In addition to significant interaction with a direct manager throughout the onboarding process, many companies assign a new hire to one or more peer mentors. The traditional concept of mentoring pairs a new employee with a senior member of the team. That works, but peer mentors don’t have to have several years of experience under their belt to be an effective component of the onboarding process.
Research and real-life experience shows that peer mentoring is good for both mentors and mentees. Mentees get help with self-directed learning and access to another colleague’s insights while building supportive relationships within the company. Mentors develop leadership skills and, by virtue of being asked to be a mentor, are recognized for their hard work and accomplishments.
Peer mentoring provides a more informal setting in which new hires can ask questions, express concerns and share thoughts about what they are experiencing as they settle into their job. A peer mentor who is closer themselves to their onboarding experience may have insights and stories that more experienced team members do not.
Peer mentoring should be more about providing psychosocial support and showcasing a collaborative attitude than evaluating a new hire’s work and pointing out mistakes. The best peer mentors are active listeners, empathetic and generous with their time. At the same time, they are not hesitant to provide direct feedback.
In the current environment of remote work, peer mentorship is an increasingly important component of ensuring employee wellness. Although part of its effectiveness lies in the less formal construct of the relationship, peer mentorships should include scheduled check-ins, formal training for mentors, guidance from managers and 360-degree evaluations.