How Mentoring Can Decrease Employee Turnover

BY Kathy Crosett
Featured image for “How Mentoring Can Decrease Employee Turnover”

Employers and hiring managers have been asking the same question for well over a year: Where are all the qualified job applicants? In many cases, they’ve received only a few applications for their open positions. To avoid the stressful situation of not having enough team members to get the job done, managers should adjust their strategy and try to decrease employee turnover. One way to accomplish this goal is to improve the mentoring process at the organization.

Put Your Mentee in Charge and You’ll Decrease Employee Turnover

Almost every business has put a mentoring process in place. But few managers monitor how well these programs are actually working. It’s easy to see how a mentoring relationship can fail in terms of achieving the ultimate goal, which should be to help the mentees progress in their career. Too often, the mentoring relationship is all about helping a new employee fit into the company and their position.

Mentors know they need to help their mentees learn new skills. Mentors might start the relationship in full teacher mode, laying out lesson plans and checking frequently on their mentee’s work. This arrangement might help the mentee feel supported. Depending on their work style, the mentee might start to depend on their mentor. And then the mentor sets the learning pace and makes suggestions. As a result, the mentee might not take the initiative to move forward on their own.

To ensure a more successful outcome, Diane Brink, a senior fellow at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, encourages mentors to let their mentees “own the relationship.” Mentees should have goals, not only for their current position, but also for future positions, especially within the company. In analyzing the relationship, Brinks points out, “As a mentor, your role is to help guide and facilitate how that individual solves a problem or tackles an opportunity.”

Personalize the Advice You Give

Roughly 20% of sales professionals told us their team would be more successful if they had more one-​on-​one coaching personalized to their specific needs. Often, the sales manager delivers that coaching. If they’re fortunate, their organization has invested in a psychometric assessment platform that pinpoints each individual’s work style and provides insights into their motivations. Mentors can also use assessment data to understand the work environments and positions that will best suit their mentees.

As Carter Cast, a faculty member at Kellogg and a previous guest on one of our Manage Smarter shows explains, mentees should think of themselves as coaches who are “there to unlock the potential of the person.”

Offer Empathy

Our research shows that nearly 30% of sales professionals will leave an organization because of a lack of opportunity to advance or because the company didn’t seem to care about them. You can decrease employee turnover by ensuring that a team member feels supported from their first day on the job. If your organization is among the many that have embraced a hybrid work situation, new employees need a good mentor now more than ever. A good mentor can explain how to navigate the company’s formal and informal networks.

Once a mentee has conquered the challenges of their new position, and they’ve identified where they’d like to go next, mentors must be prepared to listen. Some mentees may have trouble articulating what they want. At times, other mentees will fail to achieve what they thought would be a high-​profile success. It’s during these times, says Laura Francis, that showing empathy is critical.

But remember that your ultimate goal is to help mentees mature in their career by developing their skills and critical thinking. When a mentee struggles, don’t be afraid to point out how they could shift their approach the next time around.  From those tough conversations, your mentees will reflect on the changes they need to make and on steps they can take to benefit themselves and the organization.

Photo by Nappy on Pexels.