No matter the industry, mentorship can be a huge factor in attracting, developing, and retaining an employee’s professional potential. The ability for new hires to learn on the job from skilled mentors results in increased workplace collaboration and competency—and it’s not just good for the mentee. By accepting the role of mentor, senior employees also gain the opportunity to develop their leadership and communication skills, as well as look for patterns and approaches to the job they may not have considered before.
Mentorship programs are used by 84% of Fortune 500 companies, and tech mentorship programs especially can be effective in an industry that depends on innovation. ERD is proud to offer our own mentorship opportunities to our biomedical technicians, creating opportunities for on-the-job learning, so they’re equipped to work on a wide variety of equipment, including general medical devices as well as specialized systems. ERD specializes in operating room lights/booms/integration, sterile processing department machinery, and operating room tables. Mentorship gives new employees and those looking for career advancement first-hand experience servicing vital devices and technologies in healthcare facilities throughout the west coast.
However, useful mentorship is tricky to do right, and business owners and managers considering adopting their own programs need to strike a balance between overly-structured mentor/mentee interaction and the occasional simple Q and A session over coffee. Let’s take a look at how your business can effectively implement tech mentorship programs that serve your workforce.
What Exactly Are Tech Mentorship Programs?
At its most basic purpose, mentorship fosters a personal relationship. Traditionally, it’s assumed that a mentor is someone older than the mentee, but in a professional setting, this isn’t necessarily required. What’s most important in a productive mentor/mentee relationship is that the mentor is experienced enough to provide skill training, company knowledge, and job context so their mentee can feel as though they have the guidance and resources to succeed in their position.
Actual mentorship programs can be structured in many different ways, but the end goal is to provide a worthwhile experience for both parties—and ensure the continued competency and development of your staff. Jojo Gonzales, Senior Manager of Clinical Technology Management at Kaiser Permanente Tech, describes the keys to effective learning through mentorship as “study, do, write, and teach.” Mentorship programs should provide opportunities for all of these things while remembering the basic human relationship at the heart of the arrangement.
At ERD, we prioritize hands-on technician training for new hires and employees who feel like they would benefit from a mentor/mentee relationship. ERD has a long history of hiring students and members of the community to further their abilities and knowledge of our important work. Although we have hundreds of clients, we realize that one of the key components of our mentoring program is helping our employees integrate within the community they are serving.
By the end of the mentorship, both the mentor and mentee should feel accomplished. Maybe it’s building those new skills, gaining insight into the company, or most of all tech mentorships exist to foster interpersonal relationships. Mentors should focus on communicating the necessary information in a way that helps a mentee envision their role at the company—not just a list of data points or protocols. Implementing a mentorship program allows for team building and higher rates of employee engagement. 9 out of 10 workers with mentors reported higher levels of job satisfaction.
4 Secrets of The Best Mentoring Programs
Mentor/mentee relationships can look very different, and a one-size-fits-all strategy might not work for the specific needs of your company. However, the best tech mentorship programs share some common traits. Here are some of the principles that the ERD takes to heart when establishing a successful mentorship program.
Explain The Mentoring Process
One of the managers for an LA area hospital recently described the ERD team as “highly motivated and skillful” technicians who identify issues and offer solutions, and more importantly “you can trust them.” Trust is an integral part of our mentorship program, and it comes from mentees being put in a position to ask questions and potentially fail. Being able to talk to and gain insight from someone who’s done the job already ensures that, by the time our mentees are ready to interface with clients, that trust extends throughout all members of the team—and it’s something that people notice.
The process of your mentor program can work however you like! But whatever it is, make sure that your whole staff understands what it will be. Again, mentorship is about human relationships, so start by soliciting feedback from your staff about things they want in a mentor/mentee relationship. Are there specific skills that they believe are more important than others for new hires to learn? What kind of time commitment would mentors be willing to give to their mentees? What kinds of things do they wish they could have learned quicker, more efficiently, or more in-depth when they first started?
Mentor programs can also range in length, level of involvement, or physical structure of the program. Perhaps your company is small enough that you can implement a 1-to-1 system, wherein each mentee has one mentor they can contact at specific (or not so specific) times throughout the week. On the other hand, if you have a large number of employees, they might benefit from group mentoring sessions with senior employees. That way, everyone gets the opportunity to hear the general guidance that will serve them well, along with a level of group accountability. Maybe your mentors and mentees get lunch and fill out progress reports once per month, or maybe a manager can schedule mock interview sessions with multiple team members to boost their confidence.
The combinations are essentially limitless, and some experimentation might be necessary before you find the system that works best for your environment. Regardless, once the process has been decided, take the time to circulate the information to your staff in a memo or team meeting. That way, everyone will be on the same page before the program begins.
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Provide Mentorship Training
Mentors are valuable assets to new hires, and even have the potential to shape how their mentees think. Because of their influence, these roles come with a fair amount of responsibility—not to mention a time commitment. That’s why it’s best to offer guidance and training to mentors who want to get involved in the program, which could take the form of providing best practice guidelines, sharing short training videos, or having steps in place in case mentors feel overwhelmed in their duties.
Managers need to make time to provide support for and reference materials for mentors, especially in the early stages of the program, to keep the experience positive for everyone involved. By finding the right combination of mentors and mentees, ERD produces competent Biomed technicians. The key difference is allowing our technicians to learn in a structured, real-world environment with oversight from a knowledgeable supervisor—creating a generational foundation of knowledge that goes beyond just theory.
Choose Program Participants
While good mentor relationships are beneficial for almost everyone, it’s important to identify the employees that would be best served by a mentorship program—both the mentors and mentees. Underutilized talent is a prime candidate for mentorship. Identifying the right candidates for tech mentorship programs can lead to greater workplace diversity and increased career mobility for those involved.
Ideal candidates include new hires who may need additional oversight as they learn company protocols or experienced employees to help recognize their strengths. In fact, recent studies have shown that only 29% of new hires feel adequately prepared for their job before starting. Similarly, new managers can also benefit from a mentorship program as they prepare to take on additional responsibilities. Mentorship programs can help both mentors and mentees alike develop leadership skills that prepare them to collaborate better with the teams they oversee.
Define The Program’s Goal
Perhaps the most important aspect of a tech membership program is deciding what specific issues you’d like to address beforehand. Choosing the goals for your program and being transparent about them are crucial aspects of developing a successful program. This allows for mentors and mentees to have common goals to work towards with specific benchmarks to achieve and measure progress. Without goals, mentor/mentee relationships can feel futile and frustrating for both parties.
At ERD, we work directly with essential medical equipment, and our clients count on us to make sure their specialized equipment is functioning the way it’s supposed to—exactly when it’s needed. Therefore, some of our mentorship goals include producing competent Biomed technicians who are: trained on the latest protocols and technologies they will encounter in the field, able to communicate effectively with staff members at various levels of authority, comfortable taking accountability for the role they are filling and the services they provide, and are useful members of the community they serve. Mentors provide real-life examples of these goals in practice and give mentees a role model to emulate as they begin their careers.
Wrapping Things Up
Tech mentorship programs are great opportunities for employees of different backgrounds and experience levels to collaborate, build relationships, and develop skills—which can be tremendous assets for any competitive company. However, mentor programs have to be designed with intent and respect for the human relationships involved, as poor mentor experiences have been shown to dramatically impact job satisfaction levels and a company’s ability to attract talent. ERD is especially proud of our history of hiring students and working within the community to locate and properly mentor/train individuals to be great Biomed technicians. To learn more about our mentorship program, the services we provide, and how we can work together, please contact us today!