How To Mentor When You’re Working Remotely

Shriya Sarang

26th Nov'22
How To Mentor When You’re Working Remotely | OpenGrowth

A crucial component of professional development is mentoring. However, it isn't necessarily required to take place in person. More and more mentoring interactions are occurring online as a result of the expansion of remote employment. With a few extra advantages, virtual mentoring can be just as productive as traditional mentoring. Remote mentors, for instance, may find it simpler to communicate with staff members who work in various time zones or regions. Online mentoring can also be more flexible, fitting hectic schedules and allowing the mentor and mentee to meet whenever it is most convenient for them. Let's explore the process of mentoring remotely.

As many people have learned over the past few months, working remotely has its own unique set of difficulties. Without the office camaraderie, you can find it difficult to adjust to remote communication, feel alienated from your colleagues, or lack motivation. However, being a mentor can make things more challenging. Giving technical advice or systematic ideas is only one aspect of mentoring; it is also an emotional process. So it may appear that what you can offer is significantly diminished if you can only mentor virtually. As opposed to in-person support, you simply cannot provide the same fluidity of contact or connection.


How Does Remote Mentoring Work?


remote mentoring


So what exactly is online mentoring? A less experienced employee and a more seasoned employee can benefit from remote mentorship. The new employee feels valued by the organization thanks to the exchange of knowledge, skills, and corporate history. This enables the worker to advance and prosper alongside the business or employer they are employed.

What is the best method for approaching remote mentoring in general? First, from the beginning, be upfront about your expectations for the partnership. Describe your objectives and how you intend to attain them. Setting ground rules for things like meeting times and durations, communication methods, and confidentiality agreements can also be beneficial. Second, use technology to keep in touch. Whether you communicate with your mentee via email, chat apps, or video conferences, it's crucial to do so frequently. Last but not least, remember to schedule face-to-face time. While there are benefits to virtual mentoring, face-to-face interaction is still preferable.


The Difficulty Of Remote Mentoring


It's no secret that remote workers tend to be happier, more engaged, and more productive than their office-based counterparts. However, working remotely has its challenges, and one typical one is feeling alone or unsupported. Employees who work remotely as opposed to in an office are more likely to miss "essential social and collaborative opportunities that are integral to engagement and well-being," according to Gallup's "State of the American Workplace" study.

One instance of this kind of chance is mentoring. It's always preferable to mentor face-to-face in order to give the person you're mentoring the finest support possible. This makes it simpler to interpret social cues, detect nervousness in the other person, and determine how your words affect them. Read more about creating safe paces online here

Building rapport and fostering a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere are also made simpler by in-person mentoring. It may appear that your mentorship will be clinical and impersonal if you forgo "genuine" human interaction, but this need not be the case. The difficulties you might have with remote mentoring are actually quite comparable to those you might encounter with "regular" mentoring; only the method of communication makes them worse.


Three Ideas For Remote Mentoring


Just like mentoring employees you actually see, mentoring remote employees focuses on establishing relationships, speaking clearly, and checking in. The secret to successful remote coaching is to plan ahead and set up many channels of support. Only these three methods are provided.


1. Customize your mentoring program.


It's crucial to establish early on the appropriate amount of check-ins with your mentee. If you do it too much or just because you have to, they might think you don't really trust them; if you do it too little, they might feel abandoned and lost. According to Nancy Halpern, the principal of a workforce consulting company, mentoring relationships frequently fall short because they are unable to find the ideal balance between being extremely casual and being overly engineered. So make sure your mentee is open and honest with you about how frequently they would like to connect.

Decide how and when you'll make these meetings work after you know how frequently you'll communicate. Will you only conduct video conversations or will you also make phone calls, send instant messages, or even send emails? It's a good idea to have an agenda and a plan at the outset, especially so mentees know what they're going to get out of a contract, but stay flexible; you need to be ready to change the focus of a meeting if your mentee requests it.


2. Make staying aligned simple.


Being aware of the personal circumstances your mentee is dealing with will help you be a good mentor. You should be aware of it so you can proactively offer support if the other person frequently works longer hours, is dealing with an overwhelming workload, or struggles to balance work and childcare. In order to achieve this, look for tools that make it simple to remain visible and aligned.

Use automatic time trackers like Timely to get visibility over things like hours, workload, capacity, activity, and overtime. Remember that some people find it difficult to be upfront about their struggles, so being able to bring up this subject yourself may be incredibly useful and good for your relationship in the long run. Task managers keep individual pieces of work visible while calendar sharing helps you better understand your mentee's schedule, making it simpler to set up times that work for you both. These tools serve as helpful additions to in-person interaction, assisting in the identification of topics for discussion in your sessions.


3. Establish discussion areas


One of the most crucial things to keep in mind about mentoring is that it must be individualized in order to have an impact, whether you are meeting in person or remotely. Spend some time getting to know your mentee and understanding what they are hoping to get out of the mentoring relationship.

Spend some time getting to know your mentee personally at the beginning of each meeting. Ask them how they're doing if they have any concerns, how they're handling conflicting obligations and demands, and what they want to accomplish next. Ask your mentee for comments as well. Is there anything you haven't covered that they want to discuss, or is there a better tool or structure you two might try? 

You might invite your mentee to send you a mail after each session with their ideas and comments since this is frequently simpler in writing. This not only offers you more time to prepare for the next session, but it also gives your mentee more time to think through how to use her knowledge and insight.

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Writing has been my natural get-away and peace-place. Eventually, I have been drawn to the depths of the world of writing with numerous topics which have fascinated me through time like -
- Business and Finance
- Professional Communication and Skill Development

Through writing, I hope to find the bigger and better purpose of our lives beyond the work-life bitter banter and truly feel worth living in every breath.


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