In the past two years, the way we work and what we expect in the workplace has changed to a great extent. From great resignation to testing remote work, we have experienced everything.
Today employees are noticeably clear about what they want from their roles and the companies, and some of them also mean a lot of flexibility.
Some people wish for better career advancements. What a person wants from a company depends on their perspective. One of the best ways is to provide a space for support growth and mentorship.
Experts say that workplace mentorship programs succeed in engaging and retaining employees. Social restrictions or remote workplaces might seem like a problem here, but virtual mentoring comes as a happy solution.
You can rely on virtual mentoring platforms to develop mentor-mentee relationships and provide employees with the guidance they need.
It is possible in all cases whether you are just running a remote first workforce or you have distributed teams globally.
Basics You Need To Know About Virtual Mentoring
Virtual mentoring is workplace mentoring where the mentors and the mentees meet only virtually and not in person. Instead, they are likely to connect over video calls or voice calls. At the same time, several elements of business communication happen on chat, Hangouts, zoom calls, or slack channels with the advancement of technology. So why not move to the mentorship program with all the platforms available out there?
This remote mentoring program supports companies with the remote first workforce or distributed teams. It provides a structured way of connecting mentors and mentees no matter where the employees are.
In addition, virtual meetings tend to run entirely efficiently as compared to face-to-face meetings promoting productivity besides time management.
Reasons Why Virtual Mentoring Is Essential
Workplace mentorship programs benefit not only the employees but also the company. Mentors and mentees work together to help each other grow in the positions new members can easily onboard with guidance and training.
Mentors can also use their experience to nurture prospective talent while evaluating the objectives and goals with a fresh perspective.
The benefits of running a virtual mentor program within the company are mentioned here.
Professional and personal growth
The primary objective of workplace mentoring is to support the employees and help them become their perfect selves.
Some of the best practices for a mentorship program include setting realistic goals, having clear expectations, listening very actively, and establishing boundaries besides being accountable and proactive.
When joined by a mentor who provides guidance, real-world experiences, and support, you set the employees up for success. The best part is that they grow personally and professionally.
Support the remote workforce.
Many companies are remote or have distributed the workforce globally. Whether it is done due to the pandemic or because you want to offer employees good flexibility, remote working can make monitoring how the employees are doing challenging.
But with virtual mentoring, you can keep aside time and space for employees to train and learn new skills intentionally and connect with other employees.
It has new employees on board who successfully interact with others in the company and also assimilate well.
When employees feel supported, challenged, or even motivated to grow, they start investing in the company and its objectives.
You will then have employees who enjoy collaborating with you and want to do their best to help the business grow to a great extent.
This leads to improved skill development, more initiative taken, and there will be a minimum turnover rate.
Create an online community.
Remote work can lead to complete isolation as more people stay indoors and feel disconnected from their teammates.
Members of a team work together to challenge one another, brainstorm and support each other and create something completely extraordinary. but this is challenging to achieve, especially in a remote workforce, and it can hurt even more employees who do not feel motivated enough to put their best foot forward.
People need to connect, and virtual mentoring programs can bridge the gap. You can use such programs to create an intentional space where the employees can connect and interact with each other.
We can also build more focused communities using online community software to make a lot of employee engagement.
How Can You Start A Virtual Mentoring Program?
Starting and building a virtual mentorship program might seem challenging, but with the right people and software, you can get the program up and running instantly.
First, you must understand how current employees and stakeholders feel about workplace mentorship. It is essential to bring all the stakeholders on board to run the program successfully.
So, you need to explain how the employees and the company would benefit from the program. Then you can use the virtual mentoring software where employees can register and also at the same time interact with each other besides holding sessions.
Examples Of Virtual Mentoring
There are several ways to implement virtual mentoring in business. Try or at all once to see what works perfectly for you and your team members.
One of the most common types of mentorships is one-to-one virtual mentoring. You can schedule regular video chats with another entrepreneur who is accomplished in your field to discuss your barriers, objectives, habits a lot more.
Also, it can activate new team members with experienced employees as a part of the onboarding process to implement virtual coaching within the company.
Virtual mentoring groups
Mentoring does not have to be just one-to-one. You can also set up virtual mentoring groups that meet regularly to rescue familiar challenges and share tips and tricks.
Group members can set objectives, help each other achieve all the targets, and offer accountability.
Virtual employee resource groups
You can design mentoring programs focused on uplifting the specific underrepresented groups in the workplace, including the ones for employees who are caregivers’ females, or veterans.
In addition, workers from diverse backgrounds can meet virtually, discuss everyday experiences, or even share advice.
Limitations Of The Virtual Mentoring
Challenging in forming a connection
While some mentoring might benefit some people who are uncomfortable in real-life social situations, it can also be detrimental to others.
People who value body language when communicating might struggle or feel awkward if they do not make enough eye contact.
Sitting next to somebody makes it extremely easy to feed off their energy and create a robust wrapper. It is challenging to connect with somebody and establish that connection virtually. You can make things work by encouraging video-based mentoring sessions instead of just voice calls whenever possible.
At the same time, you can try icebreaker games and colonial times to help the mentor and mentee get to know each other. After the first two sessions, you have to check with the group to see how things are going.
At times mentors and mentees do not end up clicking. Having an ocean between them can make it challenging.
There is also something about long awkward pauses on the video screen. A mentor pairing should reflect on why they feel the chemistry would be lacking, but they should not be forced to continue the session if they do not think it fits.
Finally, you must set up some templates and procedures for how the mentors and mentees can resolve all the challenges. Such cases encourage honest evaluation and discussion and make it easy to rematch the pair with other colleagues.
Technical glitches can be frustrating and time-consuming at the same time. Nobody wants to reboot the computer during the middle of an important session.
Both parties need to ensure that they have a stable Internet connection before they start the session.
They need to have a backup plan if any one of the parties experiences an interruption in the service, like switching to a mobile or video chat app.
Spending all day on video calls can be challenging and might even cause you to feel less engaged than if you were face-to-face with your mentor.
Then it is straightforward for you to mix things; for instance, you can go for a phone call one day, or if the weather permits, you can go for a video call while you are walking.
You can also experiment with virtual reality technology for a change. You can occasionally meet if you happen to be in the same city as the mentor.
Some Of The Best Practices For Virtual Mentorship
It would be best if you clarified the engagement rules.
Virtual mentorship generally requires more focus on getting the perfect logistics world. Hence, people decide how often you will communicate, whether you would instead do that through video-based platforms, phone calls or emails, or instant messages, and what time of the day would be the best for each party.
Have to consider what feels comfortable for both sides and be flexible about scheduling meetings around other responsibilities, including caring for family members or home-schooling kids.
Be focused during the meetings next line to succeed with virtual mentoring; the mentee and the mentor must be entirely focused.
You must show interest and commitment by showing up on time, reducing distractions, and practicing active listening. You also have to ask intelligent questions and appreciate each other’s time.
Discussing whether you should record their sessions or not on the flipside will eliminate the need for constant note-taking and allow both sides to be more engaged in the conversation. There will be a chance that if one of the parties is nervous about being on a recording, that could make conversations less relaxed.
Be free to give and receive feedback.
One of the major elements of being a mentor is providing honest and actionable advice. You should not be afraid to ask for feedback if you are taking mentorship from somebody or if you are doing and giving your mentor feedback on what their guidance is all about.
Insert mentoring style efficiently in what ways you have incorporated their feedback. Actionable input to and from the mentor helps you get most of the practice.
One-to-one mentoring activities
One-to-one mentorship programs need to focus on the leading team’s development, some of which are mentioned here.
Check-ins include talking to the mentor about the week’s positive and negative experiences and allowing them to offer advice on how to do you or how you could have done better. There are also question answers where you have to ask thoughtful questions about the mentor and their life experiences to learn from their successes and mistakes.
For skill development, you have to ask the mentor to run a mini workshop on a scale they have that you would like to learn or improve. Career mapping is also essential when you check if your mentor helps you to achieve the ultimate career objective.
Job shadowing is another option where you have to see if any shadow or company is your mentor as they complete the business tasks like pitching a business idea with the potential clients for project-based learning. It is essential that you can ask your mentor for good
opportunities to work on a project.
Current events are important to discuss within the industry and get insights on how they see the current trends impacting the future. For practical benefits, you can also go for drawing, making collages, or sharing photos that can creatively help your story. Incorporating art into mentoring activity improves critical thinking and can support entrepreneurs psychologically while improving their memory.
Peer mentoring activities
You can try some strategies if you implement a mentorship program in the company which pairs employees of the same positions or rank.
You can go for elevator pitch sessions where mentees help each other craft elevator pitches for their ideas through feedback, brainstorming, and revision.
Problem-solving sessions allow the mentees to meet regularly viscous solutions for workplace challenges. Knowledge sharing gives mentees the space and time to share knowledge and help each other learn unique skills.
Group mentorship programs are great for feedback, knowledge sharing, and community building. Some of the activities that you can surely try include masterminds.
Being a mentor, you must meet with mentees to explore options for growing the business or reaching specific professional objectives. You can also go for team building, where you can identify common goals and work towards them by brainstorming or solving the issues together.
Finally, you can organize current events where you can stay informed by reading news stories about the industrial deposition and sharing what you are learning with the group.
Virtual Mentoring Tips To Stay Engaged
Consistency is the key.
The orientation for the mentoring program concludes by encouraging the mentoring pairs just off the bat. This helps establish a routine for revolving a meeting schedule, for example, coffee at 9:30 AM on the first Tuesday of every month.
Whether it is just a visit to a cafe or a recurring zoom meeting, setting a consistent mentoring meeting date can ensure that personal and professional obligations do not overtake the schedule.
Just like that, mentoring program managers should send out brief nudges to provide a touch point with the pairs, encouraging consistency in meeting the plans and recommending topics for discussions and materials. Provide check-ins from the program managers, which must happen at least once in the quarter.
It will boost the program support, and it will offer an opportunity where they can share timely news to supplement mentor and mentee discussions.
Communicate Related expectations
Pivoting from going in-person to virtual meetings and then back again might mean the expectations you set at the beginning of the program would be different than what is just happening.
So, you just have to discuss it. You need to decide that the flexibility of virtual meetings should fit better in your life but that you would like to get creative and communicate virtually in many ways at various times.
You have to realign the schedules and expectations while turning the experience into a teachable moment on managing time in a virtual work environment and using the latest communication tools.
Embrace and learn technology.
It takes two to tango or even, in this case, not just mentor, but virtual mentoring also requires a lot of technology. So, it is a beautiful time for reverse mentoring to play a role in exploring virtual connection tools.
While the program requires qualified meetings between mentoring pairs to be held via video conferencing, the virtual element does not have to end with the video call. So, communication and collaboration tools can be an excellent way to expand your discussions and improve collaboration.
Be in the moment.
Just like you should minimize distractions during the in-person meeting, giving undivided attention to virtual mentoring conferences is essential. Mindfulness is the quality of the mind that strives to be fully present.
You would find multiple distraction points while attempting to meet virtually, as you have already discovered in other virtual meetings before preparing for mentoring sessions, as if you are appearing in court or delivering an important presentation. It means you have to turn off or mute the phone, close all other programs on the computer, and turn off the notification.
- Virtual mentoring is a type of mentoring that is done primarily through digital channels such as video conferencing, email, and instant messaging.
- Virtual mentoring offers many benefits, such as flexibility, convenience, and accessibility.
- Virtual mentoring can be more cost-effective than traditional face-to-face mentoring, allowing a wider pool of potential mentors and mentees to connect.
- Best practices for virtual mentoring include setting clear goals and expectations, establishing regular communication and feedback channels, and using technology to enhance the mentoring relationship.
- Some challenges of virtual mentoring can include issues with technology and connectivity, difficulties building trust and rapport, and challenges with maintaining engagement and motivation.
- Organizations can implement virtual mentoring programmes by identifying objectives and goals, selecting mentors and mentees, providing training and support, establishing communication and feedback channels, and measuring the effectiveness of the programme.
This is all you need to know about virtual mentoring and be on track to become a virtual mentor or mentee.
Virtual mentoring will remain an efficient and effective way to leverage technology in meetings and fit mentoring into busy schedules, allowing for productive learning experiences between the mentor and mentee.
The benefit of in-person interactions in building trust and connection cannot be denied. Virtual mentoring sessions can also be a massive part of the realistic mentoring plan.
What is virtual mentoring?
Virtual mentoring is a type of mentoring relationship where the mentor and mentee communicate and interact primarily through digital channels such as video conferencing, email, instant messaging, or online collaboration tools.
What are the benefits of virtual mentoring?
Virtual mentoring offers many benefits such as flexibility, convenience, and accessibility.
It allows mentors and mentees to connect from anywhere, at any time, and it can be more cost-effective than traditional face-to-face mentoring. It also enables a wider pool of potential mentors and mentees to connect and build relationships.
How does virtual mentoring work?
Virtual mentoring works by using digital channels to communicate and interact between the mentor and mentee.
This can include video conferencing, email, instant messaging, or online collaboration tools. The mentor and mentee can set up regular meetings, share resources and feedback, and collaborate on projects.
What are some best practices for virtual mentoring?
Some best practices for virtual mentoring include setting clear goals and expectations, establishing regular communication and feedback channels, respecting each other’s time and availability, using technology to enhance the mentoring relationship, and being open to learning and growth.
What are some challenges of virtual mentoring?
Some challenges of virtual mentoring can include issues with technology and connectivity, miscommunication or misunderstandings due to lack of face-to-face interaction, difficulties building trust and rapport, and challenges with maintaining engagement and motivation.
How can organizations implement virtual mentoring programs?
Organizations can implement virtual mentoring programs by identifying objectives and goals, selecting mentors and mentees, providing training and support, establishing communication and feedback channels, and measuring the program’s effectiveness.
It is also important to consider technology requirements, policies and procedures, and any legal and ethical considerations.
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Business, marketing, and blogging – these three words describe me the best. I am the founder of Burban Branding and Media, and a self-taught marketer with 10 years of experience. My passion lies in helping startups enhance their business through marketing, HR, leadership, and finance. I am on a mission to assist businesses in achieving their goals.