Mentoring Remotely: How to Make Relationships Thrive
Throughout the pandemic, employees have found themselves dealing with a series of unexpected situations. While opinions of working remotely vary depending on the individual circumstances of the workforce, the migration out of the traditional office setting has presented new challenges. Pivoting from daily, in-person connections with colleagues and peers in the office has been one of these unexpected challenges for employees to navigate. For many, the mentor/mentee relationship presents a tremendous opportunity to nurture and expand their professional skills. Often this relationship develops during those structured and unstructured moments in the office. With the migration to remote work, it can feel like a significant loss for some employees. It’s important to remind employees that despite working remotely, cultivating a mentor/mentee relationship that encourages growth and learning with colleagues is still possible.
Knowing it’s Possible
Few can argue that the while the remote work environment has many benefits, it also presents new challenges ranging from homeschooling children to feelings of isolation and monotony. Working from home can feel like a whole new ball game. However, it is important to remember that despite this new working landscape, mentorship is still possible. The reality is this shift can be a great opportunity to grow these relationships because it requires more thought and consideration. While the former “traditional” water-cooler moments may be inaccessible at this time, there are still ways to make these connections and foster opportunities for professional growth and development.
Despite prior beliefs, a successful mentor/mentee relationship does not require a formal setting or workplace to be successful. In fact, many experts believe this pivot to remote working is not an obstacle at all because of our access to various technological platforms. Mark Settle, author of “Truth from the Valley: A Practical Primer on IT Management,” says this simplifies the situation.
Among the tools mentors and mentees can leverage are video meeting sites like Whereby and Zoom or virtual mentorship sites like Guider, which can be a tremendous asset in connecting. Also, social media sites like LinkedIn serve as a built-in archive of potential mentors.
The Next Generation
This paradigm shift in working remotely during the pandemic will ultimately result in employees continuing to embrace new methods of working long after the pandemic has ended. Many organizations have already explored flexible work models, whether through co-working space or agile work environments. Because of the diversity in our workplaces, many employees are digital natives with heightened levels of adaptability. These employees will have a greater capacity to understand how to tap into the knowledge base of leadership without connecting in person.
In the future, organizations should consider utilizing a virtual mentorship program during the onboarding process in an effort to encourage collaboration and communication as soon as a new employee starts.
Reaping the Rewards
It’s no secret that fostering another individual’s development is an incredibly rewarding experience. In fact, 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence as a result. Mentorship also aids networking and helps us build new connections. While the path to a successful mentorship may not be as easily sketched out as it was in the traditional workplace, it’s still one that’s attainable.
As we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of this pandemic, employees are finding new and exciting ways to engage with their team members. Whether it’s through a mentoring app or simply a traditional phone call, it’s clear that people are willing to put the work in in order to connect with their colleagues. As a result, both parties can enjoy the growth and learning that comes with this rewarding relationship.