Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Has your company considered launching an in-house mentoring program?

Perhaps you've been prompted by the frustrations of employee turnover, or the very competitive marketplace for new talent. Whatever your inspiration, you're not alone. A recent survey by PwC shows only 39 percent of CEOs are "very confident" about the growth prospects of their company. Talent—locating, hiring, and cultivating it—is a looming concern.

Mentoring programs can offer forward-thinking companies a leg up in their industry. The benefits? Lower turnover, decreased talent acquisition costs, and an investment in the company on a personal level for every participating employee.

But the drawbacks? As with any plan of action, there's the need for commitment, upkeep, ongoing evaluation, and follow-through. A mentoring program could give your company a key for sustained growth—and put you in that 39 percent of CEOs who are confident about their growth. Just ask Hybrid Salon owner Anthony Santini.

Mentoring to help employee transition

When Santini was working as a stylist before opening a salon of his own, he noticed something every time a new employee was hired. “There was this transition period where they were trying to figure things out. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't, Contently 1 and a lot of mishaps occurred along the way."

Frustration rose among the ranks of the more-seasoned stylists, and they often didn't stay long enough to form any sense of loyalty to the salon. Hence, they would end up right back where they started—having to hire a brand-new employee.

There's always a transition period for every new hire, and mentoring can help ease that transition, shorten the learning curve, and speed your ability to cultivate loyal, enthusiastic employees. So when Santini opened his doors in 2007, he implemented his own mentoring program from the beginning—with successful results.

The surprising benefits of mentoring

If your dream team is powered by a unified set of goals, mentoring programs can help make this a reality—something Santini can speak to firsthand. He credits his eight-year old program with helping him build a solid culture with the same team goals, skill sets, and business knowledge. This also allows him to hire less-experienced stylists who show a willingness to learn, which makes the hunt for experienced stylists to service his salon clientele a nonissue.

There's also been another—and more surprising—benefit for Santini as a business owner. “I've been able to pass this mentoring program on to more seasoned stylists so they can continue to grow my business, their business, and the associate's business," he shares.

Another surprising benefit is that there's no competition over clients because they've all been trained in the same way, and many guests see multiple people in the salon. "When a staff member decides to leave, oftentimes many of their clients will stay at the salon," Santini says.

A good mentoring program can align employees with company values from their first day as a team member. By involving all employees in the mentoring process, business leaders like Santini free themselves up to focus on day-to-day operations and growth strategies instead of ongoing talent acquisition—a frustration shared by many business owners who are embroiled in the nonstop world of hiring and retention.

Launching your mentoring program: Best advice

Santini has eight years of success with his own program, and he has great tips for any company seeking to launch their own in-house mentoring program that involve creating systems, identifying trainers, and maintaining consistency.

His salon has created unique handbooks and training systems for the front desk, stylists, managers, new stylists, and even one for himself. This way, everything is easily taught and passed on. It also makes anyone replaceable which—believe it or not— makes employees feel safe instead of threatened. Because new employees can be trained quickly, the stylists are assured of a smooth transition.

"As soon as your company starts to grow, keep an eye out for those who put in the extra time helping others," advises Santini. Find a way to include training and mentoring as part of their job description. This way, you can build a solid cache of team members who will head up your mentoring program. Always position mentoring roles in your company as a reward, not a burden.

But don't forget that as the owner, it's on you to keep an eye on your mentoring program. Santini points out that there's no reason to establish systems if you're not going to use them. “Consistency means checking in on the new training that's happening," he says. Establish regular review processes for your mentors and mentees, and understand how the systems you've created are being taught.

Mentoring programs an ongoing process and require diligent upkeep, but the benefits are clear. When you commit to making every employee a valuable part of your company from the beginning, they can work together towards growth as a strong team they all know and trust.


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