Table of Contents
- 1 What is Peer Mentoring?
- 2 What is a Peer Mentor?
- 3 Benefits of Peer Mentoring
- 4 Bottom Line
Since times immemorial, peer mentoring has been around as people have taught fellow partners, friends, and classmates how to acquire skills. Though it sometimes occurs in the workplace naturally, there is also a real value to establishing a formal peer mentorship program to benefit the growth of the employees in the long run.
In a relationship between two people at the same career stage or exact age, one has more experience than the other in a defined domain and can offer skill and knowledge transfer, known as peer mentoring. It is a one-on-one experience or relationship in a group.
Usually, the exchange is mutual. If only one member of the duo start to play the role of learner or mentee, and the other act as a mentor, it will be referred to as peer mentoring. For instance, when new employees join the company, they may start as mentees or learners. But as the relationship progresses, they discover they have something to offer the partner concerning other experiences. A relationship thus develops into a workplace environment for co-learning.
The main objective of peer mentoring is twofold. First, it is to share the job-related knowledge, which means transferring both skills and knowledge relevant to the job. The second is to provide psychosocial support.
Peer mentors are more experienced employees who offer leadership to newcomers. They offer attention, support, knowledge, and skills. In addition, the peer mentor serves as a positive role model, offers open-ended counseling, and promotes positive reinforcement, raised aspirations, and combined problem-solving.
Besides being willing to invest their energy and time to reach out to the employees, peer mentors serve as a source of trusted information and show empathy with them on new concerns.
They are experienced leaders and role models for newcomers in an organization. Respected by colleagues and employees, they should have a can-do and positive attitude and be willing to share their experiences.
Good peer mentors have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They can motivate and encourage others.
The ideal peer mentor is:
- Highly experienced
- Not swamped with other projects
- Familiar with the role of a peer mentor
- Communicate effectively
- Able to solve the queries
It is not required for the peer mentor to have a relative age, but their responsibilities and skills should be similar. The person should be able to relate to the protégé as they have a lot in common, however, with more experience. Also, they are mature enough to guide the mentee in their next career steps.
At times, the peer mentor will volunteer for the role, or it may be a formal peer mentoring program to help match the mentors and the protégés.
Peer mentoring thrives on frequent and early interactions. Peer mentors are there to help you with problem-solving. They have had gone through the same difficulties in their time as the mentee is facing. Thus, they have the experience and knowledge to answer the queries and clear the doubts of the mentees.
Peer mentors are responsive and responsible towards their mentees. They reach out to them regularly, especially at the beginning of the early transition period. Ask the mentee what they are doing, what questions they have, anything they need help on, and more.
They provide trusted information to their mentees. It is the responsibility of peer mentors to give sound, practical, and accurate information along with truthful opinions. Mentees count on peer mentors to be their trusted resources.
As a mentee, you are not expected to know everything. You will be having questions with unknown answers or concerns that you wouldn’t be able to address. Thus, in this case, you know where to seek help.
As a peer mentor, you should act as a coach and not a crutch. Offer knowledge and support in times of crisis, but don’t do the work for them.
Peer mentoring is suitable for both mentees as well as mentors. Mentees receive help with self-directed learning along with socialization and emotional support. On the other hand, mentors develop relation-building and leadership skills. Thus, peer mentors offer a more significant boost than typical mentors.
Peer mentoring is less intimidating as both parties are on equal footing. In addition, it is easier to relate to a mentor of similar status in the organization or age, resulting in more comfortable and open communications.
Though worthy traditional mentoring will always have a place in the workplace, peers must be treated as equally valuable mentors. Training more employees to be peer mentors could open the way to lots of benefits. Apart from opening the mentor experience to more employees, most managers don’t have much interest and time to become typical mentors. Besides, a senior manager is an expensive resource in an organization with short supply. Peer mentoring helps to intentionally harness the employees’ social influences, leading them to become more confident and agile.
In peer mentorship, there is no hierarchy. Both the parties play the mentee and mentor. It is equal footing. Though it doesn’t mean that one party will not be a little younger or older, a little less or more experienced, or any other factors. However, in terms of the progression of career, the people involved are comparatively similar.
There are plenty of such relationships, especially for those who feel traditional mentoring is unnecessary. Check out the following benefits of peer mentoring:
Peers share their experiences in the workplace and learn from each other. So often, come to believe that your situations are unique and no one will understand what you are going through. However, that is just not the case. Peers can relate to each other more profoundly and comprehensively since they are also going through similar circumstances.
One thing that separates traditional mentoring from peer mentorship is mutual mentees and mentors, and the dyad stays focused on growth and learning. They are not just there for chit-chats. Instead, it is a purposeful activity that allows both parties to gain new perspectives and insights.
Peers can help to solve the problems of each other. When difficulties arise, they can combine their experience and knowledge to come to better options and solutions together rather than putting the burden on one to do it on their own.
It feels more comfortable when you share your challenges and struggles with someone who is there with you, instead of disclosing them to someone who is quite ahead in their career or the one who is focused on retirement.
Peers can put themselves in others’ shoes and help them explore the option in a safe space.
Peers can transfer knowledge to one another. As they grow in their roles, they develop a lot of tacit knowledge. Peer-to-peer learning motivates knowledge sharing, so necessary know-how is kept within the company. Peers benefit from the mentoring relationship as they coach others. As a result, they learn a lot themselves. In addition, employees or mentees may be able to share their knowledge with their coworkers in your organization, helping to develop future leaders.
Moreover, knowledge sharing takes place among them in a more comfortable setting than formal presentation and planning, making it less intimidating. In this relationship, there is a readiness to make mistakes and learn from the collaborative arrangement.
Learning from the ones similar to you and having success stories to their name can be inspiring. These peers are more relatable than higher-ups in the organization. This connection with coworkers and the eagerness of everyone to work together can develop a more robust company culture. Peer mentoring can grow from the experience and may begin to be more ambitious. Peers treated as experts in their field by their firm feel more valued and are encouraged to learn more and share their experiences with others. It results in improving company culture and, ultimately, productivity.
One of the essential benefits of peer mentorship is the opportunity to discuss everyday frustrations of the workplace. Sharing and talking with the person who understands is a great way to release stress and tension, avoiding any future emotional blow-up.
Healthy venting leads to a sense of feeling that you have someone by your side and not alone. It gives you the feeling of goodwill. In addition, it allows calming down harmlessly and eases negativity. However, ensure that the venting doesn’t become complaining and whining that can increase levels of frustration.
Both parties can share freely and express whatever they have but shift quickly towards finding solutions. Thus, it helps in maintaining a healthy and positive relationship.
When workers are happier in their routine, it is more likely to increase productivity and generate more money. Besides, a positive working environment reduces intern problems that otherwise need to be solved by external solutions. Thus, peer mentoring helps the employees with the business to go smoother. Therefore, the peer mentorship approach to development has various benefits that overcome the company’s challenges in the process of development.