When entering a new field of work such as construction, it’s always beneficial to have a mentor — someone that’s willing to share their experience and knowledge. Many established professionals credit mentorship as one of the most significant contributors to success.
What about the other side of that coin? How does a mentorship benefit the mentor, in addition to the mentee? More importantly, how does one develop a valuable and robust system that instills good qualities in construction teams old and new?
What Are the Benefits of Mentorship?
Before exploring the benefits, it’s essential to define what mentorship is. A common misconception, for example, is that businesses design modern mentorships to acquire cheap labor. That’s not the reality in the construction industry, where recruiting and training new workers is essential to business growth.
Mentorships in construction generally involve pairing young newcomers with established professionals. Mentors aren't always older than their students, though. Mentorship is about experience on the job, not age. Effective mentoring involves workers learning from each other and understanding each person’s unique perspectives.
Mentorship comes with several benefits for workers, including:
• Communication and leadership skills
• Hands-on experience in the workplace
• Demonstration of foreign concepts
• Internal networking opportunities
• A chance to self-reflect on growth
Mentorship can help your team not only recruit new workers, but foster leadership skills that can help your business take off in years to come.
Why Should You Become a Mentor?
Most Fortune 500 companies see mentoring as a vital development tool, and 71% have a mentoring program in place. According to experts, employees with mentors earn more money, are better socialized and stay productive. They deal with stress better and get promoted quickly. An effective program can go a long way in helping a business retain excellent employees, improving long-term strength.
Mentors see benefits, too. According to a 2006 study of 1,000 employees, mentors were promoted six times more often than standard employees. The retention rate for employees was also higher — 72% compared to 49%.
Think about how working with newer employees can expand your perspective. An established professional, for example, may need to stay on top of technology trends in an ever-changing industry. Younger employees are more likely to have exposure to the computerization, robotics and sustainability initiatives that can help your business expand.
The key takeaway? Mentorships benefit everyone involved, including the companies that promote them. Teaching skills and relaying knowledge — in both directions — improves the effectiveness of the entire team.
How to Establish Strong Mentorship Programs
Encouraging mentorships is simple. It’s about pairing up relevant professionals under the right conditions. The real challenge is choosing the ideal mentors to work with the inexperienced. Matching up the right personalities and skill levels is one element. For example, you don't want to match a newbie up with someone who just mastered the basics.
To establish strong mentorships within a team, you should:
• Pair the right people: As previously stated, try to pair professionals with similar personalities when applicable. You should also assign a mentor to someone in the same line of work.
• Find motivated people: For any partnership to work, both people must be equally motivated. Make sure everyone involved wants to further their craft, whether they plan to teach or advance their careers. Mentors should only invest time in students they believe in.
• Create a challenge: Mentors must continue to challenge their students. Provide a realistic experience and build vital skills. Both parties should spend time outside their comfort zones, particularly when it comes to learning new tasks and responsibilities.
• Open availability: Mentors must always be available for guidance and advice. Establish a system that properly values and compensates mentor efforts.
• Set goals and milestones: As with most tasks, there must be a finish line. One of the first things a mentor should do is establish a defined purpose for the relationship. Is the plan to help the student earn a promotion? Are both parties focused on learning new skills or talents?
• Keep failure an option: It’s important to remember that there will be failures and successes. The mentor is exploring the best ways to teach, and the student is new to the field. It's crucial then to identify on a case-by-case basis what works and what doesn’t, as everyone is unique.
• Train the trainers: Mentors should have opportunities to learn and further their craft, just as students do. Ensure they're sharing and teaching appropriate methods, ideas and strategies. It never hurts to have mentors brush up on their knowledge.
• Have fun: People tend to learn more when they're enjoying themselves. Both the mentor and student should enjoy spending time together. If fun is lacking, you may need to try something new. Not all people work well together.
Practicing Mentorship in the Construction Industry
A proper mentorship requires an effort from all parties involved, from the newest hire to upper management. The right set-up will further knowledge and install strong learning foundations.
In construction and development, incompetence and negligence can lead to disastrous consequences. Ultimately, mentorships help new candidates navigate challenges in the field.
Curious how young recruits respond to stronger mentorship? Guidance can help students and new workers launch a construction career. Positive change and business growth rely on the connection between experienced leaders and ambitious mentees.