By Solomon Thimothy, founder of Clickx
In my early days of entrepreneurship, I felt solely responsible for the success of my business. It seemed like it was all up to me to make sure things got done, goals were met and the company was moving forward.
However, as things started to take off, I quickly realized that I couldn't do it alone. I had hired my team for a reason, and it was time I let them take control of their projects and deadlines. This didn't mean I completely removed myself from the equation. Instead, I took on another important entrepreneurial role -- mentor.
Acting as a mentor for employees can help individuals hone their talents and skills, as well as make them feel more invested in the organization. When employees feel like they're getting one-on-one help and attention, it can improve their workplace happiness and encourage them to stick around longer.
Unfortunately, not all entrepreneurs understand how to be a great mentor -- and it's understandable why. Mentorships are challenging to establish, but it's still important to provide that level of support to your employees. Here are a few different ways you can become a better mentor.
1. Find a unique connection.
If you're trying to connect with employees through a one-size-fits-all approach, you'll struggle to get to know what each individual wants or needs. To be a great mentor for your employees, you need to focus on creating authentic, unique connections with each team member -- even if it means taking a little extra time to get to know them.
Some connections will be easier to find than others. However, with strong listening skills and attention to detail, you can set the foundation for a great mentorship with any employee.
2. Assign peer mentors for onboarding.
It isn't always possible to provide one-on-one mentorship to each of your employees -- especially in times when they might need a little more attention, such as during onboarding. In this case, connect new hires with other employees who can help them through the training and onboarding process. Quality peer mentors might include someone who was in the position previously or someone with similar past experience.
However, keep in mind that you can't force mentorships and trying to do so will just be a waste of time. If two employees don't seem to be connecting, suggest another mentor who might be a better fit.
3. Encourage constructive criticism.
Mentoring employees can be a great way to provide the encouragement and support they need to truly take advantage of their skills and position -- but it should do more than that. A mentor should push an employee to be better, giving them the drive to go further or try harder. The best way to do this is by offering and encouraging constructive criticism and advice.
Remember to always stay productive when giving feedback. Avoid getting constructive without first appreciating the hard work and dedication your employee is giving you. Next, provide clear steps on how they can improve, as well as goals for making those improvements happen.
4. Remember empathy.
When you're stressed, behind on deadlines and working from sunup to sundown, it's easy to develop tunnel vision. However, it's important not to let those negative emotions come out at your employees or bring down the energy of your office.
Empathy is extremely important as an entrepreneur and mentor. If you're able to understand the stresses, challenges and needs your employees are experiencing both in and out of the workplace, you can provide them with a stronger support system.
Practice your listening skills. Remember that your employees will face complications of their own, and as the leader of your organization, it is your responsibility to ensure they're given the help, resources and time they need to get their job done.
As an entrepreneur, you're not solely responsible for your company's success. However, you are responsible for making sure your employees get all the help, resources and assistance they need to get their jobs done efficiently and effectively.
Approach relationships with your employees like a mentorship. By listening to their unique needs, you can encourage them to develop their skills and feel excited about the work they're doing.
Solomon Thimothy is the founder of Clickx, a marketing intelligence platform that helps businesses and agencies with marketing attribution.