5 Reasons Small Business Owners Should Mentor Others

In an effective mentorship, the benefits go both ways.
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Act as a mentor, and positively affect your company culture by setting a proactive example for employees. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

As a small business owner, having engaged employees is critical to your small businesses success. Unfortunately, according to the latest data from Gallup, a staggering 87 percent of people are not engaged at work. One surefire way to increase productivity and employee engagement is by building relationships with employees and mentoring key members of your team.

When we think of mentoring and developing others, we often focus on how the relationship can help the person on the receiving end — the mentee. But being a mentor has its own set of benefits — for both you and your small business.

To learn more about what you can gain from being a mentor to others, NCR Silver spoke to Lori Bachman, CEO of The MentorShift Group and author of “MentorShift: A Four-Step Process to Improve Leadership Development, Engagement and Knowledge Transfer.”

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According to Lori Bachman, CEO of The MentorShift Group, mentorship is the handing of the baton from one person who knows how to do something to another person wanting to learn. (Photo: Lori Bachman)

What is mentorship?

“It’s a process of spending time, either one-on-one or with a small group, with the goal of helping that person develop so they can turn around and develop again,” explained Bachman.

Too often, she said, mentoring consists of two people meeting over coffee or sitting in an office and talking about themselves, checking it off their to-do list and moving on. She calls this model “Yacking, tracking and get sent packing.”

In her book, she promotes a “come with me” approach to mentoring, in which the mentor teaches by example and includes the mentee in meaningful learning experiences.

“The person who is doing the mentoring invites the mentee to experiences where they are going to see the mentor in action or are involved in something together,” she said. “So the process is the handing of the baton from one person who knows how to do something to another person who is really wanting to grasp and hone that skill.”

Related: 6 Ways to Find a Mentor to Help Your Business Succeed

What’s in it for me?

Effective mentorship takes both time and effort, leaving many small business owners and busy managers feeling they don’t have the bandwidth to take on a mentoring relationship. But investing time in developing others in your organization can benefit both you personally and your organization as a whole. Here’s how:

1) It creates a strong company culture

“If you’re a small business owner, everybody’s looking at you,” said Bachman. “You’re a culture creator. You are setting a cultural example for everybody in your organization that ‘This is what we’re all about.’”

By taking time to mentor members of your staff, you’re showing staff that being proactive, kind, engaged and willing to invest in others are all values you stand by personally and in your business. When employees see you living out these values, they are more likely to jump on board and be more interested in their work.

“Organizations that have had continual mentoring as a part of what they do, people stay longer. They don’t dive off the ship and go to the next company and are more engaged contributors,” she said.

Related: How to Create a Culture of Kindness in Your Small Business

2) It transfers knowledge to others that need it

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Finding time for one-on-one learning with an individual will empower them to fix problems on their own.  (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

Bachman said the biggest challenge with mentoring someone is dedicating time to the activity.

“That’s why I go back to ‘come with me’ mentoring, because you hit two targets at one time.”

Say you own a restaurant, for example, and have a meeting scheduled with a food vendor to negotiate pricing. Why not bring your mentee along with you to sit in on the meeting? Or when you need to repair one of your bar taps, have them assist as you try to fix the problem.

“We all learn from observational learning on an intellectual, emotional and even physiological level. Our brains change when we watch somebody else do something,” said Bachman. “Some simple one-to-one time with a couple of individuals, teaching them how to troubleshoot a problem, will empower them to fix problems themselves, even when you aren’t able to be present.”

Related: Solo No More: When it’s Time to Bring on Your First Employee

3) It improves your own interpersonal skills

Being a mentor also helps you develop your own interpersonal skills and helps you become a better manager for your staff.

“I’ll give you an example from my own life,” said Bachman. “I tend to be a natural encourager to people. It’s easy for me, when I mentor people, to encourage them in what they’re doing. But I’ve had a couple of mentees say to me, ‘Tell me what you think I’m doing wrong. Tell me where you think I could really grow.’ That has stretched me because now I have to pull out of myself, not just the natural encouragement part, but the confronting part as well, which helps me to grow.”

Related: How Serving Others Makes You an Exceptional Leader

4) It makes a difference in someone’s life

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Helping others advance in their career is an investment and a reward in itself. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

Also, knowing that you’re helping someone else grow and develop in their career or personal life is a reward in itself.

“No matter what anybody says, they want to leave a fingerprint on people’s lives, and there’s nothing better than having someone come up to you and say ‘You made such a difference in my life,’” she said. “You can’t measure that in dollars in cents, but that’s the warmth of learning and growing that you get to experience from somebody appreciating your investment.”

Related: When Is the Right Time to Promote an Employee?

5) It’s fun

Finally, being a mentor doesn’t have to feel like work, said Bachman.

“Mentoring is not a job. It’s a fun thing to do with somebody. I encourage people to go into the relationship with bright eyes, and do some stuff that’s fun together. If you want to keep employees engaged, you’ve got to keep them interested and enjoying what they’re doing, so make sure you keep it fun.”

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