Owner of 12 businesses shares tips on innovative ways to mentor staff

| August 27, 2021

Training and upskilling staff has always been important to an organisation’s growth and an individual’s career progression, but more so now as businesses fight to remain open, bottom lines are suffering, more skills are needed, and top talent is at a shortage.

As a business owner, you’re often torn in different directions and there’s always a crucial task or deadline that needs your attention, but it’s important to also prioritise training your team. This is more so the case during the difficult lockdown situation when everyone is working remotely. I’ve learned over the years that being hands-off doesn’t work – you need to be actively involved.

In fact, Research reveals 87 per cent of jobs now require digital skills and 156,000 new tech workers are needed to keep up. However, time-poor business leaders and employees alike often struggle to find time, and may see training as a burden over a benefit – particularly when working remotely during the tough lockdown situation.

I know many companies still give employees formal training – often when they start or an annual day of learning – but the results aren’t always as effective as they might hope. Regular shorter sessions over blocks of hours can be more valuable, in addition to a mix of formal and informal training with a range of team members across different levels of seniority. Remember, everyone has a different style of learning and the way they work may have changed since the pandemic, so it’s important to be accommodating.

5 tips on innovative ways to mentor and train employees remotely and during lockdown:   

  1. Schedule daily check-ins over weekly catch-ups. Nick is a strong believer of troubleshooting issues as they arise, rather than waiting until the end of the week or a set allocated time. Not only will employees benefit from having a sounding board as needed but it ensures they aren’t wasting time on a challenge that could have been solved quickly. Nick does short 15-minute huddles with his senior management teams daily via Zoom, which they then do with their own departments.
  2. Organise peer-led training to establish an active learning culture. Everyone has an area in which they are knowledgeable on, regardless of their job title or experience. Leveraging this not only reduces time required by managers but it also fosters a better company culture of learning and shows trust and value in employees. With 12 global agencies and 1000-plus employees to learn from, Nick organises peer-led Zoom training and collaboration on a weekly basis for his staff. Prior to the pandemic, he also had employees spend time learning in overseas offices. Among new starters, Nick has set up a buddy system for their first month, so new employees can be shown the ropes by existing staff – virtually now, of course.
  3. Consider giving employees access to mentors outside of the business. While it’s important for staff to be trained from those within the business, learning from external experts and leaders can offer a new perspective to help an individual’s personal or career development. Whether it be a business perk or incentive when meeting a KPI, consider rewarding employees with access to external leaders such as business coaches or through global online mentoring platforms such as Lisnic, which gives access to some of the brightest and well-known stars of business, entrepreneurship, academia, and sport.
  4. Have employees set their own KPIs. Traditionally, organisations set employee KPIs, which they would then be required to achieve. However, having employees set their own goals with managers and present their achievements, holds them more accountable for their performance, leads to an increased willingness to meet their own goals (rather than those set for them), and also gives time back to managers.
  5. Provide ongoing access to online learning platforms. With so many educational platforms now available at your fingertips, businesses can upskill employees by providing access to learning platforms relevant to their industry. For instance, Nick gives new starters – and existing employees – access to Google training and Hubspot Academy two weeks prior to them starting. “There is no obligation for them to use these platforms, but it gives them the choice for self-learning and upskilling as needed.”