Defining Company Culture
Company culture doesn’t always get the attention as other areas of the business, but it’s just as important because it influences almost every discipline from operations to sales.
But what makes up the culture of a company?
In its essence, company culture refers to the shared set of values and ideals within an organization. It’s what brings character and personality to a brand name.
It can be influenced by:
- Team members – what are their shared values and ideals? A culture is created by the people.
- Mission statement – what is the organization’s collective goal?
- Values and ethics – what is considered important or pointless? Acceptable or unacceptable? Right or wrong?
- Environment – where does the company work? How do space and amenities affect people’s behavior and mindset?
Why is the culture of a company important?
Organizations in any industry experience change every day. The one constant is the company’s culture- the highest standard expected of each individual, and the values that glue everyone together. Company culture is more than a collection of words, its a collection of ideals.
Culture pervades every aspect of professional life, even though it’s not always apparent. For example, if an employee has a birthday, the way that the rest of the team treats that individual can represent the company’s culture. Similarly, if the team is hostile to one another, that may come out in customer interactions.
Whether it’s a simple interaction or a major initiative, culture plays an important role in unifying and directing people.
Still confused? Be sure to read our post on the importance of company culture.
How To Describe Your Company Culture
So how do you describe the culture of your business or the culture of the workplace? That might not be easy questions to answer, so we’ll cover a few steps on how to refine your culture messaging.
Brainstorm your brand’s top core values
Gather the key stakeholders of the brand in a room and come up with the top 20 values of the brand. Then narrow them to 10. And then again to five, until you have three left. While the others are still important, focusing on three main values will be easier to embed in the brand’s identity.
Start with the team
Find people that aren’t just qualified, but exemplify the brand’s core values. In most cases, you can train the individual to become proficient with a certain program or process, but you can’t train them to follow core values. During the interview process, picture how that person might behave with the team or under pressure. Would you still hire them?
Check out our tips on finding the best talent for your company.
Get down in the trenches
The best way to learn about the top values of your company is not just to ask, but to observe. Watch your team at work or at events and try to find the best aspects of their personality. Chances are these personalities and traits are what influence your current culture.
Listen to feedback
And not just to your team, but to your customers and partners as well. Read the reviews (as hard as that may be) on Google or Amazon, or whatever website your business may be rated on. What do others say about how your team’s interactions? Criticism can be difficult but can also be opportunities for change.
Measure, Evaluate, Revisit
It’s not enough to write down the values, you have to actually uphold them! Set milestones to check in with your team and see how closely the values are being followed. Send out anonymous surveys to get real opinions on how well the values are implemented, and how they might be improved. Use that feedback to build upon the values you created.
10 Attributes to Assess Your Company Culture
- Communication – The interactions between your team is in itself an example of the company culture in effect. Observing how your team discusses both professional and personal matters can give you a better sense of how the culture is implemented. If the culture is creative, collaborative, and upbeat, chances are that interactions at work will reflect those values.
- Feedback – Praise is all well and good, but if you really want to measure a culture’s efficacy, you must stay cognizant of how the company handles even the most critical feedback. Companies with well-realized cultures understand how to respond and act on criticism while staying consistent with the brand’s voice and personality.
- Goals – Culture is as much about setting objectives and creating plans of action as it is about how people interact. Some cultures place high importance on excellence and prestige, while others are about moving fast and innovating.
- Learning opportunities – Learning shouldn’t stop after school. In fact, companies have a responsibility to encourage its employees to expand their knowledge base. Unilever, the global consumer goods brand, even goes as far as to offer tuition reimbursement. This has lead many of their employees to get degrees in higher education for marketing, entrepreneurship, management, and more.
- Purpose – Organizational culture is heavily rooted in meaning. Without it, the company’s employees would not have a reason to come in each day, let alone stay long term. A good way to test whether your company’s purpose is clearly conveyed is to ask every person on the team what they believe the purpose is, and how they interpret it. Depending on the responses, you may have to fine-tune the language to ensure it is clear as it is inspiring.
- Decision Making – Culture can also dictate the best course of action to take when faced with a certain dilemma. Nordstrom, the luxury department store chain, defines their philosophy in a simple way: “Use your own initiative to provide customers with exceptional levels of service. You’ll never be criticized for doing too much for a customer, only for doing too little.” While other brands force adherence to a rigid process, Nordstrom employees are encouraged to be their selves, as long as it benefits the customer in some way.
- Responsibility – Everybody should be accountable for something within an organization. To understand why, look no further than Apple’s example. For any project or initiative, there is a DRI (Directly Responsible Individual). Whenever there is an issue, a bottleneck, or a general question, the DRI is the person to seek out. The DRI ensures everything stays efficient and that communication stays as clear as possible.
- Teamwork – Collaboration is often the key to a happier and more successful time in the workplace. You would be hard pressed to find a culture that doesn’t involve teamwork and collaboration somehow in their values. How well does your team mesh together? What is their chemistry like? How can you encourage them to work together even more?
- Trust – Teamwork, communication, and respect… none of these values would even be possible without first having a shred of trust for your coworker or leader. How much does your team believe in the strengths of one another? Trust forms the foundation for any social interaction, especially in the workplace.
- Adaptability – Cultures that are set in stone do not age well. The world today is very different than it was ten years ago, twenty years ago, and it’s vital that a company culture is continually revisited to be relevant to the times. Your company culture should have an open mindset, open to change and new developments, if it truly wants to stay competitive.
20 words to describe company culture
Below are a few words used by companies to describe their culture in a positive light:
A Higher Standard
Company culture and values act as the north star for a business, guiding the team during tough times. It’s easy to shrug off company values as a low priority item, but doing so only leads to further ignorance and conflicts in the workplace.
Take the time to make the company culture a priority. The lasting effects of a well planned, fairly enforced value system can cause ripples beyond the business and beyond the workplace.
Be sure to read our article on the 8 must-read books for 2018.
Follow Novel Coworking’s blog and social media for more resources and guides for entrepreneurs and startups!
Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered how growth hacking can help startups scale rapidly. We’ve also covered several strategies in use by various entrepreneurs, from Instagram Influencers to gamified platforms.
Today, we want to showcase some of the success stories. And we’ll present the real cases where growth hacking has impacted a company’s bottom line.
Growth Hacking Examples to Inspire Your Own Business
“Google tracks you. We don’t.” DuckDuckGo used this single quote when they launched their campaign against the king of search engines. They were throwing down the gauntlet as a means to differentiate themselves. While Google collects data on online searches, DuckDuckGo would be built on the promise of privacy. Theirs ensured that searches were completely anonymous, which was a unique value proposition.
The campaign resonated. In 2019 alone, DuckDuckGo broke 10 billion searches for the year – a major milestone. On average, the search engine sees 46,303,892 searches each day. DuckDuckGo was able to carve out a niche for itself, though it has only ten years of experience (compared to Google’s 21). And it continues to grow even bigger.
What can explain this massive growth? You guessed it, growth hacking. Founder Gabriel Weinberg attributes DuckDuckGo’s rise in popularity to certain channels of growth and something he calls the “Bullseye Framework”.
Weinberg identified 19 marketing channels that can contribute to a startup’s growth (in no particular order):
- Targeting Blogs
- Unconventional PR
- Search Engine Marketing
- Social and Display Ads
- Offline Ads
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Viral Marketing
- Engineering as Marketing
- Business Development
- Affiliate Programs
- Existing Platforms
- Trade Shows
- Offline Events
- Speaking Engagements
- Community Building
Each of these channels can help companies acquire more customers. But this is not a checklist. Nor should each of them be implemented concurrently as the pathway to growth. Such an effort would be a waste of time and money.
Instead, Weinberg advocates using the Bullseye Framework to narrow it down to just one channel. The “bullseye” in the model is the channel that will give your business traction to grow to the next phase.
The Bullseye Framework is comprised of three parts:
The Outer Ring: What’s Possible – Step one, brainstorm every single channel that is a viable opportunity for your company. Do not dismiss any channel. This step will help you overcome channel biases and generate fresh marketing ideas.
The Middle Ring: What’s Probable – Next, put your theories to a test. Experiment with the channel ideas that are most likely to bring value to your company. Results should yield measurable improvements. For example, specific channels might motivate higher sales of your product.
Make the best use of your time by experimenting with multiple channels during this phase. By the end of the experiment, you should know how much your channel will cost, how many customers you can attract, and whether they’re the ideal customer for your brand.
The Bullseye: What’s Working – Testing should run around one month to determine the best performing channel. Focus only on viral marketing If you found that viral marketing was the most effective channel. Do not even consider implementing the second and third best channels. They will only distract your efforts. Ideally, the bullseye channel should be the only one employed until it is no longer effective or sustainable.
When DuckDuckGo started, it was focused only on SEO. But this focus led to efforts that helped them rank for keywords like “search engine”. Soon enough, the platform generated 10,000 visitors.
Recently, the company has shifted its’ focus back to existing platforms. Their efforts include initiatives to get DuckDuckGo installed first on Apple Safari, then on Mozilla Firefox. DuckDuckGo also formed a strategic partnership with Apple Maps for local searches earlier this year.
DuckDuckGo continues to grow because of its willingness to experiment while keeping sight of its unique value proposition: valuing customer privacy. To this day, DuckDuckGo does not store, sell, or share your personal information.
Airbnb was the market disruptor that overtook the hospitality industry. They gained bookings that would normally be gobbled up by the world’s top hotels. So It’s hard to believe that this international phenomenon was started by three roommates, an air mattress and a website.
Today, there are over 7 million listings worldwide in over 100,000 cities. But the company wasn’t always as successful. In reality, the founders initially struggled to make the company profitable.
Early on, the founders came up with a unique plan to raise money. They bought hundreds of boxes of Cheerios and Captain Crunch leading up to the 2008 presidential election. The boxes of cereal were turned into “Obama O’s” and “Captain McCain’s.” with a little photoshop magic and a hot glue gun.
Each box of cereal cost $40. CEO Brian Chesky estimated that 1000 boxes were sold, which earned enough money to keep the company in operations. The stunt was also highlighted on national television and created buzz around their brand. Soon after, the company was accepted into Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley startup accelerator program.
But Airbnb came to be known for yet another initiative in 2010, dubbed the “Craigslist platform hack”. With just a small user base, Airbnb knew it had to find a way to reach more people quickly. So Airbnb began to post listings on Craigslist as well.
The company used bots to automate listings on Craigslist. By featuring higher-quality photos and more detailed descriptions, Airbnb converted more users than the Craigslist listings. Over time, Craigslist users migrated to Airbnb entirely, preferring their platform and listings.
The second half of the Craigslist hack involved poaching customers from Craigslist. Users began to notice that whenever they posted a listing on the website, they would receive an email from a user recommending Airbnb’s platform.
Could it be considered spam? Likely. But was it effective? Absolutely. Due to their unconventional methods, Airbnb has grown to a valuation worth over $31 billion over the past 11 years. The company has now come a long way from using the Craigslist hack to build a user base or crafting political cereal boxes.
Dropbox was one of the first companies to set the standard for cloud storage. Other companies restricted storage behind expensive tiers of subscription memberships. But Dropbox offered every user 2GB free under a freemium plan. Once users joined, Dropbox rewarded users with additional storage for promoting the service or engaging more deeply with the company.
There are three ways users can earn more free space:
- Completing the Dropbox getting started checklist
- Refer your friends, family, and coworkers (sharing folders doesn’t count)
- Contribute to the Dropbox Community forum
The Dropbox Getting Started Checklist
New users are encouraged to immerse themselves in Dropbox’s service, teased with the possibility of earning extra space for each completed task. Tasks range from taking a tour to installing Dropbox on other devices.
These tasks are simple to accomplish. But if users need any support, they can simply hover over the item for immediate instructions. Even though the additional storage is only 250 MB, the checkmarks and list smartly encourage users to take part in these simple challenges.
Referring friends and family
Want to earn more space? Better start inviting other people! For every referral, you can earn an additional 500 MB, capped at 16 GB. Users with the Dropbox Plus or Professional accounts can receive 1GB per referral, and earn up to 32GB total.
There is a verification process in place to ensure that referred users do not abuse the system. They must open up a referral email, accept the invitation, install the Dropbox app, sign in, and verify their email address. However, the process is intentionally user-friendly to ensure that more users make it through to the end.
With an easy sign up/onboarding process, Dropbox referrals have become an effective way for the company to grow its user base while still providing value to its users.
Contribute to Dropbox community
Storage can be earned by supporting other users in the community. Users can post their questions or issue to a community board, allowing others to respond. Solutions that are utilized will be marked by users. In turn, you are rewarded with a “Mighty Answer” badge, netting you 1GB of additional space.
This technique not only encourages users to build a more social and cooperative community, it incorporates gamification to turn the process into a fun activity.
By giving users a reason to further engage, connect, and advocate the brand, they are effectively doing the marketing for Dropbox. Gamification can also make mundane tasks, such as inviting others to join, a far more enjoyable experience.
Dropbox isn’t the only one to have used a referral system to grow its audience. Back in the early 2000s, PayPal became one of the earliest online startups to incentivize customer referrals. But instead of additional space, PayPal was giving out free money.
Users would receive $20 for signing up. They would receive yet another $20 if they successfully converted one of their friends or family. Within a month of their website launch, PayPal had amassed 100,000 customers.
As the number of referrals increased, PayPal decreased the incentive to $10, then to $5. It was then limited to payment merchants, before being removed altogether. But PayPal grew despite the initial cost. The referral campaign turned out to be far more successful than traditional advertising.
In addition to referrals, PayPal benefitted from partnering with some big companies. Back in 2003, eBay had acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion. This had obvious financial benefits. But it also meant that all of eBay’s users were now using PayPal as their primary transaction platform.
In 2015, the two companies split. But PayPal continued to have a sustained partnership with eBay through mid-2020. eBay still accounted for more than 30% of PayPal’s revenue, and more than 50% of its profits. Today, PayPal is worth $102 billion while eBay is valued at $42 billion.
Founder Wade Foster had a daring idea: what if two products or software applications could “talk” to each other? Enter Zapier, the platform that allows different apps to integrate with one another. Want Google Drive updates on your Slack channel? Done. Or maybe you want Salesforce to update your Trello boards. No problem.
Wade Foster and his friends built the first Zapier prototype in just two days. But it wasn’t as intuitive. Foster had to Skype clients to understand their needs, and then manually hook up the integration himself.
Marketing efforts were also iterated and focused on outreach through company forums. But the traffic that was generated through this methodology was still minimal. What was encouraging however was that conversion rates were high – at 50%.
Zapier caught the attention of the companies hosting the forums as they built their reputation. This was important as it allowed Zapier to leverage partnerships to create link building opportunities. Their SEO began to improve as more brands mentioned their name. “Through this, we got to know the staff at some of these companies early on,” Foster says, “because they were like, ‘hey, that looks like a cool product, can we do anything together?’ And that was the beginning of partnerships for Zapier.”
Zapier gained more authority in the marketplace through SEO. Specifically, they created a new landing page for every possible integration. Hence, Zapier would be the first listed in search results if somebody googled “Groove and Jira integration”. As brand awareness grew, the company sought to expand efforts by outsourcing SEO to remote workers. Their first support hire, Micah, was based in Chicago. (At the time, Zapier had moved to San Francisco after being accepted to Y Combinator.)
Eventually, they would turn to content marketing for their strategy. They began to develop a blog based on apps, tools, and productivity. It took roughly 18 months to find authoritative content and to develop a strong voice for their blog. Today, Zapier’s blog attracts nearly 250,000 monthly readers.
Zapier continues to grow rapidly, without having spent a dime on a television ad or billboard. Sometimes the partnerships you form can be more valuable than the amount of money you have in the bank.
Growth hacking isn’t reserved for large or wealthy companies. Nor is it limited to technology brands. Growth hacking is about thinking outside the box, about finding creative solutions to attracting members. There is no predefined way, not a template for companies to follow, only examples and success stories to take inspiration from. How will your company find novel ways to grow?
Want to learn more about the various growth hacking strategies used by startups? Be sure to read last week’s post.
Good employees are everywhere, but great talent is hard to find. Today’s companies understand that to recruit and retain the best people, their culture must be designed to engage and empower its workforce.
Though executives often state the importance of company culture, it isn’t always carried out. Far too often, core values are not communicated clearly throughout the organization, or they are never put into practice. One Deloitte survey found that only 12% of executives believe their company is driving the right culture. And only 28% of executives understood their organization’s culture.
We hear executives harp on about the importance of culture in the workplace, and it typically has a couple paragraphs in every employee handbook. But why exactly should a company have culture in the first place, and what makes it so important?
How do you define company culture?
Before we can understand why company culture is important, we first have to find a common understanding of what exactly it is. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines company culture as values derived from human nature, the organization’s relationship to its environment, appropriate emotions, and effectiveness.
Organizational culture, corporate culture, company culture— no matter how you decide to call it, they all define and impact the personality and character of a business.
Usually, company culture is made up of three parts: mission statement, vision statement, and core values.
- Mission Statement – This is a short statement that answers the question: “why does your company exist?”
- Vision Statement – This statement outlines the organization’s goals for their medium to long-term future.
- Core Values – These are the principles that help guide a company’s decision-making and internal interactions.
Keep in mind that some companies may label these elements differently, but they are the building blocks of every company culture. Even if you already have yours defined, it’s important to continually revisit your own mission, vision, and core values. Do they still seem relevant today as when they were first instituted? Are you successfully conveying them to your team?
If not, then this next section is for you.
How to improve company culture
Company culture is so ambiguous, and each company so different, that there is no one way to improve upon it. However, here are a few actionable steps that any company can take to work on its culture.
Hire the right people
This should go without saying, but your company culture is only as effective as the people it hires. Historically, companies have aimed to hire candidates who are “culturally fit.” But today, that phrase has become outdated. Today, “culture fit” is perceived as an example of unconscious bias, an unintentional form of prejudice and groupthink. Put simply, emphasizing “culture fit” only encourages people to think and act the same.
Instead, companies are turning to focus on “culture add”. These individuals still mesh well with the company, but also bring in their own unique perspectives to help make the company more diverse. For example, a remote worker from Poland could help provide an outsider’s perspective on the company’s processes, or a graphic designer could offer useful insights on the company’s marketing material. In choosing between culture add versus culture fit employees, remember how a more diverse company often lead to more creative and original ideas.
Master the art of communication
Never underestimate the importance of strong communication. You may have a company culture that emphasizes hard work, empathy, and other equally important values. But if you fail to convey them to your team, then those values won’t be practiced in actuality. They’ll simply remain as words on a wall.
For example, employees of a recently acquired company often face increased challenges in communication as they attempt to navigate a new company culture. In fact, one 2018 study from Quantum Workplace found that companies that recently underwent a merger or an acquisition saw their employee engagement rate drop by 3%.
Build respect among team members
Trust and respect form the basis of any relationship. Workplace relationships are no different. But trust remains a common issue in the workplace even today. In a Harvard Business Review study of 9,800 full-time workers from 8 different countries, only 46% placed a “great deal of trust” in their employers. The top five reasons for the lack of trust were listed as:
- Unfair compensation
- Lack of equal opportunity for pay and promotion
- Lack of strong senior leadership
- Too much employee turnover
- Lack of a collaborative work environment
Encourage team building and social interaction
Your employees spend most of their waking hours at work, so fostering a workplace environment that promotes health and motivation is crucial. One of the most effective ways to do this is by promoting teamwork. Beware, team building can sometimes carry a stigma, especially if it forced or disingenuous. But when it’s delivered right, intentional socialization can really be a game-changer for your employees. Everything from a company-wide retreat to a team lunch for someone’s birthday can instill a greater sense of solidarity among workers.
Growth Culture vs. Performance Culture
Culture comes in various forms, but it can typically be organized into two buckets: growth culture and performance culture. Almost every organization you come across will feature some mixture of each, but how exactly do they differ?
Performance Culture: Success at all costs
Let’s start with performance culture. This type of culture tends to focus on efficiency and results above all else. Employees are generally perceived as cogs in a machine rather than individual humans; as a result, they are often incentivized by fear, money, and the threat of replacement.
The result: workers frequently experience burnout. Popular examples include brands like Amazon and Walmart, where employees are paid on a minimum wage despite being consistently ranked based on output.
Growth Culture: Building Long-Term Success
Alternatively, there’s growth culture. Companies with a growth culture tend to be less black-and-white about work and place a greater emphasis on the commitment to learning. Targets and profits, but they never get in the way of the workforce morale.
Instead, failures and setbacks are taken as lessons. Continuous feedback loops reward hard work. This all leads to a happier workforce, as well as a more innovative company. Brands that adopt growth cultures include Apple. These companies are excellent at creating environments that encourage experimentation, diversity, and camaraderie. “At Apple, we’re not all the same,” their website reads, “And that’s our greatest strength. We draw on the differences in who we are, what we’ve experienced, and how we think.”
Harvard Business Review recently published an excellent article that goes into further depth about building a growth culture over a performance culture.
Examples of Great Company Cultures
Southwest Airlines Co. has a reputation for becoming the world’s largest low-cost carrier, which differentiates them from competitors focused on luxury or international destinations. But not many people are aware that Southwest Airlines is also known for having a world-class culture with a focus on employees and customer service. In fact, they have a whole webpage on their site dedicated to outlining their culture. They have even dubbed their values “the Southwest Way,” which include striving for excellence, being respectful, and delivering memorable experiences.
When asked to describe the Southwest Airlines culture, Tammy Romo, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Southwest said this: “Our people and our culture are by far two of our key strengths at Southwest Airlines. We have a very caring culture. It’s the culture this company was founded on with 195 employees in our first year, and one that we work extremely hard today to protect even at 58,000-plus strong.”
The Vision: “To become the World’s Most Loved, Most Flown, and Most Profitable Airline.”
The Mission: “…dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
Values: “Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, Fun-LUVing Attitude, Work Safely, Wow Our Customers, Keep Costs Low”
It’s almost impossible to have a conversation about culture without bringing up Zappos. This popular shoe and clothing retailer was early to the online shoe market back in 1999, but the fun and collaborative culture is what propelled Zappos to grow. Their mantra is simple— if customers are happy, they will come back. All new employees go through the same training, learning the same values that reflect their focus on curiosity and fun.
“At Zappos, we really view culture as our No. 1 priority.” said Tony Hsieh in an interview with the New York Times. “We decided that if we get the culture right, most of the stuff, like building a brand around delivering the very best customer service, will just take care of itself.”
The Vision: “to live and deliver WOW.”
The Mission: “We aim to inspire the world by showing it’s possible to simultaneously deliver happiness to customers, employees, vendors, shareholders, and the community in a long-term, sustainable way.”
Values: “(1) Deliver WOW Through Service, (2) Embrace and Drive Change, (3) Create Fun and A Little Weirdness, (4) Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded, (5) Pursue Growth and Learning, (6) Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication, (7) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit, (8) Do More With Less, (9) Be Passionate and Determined, (10) Be Humble.”
GitHub has become a household name for Software developers. If you are unfamiliar, GitHub is a Git repository hosting service— a service for hosting and managing software files and code. Just last year, Microsoft purchased the company for $7.5 billion.
However, Github didn’t always have a stellar reputation for its culture. In 2014, after a major sexual harassment scandal, GitHub tapped Nicole Sanchez as GitHub’s VP of social impact to improve diversity and inclusion practices. Since then, the brand has made major strides in creating a safer space for all of its employees.
“Any company that has not explicitly articulated the connection between the thing they’re trying to produce and the need for a diverse group of people, will just miss every single time,” said Sanchez.
The Vision: “GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers.”
The Mission: “…code is about the people writing it. We focus on lowering the barriers of collaboration by building powerful features into our products that make it easier to contribute. The tools we create help individuals and companies, public and private, to write better code, faster.”
Values: “Collaboration, Empathy, Quality, Positive Impact, and Shipping.”
The industry-leading brands mentioned in this article are proof that supporting a strong company is doable. As you’ve seen with the biggest brands, it is a worthy investment to focus on your team. Provide generous benefits, create an inclusive environment, and develop character through training and mentorship. These are the essential building blocks to ensuring that your people love to come into work each day.
For more content on building out your company culture, make sure you follow Novel Coworking’s blog for weekly updates.
Want to recruit and retain the best talent for your company? Make sure you have a plan in place. If you really want to take your talent sourcing to the next level, you’ll have to look beyond quick fixes like swapping around interview questions.
In this article, we will discuss how to create a successful, comprehensive talent management strategy that will elevate your recruitment and retention processes.
What is a Talent Management Strategy?
Recruitment, selection, onboarding, retention… what do these aspects all have in common? They’re all dictated by the talent management strategy. This area of the business is dedicated to sourcing and empowering a company’s talent. From the moment you find a new hire to the moment they become part of your company, your talent management strategy is in effect. When the strategy is clearly defined, loyal employees become easier to find and develop.
Why is a talent management strategy important?
Talent management is vital to the success and longevity of a company. Here are a few reasons why it’s always a good idea to revisit your talent management strategy:
- Organizational alignment – Without a strategy in place, your HR professionals might work on conflicting initiatives. For example, one HR manager may believe that recruiting C-level executives should be the priority, while another may focus on promoting employees from within. An unaligned team leads to inefficient allocation of time and resources. In one study, 85% of CEOs said talent management is as important or more important than other business initiatives.
- Better candidate selection – Talent management strategy is concerned with how you find and select employees. Based on one Recruiterbox statistic, 60% of candidates have quit an application because it took too long. With a strategy, hiring managers have a clearer understanding of how to carry out their recruitment according to the company goals.
- Greater employee engagement – Talent management strategy is crucial to an engaged and connected workforce. That involves ensuring your employees’ voices are heard, that their feedback is taken into account, and that they can continue to do their best work. In one study from TalentNow, 56% of marketers reported using data to improve employee retention, the top use for data in recruitment.
- Brighter career outcomes – Talent management isn’t only reserved for new hires— a strong strategy considers existing employees as well. Talent management ensures that your current team has the necessary resources to progress in their career path, such as salaries, benefits, equipment, etc.
What are the key components of a talent management strategy?
We covered the key components of talent management strategy in last week’s post, so this section will focus on the elements of each segment.
1. Attracting talent
Recruitment and hiring practices are some of the primary concerns for any business. For businesses to launch successfully, they need to select the right employees. Attracting talent involves:
- Scouting and recruiting talent – How will your company find new talent? Which channels will you use? What criteria will you require?
- Interviews – Which questions will you ask? How will the interview be structured?
- Candidate selection – Out of all the viable candidates, how will you select the best fit?
- Onboarding processes – How will you ensure that new hires are seamlessly integrated into the team?
2. Developing leadership
Identify the leaders in your team. These sharp problem-solvers understand how to best allocate the talent to the most important projects, without ever losing sight of the bigger picture. Developing leadership involves:
- Training talent – How can employees be empowered to work more effectively?
- Promotions – Which employees have grown in their position and have the potential to be promoted to a higher position?
- Performance management – How will you track the efforts and output of each employee?
3. Motivating the team
Motivation fuels the work of your team. Without it, they may be left feeling drained and uninspired. Motivation involves:
- Creating incentives – Besides pay, how will you reward your top-performing employees?
- Communicating culture – What aspects of the company culture will inspire employees to improve? How will you convey this to them?
4. Retaining talent
Even the best recruitment strategy would be for nothing if your company is unable to retain its best talent. Talent retention includes:
- Providing benefits – What kinds of benefits packages will you offer? How will you stay competitive?
- Pay increases – When should you give your employees a raise? By how much?
- Strategy reviews – How often do you revisit your strategy? How will you attempt to change it?
- Feedback – How will you collect feedback from your team? How will you implement their feedback?
What are the types of talent management strategies?
As we’ve seen, talent management encompasses various aspects of the business. It should come as no surprise that there are different types of talent management strategy, each with a unique focus. Let’s explore a few:
Cultural strategy is concerned with defining the character of a business. It’s how your hiring managers know which candidates to choose (cultural fit), how your current employees treat each other, and how your customers perceive your brand. A positive company culture creates a welcoming community, encourages diversity and inclusion, and offers wellness programs that protect employees.
Your culture is often defined by three parts: vision, mission statement, and core values:
- The vision is what your company aspires to be or where it wants to go.
- The mission statement defines what it does right now.
- Finally, the core values state the principles and philosophy of your brand. Every business should know, be able to answer, and clearly communicate these three pieces to the organization and to your customers.
In relation to the key components of talent management strategy, performance management is most closely linked to motivation and leadership development. In other words, performance management tracks and analyzes the efforts of each individual. This type of management makes sure that the business continues to operate at its highest potential.
Performance may measure the financial aspects of a business, but in relation to each individual, it also tracks productivity, such as the number of tasks they completed on a given day, week, or month.
Organizational management is centered around how the company is structured. In other words, what are the various departments of the business, and who are the leaders and subordinates?
Organizational management also concerns itself with the professional development and progression of each individual. When an employee has stayed with your company for several years, it’s important that they are rewarded with some sort of promotion for their hard work. Organizational management is also important in succession planning, which involves lining up an immediate replacement in the event a high-level leader leaves the company.
Examples of talent management strategies
Interested in learning from companies with successful and robust talent management strategies? Let’s take a look at a few case studies.
University of California
Talent management is crucial in academic studies. The University of California’s human resources division prepared a comprehensive presentation that outlines the scope of their talent management strategy between 2015 and 2019. In it, they start by defining a value continuum from the high-priority, time-sensitive tasks to their tactical goals, to their overall vision for their future. For each category (employee relations, benefits packages, etc.), the University of California defines a strategic theme, mission, the objective of each strategy, and future implications.
The Southern Ontario-based county starts its talent management strategy deck with an executive summary, followed by a definition of a talent management strategy. Peterborough County goes as far as including various statistics and chart data to demonstrate the importance of talent management. Their strategy is similar to University of California’s. It starts with the strategic objectives which inform the strategy. It then informs recruitment selection, workforce planning, organizational design, and more.
Looking for other examples of effective strategies? SkillsHub lists five examples along with their strategic decks so you can have a better idea of how to formulate your own business’s strategy.
Talent management tools
While it’s perfectly acceptable to recruit without software, using a reputable recruitment platform can make the process easier, particularly if you have an organization with over 100 people. These tools can assist with tracking applications, video interviews, human capital management, or general recruitment. Here are a few examples:
- Applicant Tracking – Bullhorn, Greenhouse, SAP SuccessFactors, iCIMS, Jobvite, Workable, Workday
- Video Interviews – ConveyIQ, HireVue, Spark Hire, Wepow
- General Recruitment CRMs – Avature, Jibe, SmashFly, Talemetry, Yello
Employee engagement platforms
The other side of talent management tools is focused on keeping employees connected to the company. These other tools are known as employee engagement platforms and feedback assessment software. These use data to analyze the performance of your teams, collect feedback, and deliver you real-time insights on improving your business.
These options only scratch the surface when it comes to available technology. Other, more advanced options can use artificial intelligence to give you insights on the best candidate, but you have to be careful not to rely too heavily on AI, which can be just as biased as a human being. For other options on talent management tools, check out Ideal’s helpful infographic.
Tools for internal branding
Your company may also need software to brand your documents with your logo, design newsletters or blogs, or create flyers for networking events. We won’t go in-depth about your options (there are far too many to mention), but we highly recommend Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, as well as Canva.
You would be surprised how even the biggest and best companies fail to have a robust talent management strategy. They believe that they can cruise by without one, making important decisions on the fly. Yet foregoing a strategy can only result in a directionless company with high turnover and low employee engagement.
Talent management strategy is a large concept to tackle, especially in a single post. There are several moving parts that can be difficult to address, particularly if your business only has a handful of individuals. But by analyzing the various parts of a strategy, you can begin to understand how your business may adapt and create its own strategy. The more you work at it, the more you’ll start to see a change in professionalism and productivity of your own team. That alone will put your talent management ahead of some of the world’s leading brands.
Looking to read more blog posts about talent management and running a business? Check out Novel Coworking’s blog.
Learn about Growth Hacking and how it benefits your team!
Why is talent management increasingly important for companies?
If you want to run a successful business, start with your talent. Capital investments can help you pay for licenses, software, and equipment, but it’s the people you work with who will really get things done. Implementing a solid talent management strategy ensures that your best people stick around, saving you money and further developing the brand culture around your team.
What is talent management?
How do you keep skilled talent around? Incentivizing employees with high pay is one thing; building an inviting culture that makes them want to stay is another. Talent management involves the recruitment, management, and development of your business’s most important asset: your employees.
Maintaining a talented workforce is no easy feat, but formulating strong recruitment and retention strategies can help you keep your best employees for a long time. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the various concepts, steps, and best practices for ensuring your team is set up for success.
What are the main benefits of talent management?
- Stronger sense of community – The more you invest in your employees, the more they’ll give back to you. Proper training and team building activities can solidify the bonds between your workers, leading to more engaged employees, efficient processes and a happier workforce.
- Lower turnover – Losing employees can be costly- in terms of time, money, and morale. Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report estimated that replacing a departing worker earning a salary of $45,000 can cost $15,000. These costs include recruitment, interviews, and onboarding. Why not just retain your best employees?
- Developing careers – The most effective managers the best out of your team. They don’t just get things done, they ensure your employees are growing towards their career goals. When employees have an opportunity to learn and develop, they can work more productively and creatively.
- Higher client satisfaction – Talent management indirectly affects your end-user or customer. These individuals all have an impact on the public, whether they’re developing the very products that they will enjoy.
Positive reputation – Who doesn’t love a company that treats its employees well? Take care of your team, and they’ll be sure to let their closest friends and family know. Neglect your team and it’ll come back to hurt your reputation.
The 4 Key Components to a Talent Management System
Each company’s Talent Management System, whether a small startup or a medium-sized enterprise, has four main components:
Talent management begins with the talent you find and attract. Whether it’s through a recruitment website, a job fair, or a referral, recruitment processes are always worth thinking about. Attracting the right talent means more than the right job experience or skills; it also means finding the right personality to fit your company’s culture.
As a leader, you have the responsibility of growing your team. Teach them new skills, introduce them to experts, and cultivate a passion for their work. A well-developed worker can bring more dynamic solutions to the table. Additionally, they’re less likely to leave since they have the constant opportunity to improve on their abilities.
Finding skilled workers is only one part of the equation. You also have to ensure they stay motivated and happy so they come into work every morning feeling energized. Develop a culture of inclusivity and empowerment, then reinforce it with team building and motivational activities. This might involve getting the company together for a team lunch, or recognizing an employee’s exceptional work in a public manner. Motivated workers have no reason to leave their company.
Employee retention involves more than relevant training and a strong culture. It means tracking the professional development of each person, providing regular feedback, and constantly empowering them to do their best work.
Talent management strategies
What are the main types of talent management strategies?
Let’s walk through the main types of talent management strategies:
1) Talent acquisition – This aspect of talent management centers around sourcing new hires— either as fresh graduates, or previous workers looking for a new opportunity. Job descriptions, interviews, and onboarding all fall under this category.
2) Talent development – This type of talent management focuses on building workforce skills and experience. What are the key success metrics you’ll use to track an individual’s progression? How will you encourage them to keep developing?
3) Talent empowerment – How do you plan to keep your employees happy and inspired? It’s important for your company to track the overall sentiment of an individual towards the brand.
4) Talent retention – Finally, we have a whole area of talent management dedicated to retaining existing employees. For example, what rewards can you provide more senior members? As they stay with a company, they’ll have more reasons to leave— what can you do to convince them to stay?
What are some talent management initiatives?
Align your recruitment objectives with your brand mission and culture
Create a plan. First, outline your company’s mission, cultural values, and objectives. Many skills are teachable, but it’s fundamentally important to find people who align culturally with your business. You can always train people to develop technical skills, but you can’t train a mindset.
On a more tactical level, spend some time to fully understand everything about the open position — not just the requirements, but also how the person will ultimately fit in the organization.
Once you have a solid grasp of how the recruitment syncs up with your organizational goals, you can start on the next step— reaching out to potential applicants.
Focus on recruitment messaging
Making a strategy is just the beginning. The next challenge is to make sure that applicants are on the same page. Though it might be clear to the company, the applicant may have a different perspective.
For example, a job description might suggest the need for someone that excels in communication skills and client relationships, but in reality, the client might find themselves working exclusively on spreadsheets and documents. As much as you may be tempted to augment the job description, transparency and accuracy should always take precedence.
“Every company wants to portray itself in the best light and use euphemistic words and at the same time capture their company’s strengths and challenges,” says Elizabeth Laukka, a recruiter specializing in placing advertising, public relations, and digital professionals. “So when writing a description I make sure candidates know what they are applying for and that our descriptions are attracting the right culture fit which is so important when hiring.”
Looking for some podcasts on all things recruitment? Take a look at the Recruitment On The Go podcast by Harver. Each episode is only about 10 – 15 minutes long but will give you plenty of insights on improving your recruitment messaging.
Developing a retention plan
First, calculate your retention rate. While you should always work on improving retention, you won’t know how serious of an issue it is until you start doing the math. Calculate turnover rate by taking the average number of employees, dividing it by the number of employees leaving, and multiplying it by 100. You can calculate this monthly or yearly. Learning your retention rate is always a good practice, especially if have a larger team, just so you can understand your retention relative to your competition or industry.
You may also want to conduct exit interviews with employees that leave. Recruiting interviews are typically thought of as the most important, but exit interviews are just as necessary. These interviews can provide valuable insights into why employees leave. You may discover new places for improvement within your organizational structure, workplace culture, or expectations. Additionally, exit interviews allow you to terminate the professional relationship on a positive note. Keep in mind that not all employees may be willing to share their thoughts upon leaving, but it is always valuable to ask.
Want to learn more about crafting exit interviews? We recommend reading Harvard Business Review’s article, Making Exit Interviews Count.
Check out this TEDx Talk by Stefanie Stanislawski about taking your recruitment to the next level.
The importance of culture
Culture is a collection of your company’s attitudes, mindsets, and values that create a unique brand personality. With a solid and motivating culture in place, employees will flock to your company and feel more connected to the entire organization.
But even today, some of the biggest brands neglect the importance of cultivating team culture. They fail to realize how culture positively affects retention, workforce satisfaction, productivity, and countless other aspects of a business. Culture is more than writing core values on a wall— your team should see those values in action every single day.
Why is culture important?
Even outside of work, culture is a positive motivating force in people’s lives. Culture influences how we work, how we interact with others, and how we see ourselves. But without a proper understanding of a company’s beliefs or intentions, also known as core values, the brand becomes faceless, the work meaningless. Let’s explore the ways culture impacts our daily work.
Culture gives your team something to believe in beyond the work they do. The people over at Starbucks know that their business centers around selling coffee, but their core values are built around “a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome,” and “acting with courage.” Without these values, employees may not be aware of the greater impact their work has on the world at large.
Think about your favorite brands: companies like Zappos aren’t always groundbreaking with their products and services, but they have a firm understanding of the “how” and “why” behind their work. Their culture is based on mutual respect and trust for one another. As a result, their logos and brand names have become iconic in the pantheon of marketers. And it’s not just how they market externally— these companies have also mastered the art of internal branding. As a result, everyone throughout the business lives out the core values each day. That’s the difference between a promised brand culture and brand culture lived out.
Want to keep your employees around? Convince them! Often, culture will answer the questions, “Why should I stay” and “why am I doing this?” when the work starts to become overwhelming. Culture also builds employee loyalty, and creates a more collaborative community, reminding people they have friends and people to turn to in the office.
Recruiting top talent
Recruitment is often used interchangeably with hiring. The difference is that hiring focuses on finding the next employee, while recruitment is about finding the right employee. How can a company recruit successfully? Let’s explore.
Define your culture
We’ve covered the importance of culture, but defining your own culture is individual to each company. What makes your team unique? What are your ultimate goals? How do your mission and core values influence the type of people you hire? Once you have a firm understanding of your company’s differentiators, you’ll have a clearer view of the type of candidate you’ll want to recruit.
Define your audience (ideal candidate)
Just as you have specific customer audiences in mind, you should also define a specific candidate that will best fit your brand. If your candidate has impressive experience but is not a cultural fit, then you’re not likely to see them stick around for too long.
Position your brand
Brand positioning refers to the strategic act of creating and controlling the customer’s perception of a brand. For example, Aldi positions itself as an eco-friendly, cost-effective alternative to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, while Apple positions itself as the luxury lifestyle brand compared to HP or Windows.
Positioning also affects your potential employees’ perception. Websites like Glassdoor can help you understand how your company is seen compared to competitors in the industry. You won’t be able to go after all the talent, but by carefully positioning your brand to your target employees, you can better understand the best channels and messaging to use to reach them. We recommend checking out this blog post by HubSpot on brand positioning.
Leverage your employees’ connections
Job sites are great, but if you really want to be selective with your recruitment process, start with your employees’ connections. Your internal network can be highly effective at selecting culturally-aligned candidates because they already have the insight into what kind of person fits within the company. And since they’re responsible for the person they’re onboarding, they’ll make extra sure to mentor and develop them throughout their stay.
Hire different types of workers
Full-time employees are invaluable but don’t forget about finding remote workers, contractors, and partners as well. Top talent can take shape in many ways. Some of the most effective workers have limited schedules or live abroad. Looking for tips to hire freelancers? Check out Workable’s in-depth blog post on the topic.
Tips for interviewing potential employees
You’ve successfully posted the job listing and received a solid pool of applications. Now it’s time to narrow it down— here’s where the interview comes in.
At this point, it may be wise to review your recruitment strategy and your job description. Understand what the team is looking for and remind yourself of exactly what the applicant read when they applied.
Check out the image below from TalentLyft that shows a few best practices for job ad optimization.
Asking the right questions
Most phone interviews are about 15 minutes long, while others can run up to an hour. Make sure you spend each minute trying to find out as much as you can about the applicant’s motivation and experience. In other words, ask the right questions, and ask a wide range of questions.
Below are a few questions that will keep the conversation more dynamic than the typical “Tell me about yourself”:
- What kind of work excites you and motivates you to get out of bed on Monday morning?
- How do you deal with different personalities in the workplace?
- What personal or professional mistakes have you’ve learned the most from?
- If you were our CEO, what’s the first thing you would do?
- If you get the job, what do you hope to accomplish in your first week, month and year?
For more powerful job interview questions, check out this recruiterbox article.
How can you make an interview more effective? According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it is best to ask a combination of interview techniques.
The importance of structure while doing an interview can have a major impact on the responses you hear, so tailor it to match the type of work you do.
- Structured interviews follow an established list of questions. These are the most common types of interviews you’ll see where the interviewer (or interviewers) asks the applicant about previous job experience.
- Nondirective interviews are more impromptu and open-ended. They’re more conversation and involve subjective responses. For example, one question might be “Tell me what you know about this company.”
- Situational interviews pose hypotheticals for the applicant to consider, such as “what would you do if you had a conflict with a coworker?” This interview technique forces the applicant to be creative in their problem-solving approaches.
Structured interviews are typically best for entry-level retail or hospitality positions. Nondirective interviews allow managers and leaders to share their feedback and speak their mind freely. Situational interviews are recommended for creative or problem-solving oriented roles. Interview structure can have a major impact on the responses you hear, so make sure it matches the type of work they’ll be doing.
Ongoing ways to build employee loyalty and advocacy
The turnover problem
The turnover rate in the United States hit an all-time high last year at 19.3%, up almost a full percentage point from the year prior. It’s no secret that companies have a hard time keeping talent around, but the issue has become even more salient in the past five years.
So, what’s behind the rise?
- Better opportunities – other businesses are luring talent away with higher pay, more inclusive cultures, and stronger benefits.
- Burnout – traditional business models, particularly those used in hospitality and manufacturing industries, is quickly exhausting its workforce for little pay.
- Lack of advancement – some individuals would like to move up in the career ladder, but feel stuck in their position or constantly get ignored.
Turnover can be costly. Turnover can also affect morale within the team and even with customers and clients. Why stick around a team that loses so many of its great employees? In turn, low morale can negatively impact worker productivity. That’s why the importance of talent retention cannot be understated.
What factors affect retention?
A guide by SHRM indicates 7 best practices to increase employee retention. They are as follows:
4) Training and development
5) Compensation and rewards
7) Employee Engagement
Let’s dive into how each one can affect your company.
Your hiring practices directly affect your retention plan. Make sure your new hires know what they’re getting themselves into when they sign on. The more accurately the position is represented, the faster they can decide whether the job is suitable for them.
The selection process in your recruitment can be pivotal in determining turnover. Previous work and leadership experience can predict an individual’s loyalty to a company. For example, who are you more likely to hire— the applicant who has worked a decade with one company, or someone who has changed companies each year for a decade?
Do you know what can make an impact on a person’s decision to stay with a company? The people! Socialization and team-building practices can make new hires feel like they’re part of a strong community, in turn making them more likely to stay. Activities like company outings, team lunches, and mentorship programs build a sense of community that is imperative to any positive office environment. Consider an office design that fosters collaboration, instead of division. Ditch those outdated cubicles for a more open space, either a coworking space or a shared suite.
4) Training and Development
Invest in your employees’ future, and they’ll repay you with loyalty. From the moment you recruit a new employee, make each day a learning opportunity. Help them to develop new skills, attain certifications, and meet industry leaders. When you combine that with cultural education and team building, turnover becomes less and less of a problem.
5. Compensation and rewards.
Money isn’t everything, but it can certainly influence recruitment. All things equal, people will tend to go with a higher paying position. And why wouldn’t they? Money leads to options. However, getting a salary just right can be difficult. A low paying salary means your talent may be swayed by more lucrative options. However, a higher paying salary may not guarantee an employee that’s happy to stay.
One solution is to reward your employees for seniority. That may take shape in the form of additional vacation hours, opportunities to work from home, or even stock options. These incentives make staying at your company even more attractive with time.
Recruited individuals need some sort of leadership support when they have questions or suggestions. Since supervisors are the ones that manage teams, their effective communication is key. Watch out for abusive supervisors— those that tend to argue or blame. Needless to say, abusive supervisors can lead to higher turnover.
7. Employee Engagement
Show your employees how important they are to you! When you do the same thing day in and day out, it can feel like a meaningless and monotonous routine. Everyone needs a purpose to feel inspired–help your employees find theirs and guide them to become their most productive selves. Change your team’s perspective on work and empower them to see the impact they are capable of.
Five Employee Retention Best Practices
- Track retention rate – Measuring retention is the best way to determine the severity of the problem. Without tracking the data, you won’t be able to even answer why your recruits are leaving. Tracking is the first step to improving retention rates.
- Promote a healthy work-life balance – Your employees’ personal lives affect their work lives, so empower them to get enough sleep, eat healthily, and have time to spend alone or with their families. By taking care of themselves mentally and physically, your employees will be better equipped to focus and put in hard work in the office.
- Train the best supervisors – Supervisors will be the ones managing your recruits. So, find and train ones that care about their job, that inspire and empower instead of blaming others.
- Develop an effective hiring process – The best recruits don’t just appear, they’re carefully selected after a long and thorough process. Make sure you know your reasons for recruiting and take the necessary steps to perfect it from start to finish.
- Reward your employees – Whether it’s through additional benefits or higher pay, show your employees that you care. Reward them for a job well done whenever you can and continue providing feedback for their work, and you’ll only see better results over time.
Retaining employees takes work and commitment. It involves collaboration with people from different departments and investing in changes that may not have immediate effects. But a company is only as good as the people that help run it. By focusing on recruiting the best of the best, you can set your company on the path for growth.
Think long and hard about how you will find your ideal worker, and how you intend to keep him or her around. The answer won’t be immediately clear— it may take years and countless conversations to get there. But the health and future of your whole company depend on those who invest their time into it. Even in a business with over a thousand employees, one individual’s diligence and ingenuity can ripple throughout the whole organization.
Looking for more guidance on attracting and retaining talent? Visit Novel Coworking’s blog for weekly content on entrepreneurship, productivity, and much more.
Employee training forms the foundation of a strong company. Without it, employees would fail their responsibilities or never do anything on time. Yet so many companies make training an afterthought in their plans. For example, interns are often taught to “shadow” employees, with little explanation or context. The result: they end up copying the employee exactly but do not understand why their work is important or how they can improve.
Mentors help to solve this issue. Instead of asking employees to shadow, set them up with a mentor. A thoughtful mentorship program is sure to produce stronger work and inspire more leaders.
What does it mean to be a mentor at work?
Mentors are individuals that use their experience to train and develop someone less experienced. Within the workplace, a mentor has two levels of responsibility. The first is to ensure that mentees are accomplishing tasks and growing professionally. The second involves a much deeper understanding of their personal goals and career aspirations. Ultimately the mentor acts as a guide to newer employees to become the best version of themselves, personally and professionally.
Who can be a mentor at work?
It’s a common misconception that mentors need to be older or more senior to carry out their role. Mentors need only have enough experience to properly train and develop someone. In these cases, mentors are often people who have been in a certain position for a few years. Some may reach C-level status, others may be ordinary managers with two years of seniority. What matters is that the mentor is willing to guide a mentee (such as an intern) through an otherwise complicated process and development journey.
Types of Mentors
- Traditional Mentor – The most common type, this mentor is a few positions higher than the trainee and acts as a guide to the workplace.
- Peer Mentor – Mentors that have roughly the same experience and seniority. For example, two interns starting the job together.
- Reverse Mentor – When a younger person trains a more senior professional.For example, somebody who is helping a more senior professional with new technology.
- Senior Mentor – Someone with over a decade of experience walking you through the strategy.
For more in-depth explanations for each one (and a fifth mentor relationship), check out this Medium article.
Benefits of Mentorship Programs
- Stronger employee retention and engagement – Employees need to have someone to turn to when they have questions. When they feel more supported and guided, they are more willing to stick around and actively contribute. One study of 5,000 newly hired professionals found that being part of a mentor relationship correlated with higher organizational commitment.
- Salary increases and promotions – In a five-year, 1000 employee study by Gartner, one-fourth of respondents said that those enrolled in a mentoring program had a salary grade change, compared to the 5% that did not participate. Trainees were also five times more likely to be promoted than those not in a program.
- Mentor benefits – Mentors also gain from the relationship. They learn to become more helpful leaders with more direct impact on the organization’s goals. This leads to a greater sense of control and importance within the workplace.
Tips to Implement a Mentorship Program
- Focus on the mentor-mentee match. Finding the right chemistry between mentor and mentee can be tricky, but it’s also the most important part. Some companies use algorithms. others make it the mentor’s choice. Ideally, you’ll want to find a mentor that has been through similar roles and responsibilities of the mentee. However, it really depends on your company.
- Create an atmosphere of curiosity and open-mindedness. Being a mentee can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new. Mentors should always encourage the mentee to ask questions and try new approaches.
- Outline the nature of the mentorship. Mentors are teachers, not micromanagers. They can point you towards the right path and give you best practices, but they can’t hold your hand while you do it. The objective of mentorship is to set the mentee up to be autonomous.
- Schedule regular check-ins. Sometimes a one-on-one meeting is the most effective way to gauge how the mentorship program is implemented. This gives the mentee the space and time to voice any concerns while allowing the mentor to track their overall progress.
Mentorship programs can completely transform the entire nature of a business. It can make all the difference between a solid hire and a deadweight. Concentrate on finding the common pain points of the mentee and leverage the mentor’s experience to help guide their way. Your company will be stronger and happier for it.
Mentorship programs can be tricky business, especially without an understanding of office politics. Read our guide to office politics here.
Mentorship relies heavily on a clearly defined company culture. Read this post to learn why company culture is so important.
Looking for other guides that can help build a more productive workplace? Visit Novel Coworking’s blog today for more articles.