying to better onboard and train younger generations of workers in an ever-evolving economy.

  1. Provides a connection with a real person
  2. Accessibility
  3. Greater likelihood of finding relevant mentor
  4. On-Demand Assistance
  5. Provides an outlet when in-person meeting is not possible

Provides a connection with a real person

Books, computer applications and internet articles are great, but nothing can really replace live interaction with a real person who you can relate to and learn from. Often new hires and recent grads have little to no work experience related to the job they just obtained, so being able to get mentorship is critical to help them avoid bad habits and develop and strong understanding of the requirements for the position.

Being able to discuss your challenges with someone who has been through similar situations, especially when just starting at a new company/position is critical to helping the mentee feel like they can handle the challenges and fit into the company culture. These are intangibles that pre-written pamphlets and computer training courses can’t really account for in the same way.

Accessibility

Virtual Mentoring has the potential to be more convenient and accessible than traditional mentoring because you can meet from any location with internet access whether it’s during business hours or not. This allows mentors and mentees the flexibility to schedule calls when it’s most suitable for them and

Additionally, because there are so many ways to connect online, if one encounters technical issues or isn’t in their usual set up, there’s a strong possibility they can still use a different computer setup or use their mobile phone to meet instead.

Greater likelihood of finding a relevant mentor

Because barriers such as commute time and office location are not applicable in a virtual mentoring setting, it’s much easier to be able to find ways to connect the mentee to the right mentor for them. The mentee is no longer stuck with whomever happens to be around.

This can have a massive positive effect on the mentee when they find the right match because they’re more likely to feel that mentor “gets” them and help them with their questions and issues.

For recent grads and new hires, they’re likely to feel very isolated when first entering a new job where most people may already be established in teams and have existing relationships. Providing a mentor to help connect these new hires to others can open the door to team building and better integration into the company’s culture.

On-demand Assistance

Sometimes traditional mentorship visits can be few and far between, which may be to the detriment of the relationship and the mentee if they aren’t able to get the help they need when they need it.

Virtual Mentoring provides the opportunity to more frequently interact with each other, which in turn should help both sides feel like they’re getting more benefit out of the mentorship.

Provides an outlet when in-person mentoring is not possible

Sometimes you’re just not able to meet in-person even if you could under previous circumstances. If you’re a citizen of the world during this challenging year of 2020, you are probably aware of how much COVID-19 has upended our daily lives, including and especially our work life. For many people, work is an integral part of their routine, and to suddenly be unable to work or see their friends and co-workers can be greatly distressing.

Many younger individuals may be living alone for the first time and may not have anyone else to talk with outside of work, which can lead to mental health issues that no one else may be aware of. Having the opportunity to chat with a mentor online gives them someone else to relate to during this challenging time in history, and to know they’re not alone.

Virtual mentoring doesn’t replace traditional methods of assistance, but it may be that one lifeline someone needs to help them reach out and get the greater help they need. Keeping that mentoring connection helps maintain a small portion of that routine that so many people use to stay focused and balanced in their lives.

How can I incorporate Virtual Mentoring into my business?

You may be interested in adding Virtual Mentorship into your own business but aren’t sure how to do so. Although each company’s situation is different, here are a few items most businesses will need to successfully create a virtual mentorship program

  1. Mentors
  2. Training
  3. Virtual Meeting Application

Mentors

As one might expect from mentorship, you will require someone to be able to mentor individuals who need guidance. However, it’s not as simple as just plunking down anyone to act as a mentor, especially to new hires and recent grads who are unfamiliar with the work landscape.

Vetting out truly high quality mentor candidates can sometimes be a lot of work, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor because of the payoff the mentees will receive from someone who is engaged, cares about them and has the tools and training to help them succeed.

Training

Speaking of training, this another big area that needs to be explored around adding Virtual Mentorship to your business. It’s not enough to just take a mentor and start lining up mentees for them. It’s important to provide both sides with training around expectations of the mentorship, how to fit the mentorship within the guidelines of the company and how to actually conduct the mentorship virtually.

This might require designing training from scratch, if something does not already exist. If you need help understanding how best to design training for virtual mentorship or other situations, please reach out to us at Positive Results™ and we’d be happy to assist you.

Virtual Meeting Application

As mentioned, one of the most important items to train on is how to use the virtual meeting application(s) for mentors and mentees to hold their calls. This first requires you to have done your due diligence in researching the best meeting application to use for virtual mentorship.

Perhaps your company already has a communication tool in place (or if this is your first foray into virtual meeting tools, you might want to contact Positive Results™ for assistance). In either situation, it’s important to understand the tool yourself so you can determine if it will meet the needs of the Virtual Mentorship, and if so, how best to utilize it to that end.

Once you have implemented your virtual meeting application of choice and provided the training to mentors and mentees, you should now in a better position to start your virtual mentorship program.

Final Thoughts

Virtual Mentorship is becoming a powerful way for new hires and recent grads to connect with experienced, likeminded mentors who can help them adjust to a new company or environment, especially during these challenging times when in-person gatherings are few and far between.

The power of Virtual Mentorship comes from its ability to provide a connection with a real person, who is a good fit for the mentee, in a flexible manner, to ensure the best possible chance of the connection being beneficial for both parties and the business as a whole. This can increase the likelihood for the worker sticking with your company and being more successful at their job.

Positive Results™ supports virtual mentorship and believes that through finding the right tools and providing the right training, one can better help mentors and mentees connect and succeed. We can help you develop a Virtual Mentoring program for your firm.

 

Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions

440.499.4944

https://PositiveResults.com

 

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/16/nine-in-10-workers-who-have-a-mentor-say-they-are-happy-in-their-jobs.html

[2] Ibid

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