The Not-So-Obvious Benefits of Mentorship
January may be Mentor Awareness Month, but mentorship is important all year, every year. If your company is considering starting a mentorship program, now is the time! Mentoring is a proven approach to drive retention and employee satisfaction, and there are even more benefits discovered along the way.
While we’ve been actively mentoring all through the years at Ameris Bank, we set a more intentional formal focus on mentorship over the past few years. Especially during these years of rapid growth, we know the importance of employees feeling connected and inspired through long-lasting and meaningful colleague relationships.
The benefits have been outstanding. There are obvious benefits that have been proven in studies throughout the years, such as reduced turnover and increased productivity. However, the not-so-obvious benefits deserve acknowledgement as you consider developing your program. Here are a few that stand out to me from the past few years.
Developing Bonds for Years to Come
In 2019, a business banker from a smaller market and a market president from a different state started their mentee-mentor relationship. Top goal: develop leadership skills that would position the business banker to one day advance into market leadership. Their relationship started with monthly calls, which led to job shadowing, observing the market president build camaraderie with his team, and attending community meetings together. The relationship grew as the months went on with the market leader providing recommendations on leadership books and having conversations talking through problem-solving issues. They developed a special bond, and their relationship continues today, with the business banker summarizing his experience: “I feel valued.”
This is only one example of countless relationships that form though mentorship programs. When employees feel bonded and connected, they become powerful ambassadors for your company.
Practical and Personal Development
Nominees are selected for our 9-month Mentor Ameris program representing diversity across our geographic footprint and business divisions. Selected mentees and mentors identify their goals for the mentor relationship, which are used to appropriately pair the mentors with mentees. Year over year, our program grows and expands, with more and more nominations for employees to participate.
Every mentor match is unique. Goals range from career interest in a completely different area of banking, to skill development, such as team-building and conflict resolution. The mentor and mentee determine what works best for them – how often they will meet, the ways they will stay connected and the objectives they want to accomplish.
Because our program is not based on a cookie cutter approach, mentees develop a wider array of skills and attributes. This benefits our company because it makes us more knowledgeable, well-rounded and approachable.
You Build Stronger Leaders on Both Sides
Mentor Ameris is designed to develop purposeful, meaningful and long-lasting relationships. The mentor grows and benefits from the relationship just as much as the mentee. One mentor said that by coaching her mentee with role-playing, she sharpened her own leadership skills. Another mentor told me that her mentee helped her better understand how to use social media as a business development tool. The development goes both ways.
Executive and senior leadership often share that they get as much—if not more—from Mentor Ameris. It’s a great way for them to remain aware and keep a pulse on challenges and perceptions felt by various colleagues throughout the organization.
Knitting our Culture Together
New perspectives are not the only benefits to Mentor Ameris. It also knits together our culture, encourages deeper engagement and helps us recruit and retain the strongest and brightest employees. We celebrate many successes throughout our company, some of which are when our mentees are promoted to new roles in other areas of the bank – a result supported by the guidance and inspiration they received through Mentor Ameris. Our employees are the key to our success, so there’s nothing more important than investing in and developing them.
While Mentor Ameris will continue to evolve as our company grows, one thing remains the same: the benefits of a mentorship program are countless. Building a mentorship culture at your company will provide dividends for years to come, and I urge you to start today!
By Jennifer Garizio, Ameris Bank Learning and Development Director
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.