Informal learning is becoming an increasingly important strategy for improving performance in the workplace. One of the techniques used in informal learning is mentoring and coaching, which provides ongoing performance support from an experienced person to a less-experienced person. Formal mentoring programs can exist either within the workplace or outside the workplace.

Mentoring benefits everyone. Research shows that mentoring partnerships help develop a wide range of skills, including leadership, that increases morale and job satisfaction. Organizations benefit through the development of their employees, increased productivity and efficiencies, reduced costs and employee turnover, and a positive impact to the bottom line.

TIPS ON BEING AN EFFECTIVE MENTOR

Establish goals for the partnership: Discuss what each partner hopes to accomplish through the mentoring relationship and what outcomes you will work toward. Focus the relationship on the mentee's needs.

Set regular mentoring meetings: If possible, hold meetings away from the work environment. This helps you be less formal and gain a broader perspective; it's important to treat the relationship with formality and professionalism.

Be honest and open: The mentoring relationship is one of mutual trust and respect. If you aren't honest, the relationship loses value.

Work toward sustainable improvements rather than quick fixes: Use the mentoring meetings to exchange views and provide guidance. Don't provide immediate answers to a problem. You wouldn't design a performance improvement solution that way. Use your skills of smart questioning, active listening, and value-added feedback to guide the mentee toward achieving his/her goals.

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