Help Them GROW – How to Turn “Survivor” Managers into Meaningful Mentors?

So let’s start with the most basic question – why? Why should managers be mentors for their employees?

Much has been said about the importance of employee engagement, and it is now widely agreed that organizations should strive for a high level of employee engagement. Employee engagement serves as a foundation for employee retention, as well as ongoing development and professional improvement which leads to an increase in organizational outputs.

We already provided much information about how to generate employee engagement, and even published an entire guide on the subject. One of our favorite ways, which provides excellent results over and over again, is to provide employees with means to develop themselves – from courses (JOLT, for example) to a framework that encourages intra-organizational entrepreneurship. Another way, which is the best way in our opinion, is to do so through ‘meaningful management’.

A meaningful manager is one whose presence and methods make it possible to connect employees’ interest to grow, acquire new skills and to improve their performance with the company’s growth and increase in scope and quality of outputs. One of the means to cultivate meaningful managers in an organization is to turn them into mentors – business and life coaches for their employees, to guide and assist them in a process we named GROW.

How to turn your managers into mentors?

Start by talking. Managers must hold dedicated meetings with employees to motivate and guide them to achieve specific goals.

What kind of goals? Any goal your employee wishes to achieve as part of their work, with an emphasis on goals that will lead to a synergy between their personal development and the company’s development. For example, learning a new programming language will enable the team to improve a certain feature; establishing good work relationships with the neighboring team will speed up work and make it more pleasant; managing a QA automation project will set the foundations for improving the organization’s development processes.

The bottom line is that a goal can be related to improving employee performance, new professional skills they wish to acquire and even improving soft skills that will ultimately contribute to the desired outcome.

So what is the GROW process? Managers gradually guide employees through the various stages to help them formulate the right course of action. This allows for a broader view of their goal, a sense of engagement and an understanding of the goal’s impact on them and on the organization.

GOAL – The manager helps the employee identify a goal they want to achieve (specifically one that the employee wishes to achieve –  not the manager. Commitment to a goal starts with a sense of engagement).

REALITY – The manager helps the employee understand their starting point. Employees must have a clear grasp of their strengths and weaknesses, in order to have the broadest picture when choosing their goal.

OPTIONS – The manager guides the employee so that they may choose the best way for them to achieve their goal.

WAY FORWARD – Finally, the manager assists the employee in formulating a plan of action with a well-defined schedule and significant milestones which they will monitor together.

That’s it? Can we congratulate our new mentor?

Well, some of us do this almost naturally while others need to acquire some skills that will enable them to manage such a process with an employee.

The key to the success of the process is mostly dependent on the relationship between employee and manager. First and foremost, a manager must ask whether their employee feels that they, their manager, really want them to succeed. A belief among employees that their manager cares, will lead to a sense of partnership allowing employees to commit and promote goals out of internal motivation and not because “they told me to improve”.

The good news is that relationships are something you can work on! Personalities aren’t easily changed but behaviors certainly are. This means that eventually, anyone can become a meaningful manager for their employees.

All your managers need in order to become good mentors are managerial tools that will position them as guiding figures that your employees feel they can rely on. In this process, your managers will acquire communication tools such as asking questions effectively, providing feedback and guidance, as well as tools for planning, control and systemic perception.

It may seem a bit strange at first, maybe even farfetched and unnatural; but then, the second time, it’s not that strange anymore, and later on, almost magically, your managers’ ability to manage employees takes a leap forward, and positive change is present and felt. Your managers become life coaches, who motivate their employees and contribute significantly to the organization.

A large high-tech company that hired our services, commissioned this coaching-for-managers program as an engaging process that provides managers with advanced tools to help employees grow and feel significant. At the same time, this process drives employees, provides them with a positive challenge and increases overall output.

We often provide organizations with managerial development tools that address the basics – time management, feedback, management approach, management routines and more. These are important issues; however, there’s also the next step – an added value and advanced tools for contemporary management. A type of management that promotes employee independence and provides them with positive challenges. Now is the time to introduce coaching and mentoring as an advanced management tool and witness a significant change and growth among your managers, your teams and, of course, your organization.

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