How do you grow and nurture talent in your business? 

Mentoring is one of the many ways companies can develop internal talent

How do you grow and nurture talent in your business

Attracting top talent is always at the top of the list for growing businesses. This continues to pose a challenge for companies as employers seek to develop creative solutions to fill crucial positions and maintain productivity. However, it’s not just about attracting skilled workers, but also cultivating existing talent. By focusing on internal talent development, businesses can tap into the untapped potential of their employees, fostering loyalty and commitment while also reducing the need for external hiring. And one of the best ways to cultivate talent internally is through mentoring. Chelsey Baker, founder and CEO of National Mentoring Day took to the stage at Elite Business Live 2024 to discuss the importance of mentoring within organisations to grow and nurture talent. 

Chelsey launched National Mentoring Day in 2014 the largest celebration of mentoring in the world which takes place each year on October 27. National Mentoring Day aims to make mentoring accessible to everyone, ensuring employees of all sectors have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential through mentoring. Chelsey explained how mentoring can help foster meaningful connections across departments, improving employee retention and productivity. Not only that, mentoring also supports the mental health and well-being of workers while increasing productivity, creating happier employees, and improving performance. 

At its core, being a mentor is becoming a trusted advisor. It all boils down to making yourself available to support someone when they need it, delivering guidance that makes sense to them and nurturing a good relationship. Even though mentors have their mentee’s best interests at heart, they should avoid rescuing or fixing them, but instead empower them to navigate challenges independently. Chelsey explained: “As mentors, you shouldn’t try to rescue and fix your mentees. This is important. You don’t want to create dependency here. It’s very tempting as mentors to want to jump in because you know the answer to your mentee’s problems. You should instead empower the mentee to come to their own decision-making making, navigate challenges and obstacles rather than fix everything. We don’t give advice, we guide.” 

Avoid information overload. Do not dish out too much advice in the beginning to avoid overwhelming your mentee. It is important to know what stage your mentee is at and guide them accordingly rather than pressure them to perform beyond their capacity. Chelsey said: “Tailor your guidance. Where is the mentee now? Are they ready for the information that you’re imparting to them? The surefire way to lose a mentee is to totally overwhelm them. I was guilty of that in the beginning. I just gave them all my knowledge, and now I realise decades later, the importance of giving bit by bit until they are ready and at the right stage for the information.” 

Mentors should also be open about both their failures and triumphs, and allow themselves to be vulnerable. This will allow mentors and mentees to foster a greater connection through open communication and shared experiences. Chelsey’s advice to mentors is: “Share your vulnerability. When you create a safe space for your mentee, you allow them to open up. When you do that, you’re closing the gap between where you are as the mentor and where the mentee is. The beauty of mentoring is if you really do open up about your setbacks, your failures, and your experiences, then you really unlock hidden potential buried very deep within your mentee. They then flourish and blossom.” 

How does one get into mentoring? Firstly, identify your skills and who would benefit from your experience. And secondly, look for existing mentoring opportunities locally or within your industry. Share your skills and experiences by becoming a mentor yourself, whether through your workplace, local initiatives, or industry organisations. If not, consider implementing a mentoring program within your own workplace. Chelsey said: “What skill stack do you have and who would benefit from that? Who would you like to pass that on to? What fuels their passion? What do you like, what is your purpose? Once you start with this initial discovery session, I promise you that the rest will just fall into place. Sharing your personal experience can be very empowering as a mentor. Mentoring can be so powerful. That’s where the wisdom is transferred.”

Latifa Yedroudj
Latifa Yedroudj

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