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Mentoring Through Skills-Training: A Three-Part Process

Updated: Jul 20

You might have noticed that the traditional four-year college education is under a lot of scrutiny these days, and really has been for a few years or so. The major criticisms have to do with the application of academic coursework to the demands of a dynamic professional sector. This type of criticism is generally limited to liberal arts degrees, but many other disciplines are being reevaluated for the length of time students spend in the classroom rather than gaining on-the-job training necessary for the day-to-day use of their knowledge and talents.


The point here is that learning is ongoing for career-minded employees across all industries. A degree has always been regarded as a “foot in the door” requisite, but it seems many newly hired recent graduates find themselves inevitably scrambling to pick up the skills they’ll need to be successful in their respective positions. This might be less true of certain business degrees, but not necessarily. Commerce is a massive, extremely competitive world all its own, and finding one’s place within it has little to do with formal education in the long run.


Research has long supported the need for employee mentoring/coaching within an organization. But when this model is extended out to include both refining your employees’ core competencies and providing them with resources to develop new skills, that need becomes essential. Here’s a guide to closing skills gaps through sustained mentoring.


Data


None of this can go far as a workable policy without an objective data set to guide you. It’s possible you have a largely accurate idea of where your employees need to improve, but there are probably some details you’re missing. With the right body of organized and cogent information in hand, you can precisely zero-in on weaknesses, highlight positive points, and build a data-supported conversation outline.


Discussions


Mentoring should be jointly formal and informal. You’ll have the occasional quick check-in to provide direction or affirmation while listening to your team’s concerns or ideas, but you’ll also want to outline a structured meeting schedule and hold yourself firmly to it. It’s during these more formal conversations that you will present your platform’s data as a guide. Remove the subjective material where possible and let the data speak to where skills gaps might be undermining short-term goals or limiting advancement opportunities.


Career Pathing


By strengthening the mentor/mentee dynamic, your team members will recognize and pursue career drivers as they materialize, and in the process come to recognize the specific skills they’ll need to perform well as they advance in the organization. This will have the three-part benefit of fortifying your connection with your team, maximizing performance, and creating data-backed career paths.

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