For years, accelerators, VCs and entrepreneurs have touted the impact of mentorship on a company’s founder. Having someone with whom they can walk through a pitch deck, ask for recommendations for their first key hires or even add to their company’s advisory board is an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs, especially as their company grows.
But mentorship among a company’s employees can also boost the company’s culture, leading to a better-supported, more confident, more productive workforce. In-house recruiters and HR managers at Colorado tech companies are starting to take notice and are implementing perks and programs designed to give employees plenty of opportunities for professional development.
“A big thing we really like to focus on is keeping good employees, and I think you do that by providing internal tools like mentorship, continuing education and building a positive work environment,” said Meghan Schreiber, Senior Talent Acquisition and Human Resource Manager for Personal Capital.
Building that positive work environment begins even before an employee’s first day. Companies should have strong training and onboarding practices in place to ensure employees know what’s expected of them — and what they can expect from the company.
At IT consulting firm CapTech, recent college graduates participate in the CapTech Boot Camp, where they spend their first month on the job managing a project from start to finish, learning from consulting competency and skill trainings along the way. It’s a program with major payoff for the company: 87 percent of the company’s college hires are still part of their team today.
Personal Capital’s onboarding involves one to two weeks of hands-on training with a Team Leader, who then becomes a mentor for the new employee as they grow in the company.
“Training is an ongoing effort,” said Schreiber. “Regardless of how long you’ve been here, you’re always going to be learning.”
CapTech matches new employees with career counselors who help them plan their professional growth at the company and act as advocates on their behalf. New consultants are also paired with a mentor after completing an interest profile so they can find their perfect match.
“One of our core values is servant leadership,” said Emily Krause, CapTech’s Director of Marketing. “This creates an environment where knowledge sharing and lifting up those around you are the norm. Everyone is invested in the success of those around them.”
CapTech offers 15 continuing education sessions every month, nurturing an active learning environment and ensuring employees’ continued skill development.
For their associates, Personal Capital has a formal bridge program designed to help the junior employees become advisors. The four-month program dives deeper on different topics and skill sets they’d need to become an advisor.
“It’s been a big emphasis of ours to promote from within,” said Schreiber. “So each of our team leaders have been in the role before. They know what it’s like. We’ve noticed more of a need for ongoing education and to bridge the gap from a junior level role to a senior level role.”
Once associates have made their way into an advisor role, Personal Capital offers up to $5,000 toward the Certified Financial Planner exam, helping them earn a certification that will take their careers to the next level.
CapTech offers similar benefits, sponsoring certification exams and professional organization memberships.
“We have a true learning culture,” said Krause. “We have taken a fresh approach to talent management and are tailoring our internal systems to give our people continuous growth opportunity.”
For Schreiber, getting to know each employee individually is key to the mentor-mentee relationship.
“Taking feedback from employees is important as to how they’re motivated and what works for them,” she said. “Getting to know them is going to be the best way to establish trust up front. It’s more organic and natural — it’s about getting to know your employees. Naturally, people will come to the top as leaders and managers. You need to understand the needs of each employee and go from there.”
To take the pressure off — and to lower that initial “getting to know each other” barrier — Personal Capital regularly hosts informal social events like group coffee outings, happy hours and Rockies games. And they honor employee birthdays and work anniversaries across the office with monthly celebrations where members of the team can come together to enjoy each other’s company.
Ultimately, at both Personal Capital and CapTech, the success of mentorship and professional growth programs comes down to how they’re supported by other elements of the company’s culture.
“Mentorship runs hand in hand with your overall culture,” said Schreiber. “Have an open, collaborative culture where employees feel like their ideas are being heard.”
Photo via Personal Capital.
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