The Mentoring program at Michigan Tech provides employees the opportunity to learn from experts to develop and grow in their career and balance work and life challenges. It is a relationship which supports learning and performance improvement through facilitated problem solving and clear guidance. The mentors help assess the mentee’s strengths and suggest ways to grow in their personal and professional lives. This increases the likelihood of retention and career success and fosters an inclusive, diverse, and collaborative environment.
Since receiving a grant from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) in 2015, Michigan Tech began to develop a staff mentoring program. The success of the program in its first year paved way to the second cohort of trained mentors. The second cohort consisted of 20 mentors who graduated from the staff mentoring training program and have since been matched with mentees. After the graduation of the second cohort, WorkLife Connections at Michigan Tech carried out a mentee survey and two mentor focus groups to assess the progress and development of the mentoring program.
The data from the survey suggests that the mentoring program has been successful in helping mentees learn more about Michigan Tech. 80% of respondents stated that they were able to learn more about the university and its various departments and services from their mentors. 50% revealed that the mentoring program helped them develop their network of colleagues and 40% stated that it provided them with knowledge of a career path. 30% of respondents also stated that the program helped them develop their interpersonal and communication skills and helped gain knowledge of a different job function.
According to the survey results and the focus group discussions, the mentoring program provided an avenue for the mentees and the mentors to discuss a range of issues: childcare, resume and LinkedIn building, and improving the mentees relationship with their department and supervisors. The mentoring program is a dynamic partnership built on mutual respect, trust, and the sharing of ideas and experiences. The program proved to be especially useful for those mentees who were new to the region and to Michigan Tech. The mentors were able to give them the proper guidance, tools, and institutional knowledge to help them succeed and become a part of the campus community.
With the help of the Gallup Strengths Finder Test, mentors assessed the individual strengths of their mentees and advised them on areas they could work towards improving. For those mentees that were unsure of their goals and what they wanted to get out of the mentoring program when they first joined, it was revealed that the presence of a mentor to act as a sounding board helped them better streamline their thought process and set benchmarks in their personal and professional lives.
A number of mentors stated that they were able to impart their knowledge of specific skills to their mentees. For example, one mentor was able to teach a mentee how to do an audit; another mentor helped a mentee in creating budget projections for their supervisor. One of the mentors successfully guided their mentee into their new position and helped the mentee improve their interviewing skills by providing practice interview sessions and feedback.
If an employee is unhappy, it shows in their work, their interactions and in their behavior. One mentor suggested that the university make use of the mentoring program as an institution-wide system of development to improve their staff, faculty, and students experience. The mentoring program is a great support network for those in need of professional guidance on campus. The data from our survey and focus groups suggest that the Michigan Tech mentoring program brings value to various stakeholders at many levels—mentees, mentors, supervisors, colleagues, the university and the campus community. The mentees have an opportunity to gain practical knowledge and insight from an experienced employee who has achieved a level of expertise they aspire to attain. The mentors have an opportunity to expand their repertoire of professional knowledge and skills through their instruction and facilitation of the mentee. Finally, the university has the opportunity to further develop and disseminate the wealth of talent, skill and knowledge of its employees.
Learn more about Michigan Tech’s Mentoring Program at the WorkLife Connections Website.