- Managers can facilitate connections and peer learning for team members to promote and set up mentorship opportunities.
- Welcome everyone on the team to mentor others, creating an atmosphere of connection with team-building activities.
- Encourage experienced team members to act as mentors and guide others in their growth.
- Don’t forget that managers can also be mentors, setting goals with their direct reports to create focus and direction.
Listen: Build a team that fosters learning and mentorship.
Managing a remote team offers unique challenges, especially when it comes to cultivating an environment that promotes growth and development. Despite the distance and lack of face-to-face interactions, creating a culture of mentorship is still possible. As a manager, taking the initiative to build an environment where mentorship can flourish will lead to significant benefits for both the company and its employees.
Here are some recommendations for managers to encourage and support mentoring throughout your team so remote employees can reach their full potential.
Promote mentorship across your team by facilitating connections and peer learning
If you’re a manager, you play an important role in fostering mentorship opportunities for your direct reports. To start, you can help team members raise their visibility and open doors to new opportunities. For example, you could invite an employee to a meeting where they will get exposure to senior leaders, help them make connections across departments, or sponsor them for a stretch project. Beyond visibility with other leaders, there are also ways you can encourage mentorship relationships within your own team.
Welcome everyone on your team to mentor others
Team mentoring is a great way to build up skills and perspectives. Our team meets weekly as a group to go through announcements, review processes, and discuss any projects that may need extra support. Everyone can be involved, whether they’re offering help or developing new ideas—senior team members are just as likely to receive advice from their junior counterparts. It’s all about learning together and pushing each other forward.
Create an atmosphere of connection
Keeping a remote team connected and engaged takes dedication. It’s not just about managing tasks or progress, but making sure there are opportunities to socially connect within the group.
On my team, we finish off our weekly meeting with a team-building exercise. It could be anything from reminiscing about everyone’s favorite place they’ve traveled to sharing high school prom photos—the opportunities for topics are endless. Each week someone new is nominated to lead the group activity for all of us, which helps build trust and collaboration as we work together toward common goals. As people answer questions and joke around together, it really helps encourage participation as well as make sure that everybody feels comfortable being a part of the team.
With the help of engaging activities, everyone gets to express their thoughts and ideas, regardless of if they’re shy or more outspoken. We end our sessions with laughter and good vibes. With team members who are working remotely, this has created a stronger team environment and helped build a better support system for each other.
Encourage experienced team members to be mentors
Mentorship can benefit mentors just as much as the folks they are mentoring. Being a mentor can help employees gain new perspectives from their mentee. It also strengthens their leadership and coaching abilities. As a manager, invite experienced employees to take on a mentorship role in order to help guide junior members of your team. Make sure you understand each person’s strengths and interests so you can pair them up with someone who they’ll be able to coach, while helping them reach their own goals.
Don’t forget that managers can be mentors too
Not all managers act as mentors for their direct reports, but those who do will find that it can take your employees’ performance and engagement to the next level. Plus, it feels good to help your employees reach their goals and grow in their careers.
Setting goals with employees and people you’re mentoring helps give them the direction and tools they need to reach their full potential. When done properly, goal setting gives people a clear vision for success and builds their confidence. To set effective goals, it’s important to start by talking about what’s most important to them. This helps create the buy-in and motivation that will be needed to finish tasks along the way. With goal setting, mentees will have the focus and direction they need to take on challenges and grow as people.
For my team, I meet with each member biweekly, and this is when we seek out goals together. We look for areas where they need support, help them identify knowledge gaps, and provide training opportunities so we can continue growing our skill sets across the board. These conversations also prompt opportunities for team members to be more visible. It’s important to me that everyone on the team feels empowered and knows their opinion is respected, which encourages independence and growth.
Mentoring is still possible in a remote world
Mentoring is still all about relationships, and although we’re not always in the same physical space, it is still possible to build and maintain connections with others. It requires more attention and effort, but if done right, it can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. With dedication to creating an engaging and supportive environment, mentorship opportunities can continue to help talent thrive and grow their careers in a remote world.