How to mentor new employees

How to mentor new employees

Starting a new job is exciting, and it can also be somewhat overwhelming with so many new people to get to know and so much to learn. You can help make the first few weeks in your practice less stressful and more productive for a new employee by investing time in orientation, training, and mentoring.

Show them around

Depending on the size of your office, the orientation process may entail just a few hours showing a new staff member around and explaining the most important policies of the practice. Or, it may be a full day (or two) and include not only human resource issues, but also training on safety, infection control, and HIPAA.

Train them

Training is an ongoing process that, depending on the complexity of the practice and the role of the new employee, may take a few days or several weeks. Either way, take the time to train each new staff member so that they feel confident and competent to perform their duties.

Beyond routine orientation and training is mentoring, and this is where many practices don’t place enough emphasis. Mentoring is less formal than orientation and training, but just as important. A mentor can help a new employee successfully navigate their first few months on the job by being available to answer questions, serving as a sounding board when the new staff member is frustrated or uncertain about something, and helping them avoid the little political landmines that seem to exist in even the most highly functional workplaces.

Once an employee has been with your practice for a couple of weeks, determine who the best person in the office is to provide the new staffer with ongoing support. Don’t make the mistake of arbitrarily assigning a mentor. Mentor and mentee should have compatible personalities and both parties should agree that the match is a good one. Let the newly formed pair determine for themselves how they’d like the relationship to develop. A brief conversation a couple of times a week may be all that’s needed for the mentor to help the mentee integrate into the practice, they may schedule weekly lunches as a way to make the mentoring more intentional, the two might e-mail or text as issues arise, or the relationship may be a combination of all of these ways of communicating.

A few weeks into the process the practice manager should check in with both mentor and mentee to see how things are going. The report will hopefully be a positive one, but if not, consider the possibility that the match was not as perfect as initially thought and consider regrouping. Mentor/mentee relationships can go south if the mentee fails to ask for advice, asks for advice but doesn’t take it seriously, is too needy, or shares confidential conversations with others. Likewise, the mentor can sabotage the situation by being a reluctant participant to begin with, not being responsive when asked for support, not taking the concerns (no matter how minor) of the mentee seriously, or gossiping to the mentee about fellow employees or practitioners.

Relationships between mentors and mentees often evolve into nice friendships. If that happens, you know you helped facilitate a good match at the outset. If the process works like it should, the mentee will one day be in the position to pay it forward and become a mentor to another new employee.