As we all know, there has been a shift in the workspace, and some things that used to be in-person have now shifted online. Another thing to add to this ever-growing list is a shift from traditional mentorship to a virtual one.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, you may be asking yourself why does this even matter? Well, let me give you some statistics. According to a Gallup survey conducted last fall, 45% of U.S employees were working partly or fully remotely with 91% planning to continue remote working post-pandemic. With this push and desire to remain remote also comes the need for leaders and managers to adopt a new way of mentoring – a virtual way.
So, what are some benefits of virtual mentorship compared to traditional face-to-face? Well just like any other remote work, it can provide more flexibility and convenience. Virtual mentorship allows more flexibility in both the mentor’s and mentee’s schedules and location. With the help of new software and technology, teaching remotely has vastly improved and has become more accessible.
Anytime changes are introduced there will always be people that meet them with hesitation. Many people assume that working under the same roof is essential for building work relationships. However, what is truly essential for mentoring is a foundation of trust, commitment, and collaboration. All of which can be applied to remote mentoring.
So now that you know why this is important, let’s talk about how to be successful in this new endeavor.
Ingredients for Success:
The first thing that must be established is trust. This may take more time and intentionality in a virtual setting than if you were meeting face to face every day but, who doesn’t like a challenge, right? Starting a new job can be overwhelming, so it is important for both parties to reach out often, especially in the beginning. Demonstrating genuine care and concern and even talking about non-work-related things from time to time can help alleviate the stress of a new job.
Finding the Right Tools
Creating an understanding and setting expectations for how often and over what medium to communicate with one another must be set early on. When mentoring over virtual mediums, we’ve found it best to have a mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication. Having only one medium of communication such as email may not be as efficient. However, when combined with synchronous communication options such as phone calls or video-based platforms it can provide a quicker and more direct response. It may take some trial and error but finding a happy balance on what works best for both parties will be well worth it in the long run.
Now that you’ve built trust and you’ve found what mediums work best for the both of you it is time to put it all together through collaboration. Working under the same roof provides so many opportunities to work together on projects which in turn becomes a platform for teaching. Those same opportunities can still arise under a virtual mentorship which would allow the mentor and mentee to build a strong and close work relationship.
So as more and more companies embrace remote and hybrid work you too may soon find yourself mentoring virtually. Or vice versa you may be learning from someone miles away from you. But if both parties go into it with a positive mindset and establish a game plan early on success is in sight.