Virtual Mentoring: How to Be a Great Virtual Mentor

A recent study by HR research Institute Report and Infographic states that 70% of employees who receive coaching perform better at the workplace, have better relationships, and can communicate effectively.

In the last two years, the pandemic has completely overhauled the way organisations work and operate in the digitally connected environment. The new business models call for a flexible, adaptable, and inclusive approach for connecting, collaborating, and engaging employees working on projects from multiple geographies. Employees working from remote locations face a multitude of challenges and find it difficult to get a virtual mentor to resolve their issues and lay down a foundation for growth and development. For new employees, lack of professional relationships and focussed mentoring programs pose a great challenge to their self-growth.


In this tumultuous time, it is the responsibility of the organizational leaders to engage with their employees and find innovative solutions to offer virtual mentoring sessions in a scheduled manner. Leaders should think of ways to find answers to questions like; how to create an inclusive culture for a diverse and dynamic workforce in a virtual setup? And how to ensure effective reskilling and upskilling of employees in a virtual environment?

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Virtual mentoring sessions not just offer effective learning and development, but also provide a constructive approach to create meaningful employee relationships and bonding in the organization. Hence, by adopting virtual mentoring best practices, organizations can scale up their business activities and ensure the continuous growth and development of their employees.

Before we get to the tips to become an effective virtual mentor, let’s understand the importance of virtual mentoring.

Also read: How to Promote Employee Wellbeing at Workplace

Importance of Virtual Mentoring

At the onset of the pandemic, organizations throughout the world faced an array of challenges while remodelling their mentoring programs from face-to-face to virtual sessions. Many firms have recognized mentorship as the key element in keeping the employees engaged and focussed on the organizational goals. 

The importance of virtual mentorship lies in the essence that it offers flexibility and convenience to both a virtual mentor and mentee to collaborate and discuss. Well defined virtual mentoring programs help employees stay concentrated on their learning and growth and contribute to the changing needs of the organization. 

To create successful virtual mentoring programs, organizations need to ponder upon the challenges faced by the virtual mentor and the mentee and offer actionable solutions for better collaboration. Leaders need to understand the goals of mentoring and incorporate them. 

Also read: Mentoring Goals: Examples for Inspiration

The below points highlight the importance of digital mentoring in the hybrid era:

  • Employee Engagement: Virtual mentoring assists in employee engagement and provides a mechanism for healthy relationship building.
  • Focus on Organizational Goals: With strategic implementation, mentoring programs can help employees stay focussed on organizational goals and also increase their productivity.
  • Upskilling and Reskilling: Virtual training sessions offer a great advantage to employees for reskilling and upskilling at their convenience. It helps in creating a skilled workforce ready to take up new projects.
  • Inclusivity: Organizations need to focus on creating an inclusive and safe environment for employees. Virtual sessions help in fulfilling these goals.
  • Employee Retention: A major focus of these programs is to improve employee retention by offering growth opportunities to employees.
  • Dispute and Grievance Management: Virtual mentoring sessions are an effective way to manage disputes among employees and teams.
  • Avoiding Costly Mistakes: A survey shows that 84% of CEOs have circumvented costly mistakes because of mentoring.

 

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Tips to Becoming an Effective Virtual Mentor

Mentoring is an indispensable part of an organizational structure, and leaders put a great emphasis on the mentors to help drive the results through effective mentoring sessions. Mentoring is not just a technical activity of connecting with the employees but is a commitment towards the organization in creating a foundation of a skilled, adaptable, dynamic, and healthy workforce. 

The unprecedented shift to the virtual setup has created a few hiccups for mentors, but by following the virtual mentoring best practices, mentors can become more effective at delivering virtual sessions. Check out the following tips that will help in unloading the full potential of digital mentoring.

Communicate Expectations

Result-driven and focussed sessions can help boost employee productivity. The mentor needs to understand the audience and should get in touch with them before the session delivery to understand their expectations from the program. 

Using email, text, and other asynchronous communication mediums can help in outlining the expectations and modelling the mentoring session to deliver as per the learners’ objectives. The process also helps in avoiding any scenario of mismatch between the attendees’ learning objectives and the program deliverables.

Plan and Strategize Digital Mentoring Sessions

No one wants to waste their time in a session that doesn’t deliver as per the goals of the program. Proper planning and strategizing the online session can save plenty of time for both parties and will showcase sincerity and respect towards everyone’s busy schedule. Thus, it is imperative for the virtual mentor to set SMART goals to steer the direction of the session and deliver as per the attendees’ expectations. 

Setting SMART-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals will also help in measuring the success of the program.

Also read: How to use storytelling in your next mentoring session

Embrace Digital Mentoring Technology

Tech-empowered organizations focus on providing virtual sessions by using a series of tools that offer a holistic and open climate to learn and interact. These tools help in increasing the learning impact by enhancing the focus span of learners and binding them to the sessions through frequent check-ins and interactions. Infused with artificial intelligence and gamification, these tools offer fun and interactive learning to the users. 

A virtual mentor should get accustomed to digital technology and plan the sessions around the tools to get the undivided attention of the learners. 

Utilize Digital Mentoring Platform

The effectiveness of a mentoring program can be further enhanced by using a mentoring software like Mentoring Complete. The software provides a robust and user-friendly platform to connect and engage with the participants. Also, advanced technical features like precision matching, anytime mentoring, and program design and implementation increase the capabilities of the mentoring program. 

A virtual mentor should utilize mentoring software to design, plan, and execute the sessions for progressive outcomes. The software helps in measuring the success of a program by offering real-time dashboards, analytics, and reports. It is a good practice to understand the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the software to utilize it for mentoring sessions. Some of the distinctive capabilities offered by mentoring software are as follows:

  • Precision matching between a mentor and a mentee with the help of artificial intelligence.
  • Easy onboarding of mentors and mentees leading to fast implementation
  • Advance reporting features to measure the success of the program
  • Web-based anytime mentoring tool for just in time mentoring
  • Fun and engaging way to harness existing knowledge in the organization

Also read: Mentoring Complete: A Robust Online Mentoring Software

Robust Feedback Mechanism

The crux of a virtual mentoring session is to bring results, and without a strategic feedback mechanism, the session might not fulfil its objectives. It has been observed that the lack of feedback can lead to disengagement and losing the learning focus of attendees. It is therefore crucial for a virtual mentor to prepare a plan to provide constructive feedback to each attendee. 

It is important to note that in a professional environment, a mentor should follow the best practices while sharing feedback. Positive feedback boosts the motivation, confidence, and performance of learners and should be made publicly available. In contrast, constructive feedback must be delivered in a one-to-one session with an actionable plan to reach the desired outcome. 

The feedback should be free of any bias and must help the mentee in aligning his/her learning objectives towards the bigger goals.

Lead by an Example

Think about, What distinguishes a strong team of achievers from a weak one? The answer is the leader who leads by example. An insightful leader guides the team through his/her conduct and behaviour and puts light on the path to handle success, failure, and criticism. The same terminology is followed in a mentor and mentee relationship. Your virtual mentor must inculcate certain behaviour and actions and must conduct himself in a way to provide insights into the culture, work ethics, and values of the organization. 

Mentoring is about creating future leaders that are capable, trustworthy, responsible, and dependable. Through proper mentoring, a virtual mentor can spur proactivity in the mentees to undertake critical tasks, encourage them to take responsibility, and draw them out of their comfort zone to fill in the shoes of the leaders. 

Also read: 6 Tips for Mentees to Prepare for Meeting with the Mentor

Measure the Success of Mentoring Sessions

The ultimate goal of a mentoring program is to drive results and deliver on the goals set up at the program's planning stage. It is therefore vital to have some technological insights that help in measuring the success of the mentoring program. Virtual mentoring software like Mentoring Complete offers progress tracking, program assessment, and continuous reporting on the success of the program to ensure qualified deliverables. 

Success parameters are related to the following crucial aspects that your virtual mentor should have:

  • Fulfilment of individual and organizational goals
  • Employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Improved employee retention
  • Improved employee productivity and skill development
  • Ability to function on different projects
  • Employee wellness

By using the analytics and reports generated by the mentoring tools, mentors can understand the success of their program. It will also help in refining the processes and modules for future deliveries.

Conclusion

There are certainly some issues with virtual mentoring like, the missing social cues that help a mentor understand the level of involvement and engagement of attendees. However, having a good understanding of the mentor-mentee relationship and a well-defined strategy can result in fruitful outcomes from a mentoring program. Moreover, by following the shared actionable tips, a virtual mentor can become more effective at extracting desired results from the participants.


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Topics: Mentoring Best Practices, Mentor and Mentee, mentor mentee relationship, virtual mentor