BY JAMES BLAIN
A strong onboarding process is key in the competitive ground transportation industry. However, it does more than just introduce new employees to their roles. The real goal is to help new hires reach their full potential. How? Through a combination of introductory training through programs (like PAX), hands-on training, mentorship, and well-targeted feedback.
These elements lift employees from beginners to experienced, customer-focused professionals. Let’s explore why mentorship is vital to effective onboarding in this fast-paced industry.
Understanding Mentorship and Its Importance
Mentorship is a strategic relationship between a more experienced individual (the mentor) and a typically less experienced individual (the mentee). The objective is to foster professional and personal growth by providing an environment where knowledge, skills, and experiences are shared.
In the luxury ground transportation industry context, mentors are seasoned professionals who help new hires understand the industry’s intricacies and serve as a resource when the new employee has questions. They can also provide more than just operational training; they offer insights into the company culture (see: bit.ly/3NZTnNj), company dynamics, and practical strategies for handling various situations unique to the organization’s type of work.
Consider, for instance, a situation where a new hire encounters a difficult client who consistently complains or is taking their bad day out on them. A mentor with extensive experience can provide invaluable advice on managing the situation—maintaining professionalism and utilizing effective communication strategies to address the client’s concerns by diffusing the situation.
It is also important to note that mentorship is not a one-way street; it’s a reciprocal relationship that also benefits the mentor. Mentorship can also have the effect of causing the mentor to take a closer look at what they do each day and lead them to think about their work in ways they usually wouldn’t, especially if the mentee is offering a fresh perspective or highlighting a new trend. It can also enhance their communication skills, give them a sense of pride in being able to share what they do, and improve their own leadership skills in the process.
The Power of Feedback
Positive and real feedback is the cornerstone of continuous improvement and professional growth (see: bit.ly/43c9fAI). It serves as a mirror reflecting the areas of strength and those needing improvement. Often when a new hire hits the road, they will only receive feedback if something wrong happens or there is an incident. Having a mentor that meets with them regularly can help establish a pattern of positive feedback and reinforcement.
Why Is Feedback Important?
❱ Self-awareness: It helps individuals to identify and understand their strengths and areas needing improvement. It fosters self-awareness, which is crucial for personal development and growth.
❱ Enhancing performance: Individuals can fine-tune their performance and productivity through constructive feedback.
❱ Encouraging engagement: It promotes a culture of open communication and engagement, making individuals feel valued and part of the team.
❱ Professional development: Regular feedback assists in identifying opportunities for training and skill development.
Implementing Effective Feedback
How and when you deliver your advice and suggestions are just as important as what you are saying:
❱ Create a safe environment: Make sure your feedback is given in a supportive and non-threatening manner.
❱ Be specific and timely: Don’t wait to give a pat on the back or address specific behaviors or actions. Provide feedback as soon as possible after the event.
❱ Encourage two-way communication: Allow the receiver to respond and ask questions. This not only clarifies any misunderstanding but also promotes open communication. Regardless of whether the feedback is good or bad, they can only learn and grow by fully understanding how to improve.
5 Key Factors in Choosing a Mentor
Choosing the right mentors is pivotal to a successful onboarding journey (see: bit.ly/44vsiXJ) and longer-term retention. Consider these aspects when selecting:
❱ Experience and knowledge: Select a mentor with experience and knowledge. Although they don’t always need to have long tenure, they need to be the kind of person you can trust to always do the right thing, even when no one else is looking.
❱ Aligned values and goals: An effective mentor must resonate with your company’s values and understand your company’s vision. This alignment fosters a more effective guidance process.
❱ Commitment: The mentor you choose should be ready to dedicate time and effort to the mentorship process. A mentor who isn’t consistent or available to their mentee when they need them isn’t going to help the new hire grow in their role.
❱ Communication skills: Look for a mentor who has strong communication skills. They should be active listeners, articulate, and adept at giving clear, constructive feedback.
❱ Positive outlook: Choose a mentor who is positive and inspiring. They should motivate their mentee to always perform at their best, learn from mistakes, and consistently strive for growth and improvement.
Emphasizing Accountability in Mentorship
Accountability is the backbone of an effective mentorship program. It hinges on mentors and mentees owning their roles, actions, and commitments in the mentorship journey.
For mentors, it involves routinely fulfilling their commitment to the mentee, showing up regularly, and providing honest and constructive feedback. An accountable mentor sets a powerful example, fostering a sense of responsibility in the mentee. It also reinforces the trust and respect within the mentorship relationship.
On the flip side, mentees must also uphold accountability. This involves actively participating in the mentorship, committing to their personal development, and acting on the advice and feedback provided by their mentor. When mentees are accountable, they maximize the value gained from the mentorship, contributing to their overall growth and development.
The Value of Combining Structured Training With Mentorship
Mentorship goes beyond structured, curriculum-based learning. It adds a layer of personalized guidance, support, and accountability, significantly boosting the trainees’ learning outcomes. The combined power of a structured training program and mentorship helps transition new hires from entry-level workers to seasoned professionals, ready to face any challenges they may encounter. [CD0723]
James Blain is President of PAX Training. He can be reached at email@example.com.