“Getting the most out of life isn’t about how much you keep for yourself but how much you pour into others.” David Stoddard’s eloquent quote shows what lies at the heart of any mentoring initiative. Roughly 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs and 67% of businesses report an increase in productivity due to mentoring. That’s reason enough for managers to have mentoring programs for their teams.
However, a form of mentoring that might hold more appeal over the conventional approach – peer mentoring.
- Unlike conventional mentoring programs, where a mentor and mentee are at different stages of their career, in peer mentoring, both people involved are in similar stages of their career. Instead of a teacher-student dynamic, where one receives knowledge and guidance from the other, here the exchange of knowledge is mutual. As they bond over similar experiences, peer mentors and mentees tend to understand each other’s problems and limitations well.
- This form of mentoring also facilitates frank communication. In conventional mentoring, there could be a power differential because the mentor is senior to and more experienced than the mentee. This might curb open and honest communication between them. In peer mentoring, apart from a similarity of age and experience levels, a more relaxed definition of the mentor and mentee’s roles enables both of them to feel more comfortable about discussing the challenges they face and learn from each other.
More reasons to implement it now
Peer mentoring has become more significant given the uncertain times we live in. A recent survey in the Netherlands reported that 70% of corporate employees experienced stress and tension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many people are working online, some are making the transition back to the office space or dealing with hybrid environments and changing demands of their work and personal life. Managing these dynamic demands can be challenging, especially for new joiners who usually need help finding their ground. A peer mentor to show the ropes can be invaluable in such times.
Peer mentoring also offers managers and organizations other advantages.
- Underutilization of talent and stagnancy are some of the topmost reasons people decide to resign from an organization. Personal growth, therefore, motivates people to join an organization or continue working there. Personalized feedback from a peer mentor can help employees gain the gentle guidance needed to further their growth, thereby reducing attrition for firms.
- Moreover, such programs nurture leadership skills among team members, promote knowledge sharing, encourage stronger inter-personal relationships and build a sense of fulfillment among employees.
All these gains can be made through considerably low investment, in the form of a peer mentoring program. For, as the saying goes, the best way to learn is to teach.