Creating a Company Mentoring Program

by Barton Goldsmith, CEO Goldsmith Consulting, Copyright Barton Goldsmith

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Could you use some great tactics to help motivate and grow your team? Understanding a tactical approach is your first step. Unlike strategic plans, tactics are processes you can immediately put to use. The key is not just implementing these ideas, but doing it in such a way as to achieve positive results in the short term. Here are some tactics used by great Mentors in some very successful companies.

The Truth About Motivation

Motivation is a word that has been kicked around in business for well over fifty years. The trouble is that we keep coming up with superficial "incentives" that can make team members feel insulted or cheapened. Nothing that you can give a person (short of a yacht) will motivate them as much as recognition and support from their supervisors and peers.

Tactics like "Employee of the Month" donít work because you only create one winner -- and dozens of losers. Making sure that everyone shares in "the win" creates a team out of a staff. That is the definition of Esprit de Corps.

As companies grow, the team members can suffer, because attention can be diverted from individual efforts. A good Mentor/Manager believes in publicly recognizing the contributions of their entire team by celebrating large and small successes, and making the effort to mentor team members into positions that require them to become leaders.

If the team members know their Mentors and managers support them, they have the gumption to take risks, to try new ideas and experiment. These are the behaviors that help companies grow. Support and recognition are the most powerful motivation tools a Mentor can use. Encourage your people to step up to the plate, recognize them for making the effort and reward them substantially when they hit a home run.

Pay for Performance

Merit raises, giving a salary increase because someone has been with the company for a period of time, are not an effective tactic. Unfortunately most people wonít do any more than they have to, unless you give them a reason. Rewarding performance, large and small, is highly effective and results in a better bottom line for the company and the team member. This tactic has been used by sales teams for decades and is now finding itís way into mainstream business.

The 'pay for performance' practice leads to stronger teams because individuals realize that they depend on their teammates to create business. A natural Mentoring process takes place when a sales closer works closely with a lead generator to insure proper prospecting. Some closers 'spiff' (small cash or equivalent rewards) their lead generators for great prospecting. Likewise a sales manager will 'spiff' those who close a certain amount of sales.

These are small examples of performance rewards, but there is a bigger picture.

Everyone wants to be part of something larger than they are, like a growing company. Tactics such as an ESOP or Phantom Stock/Equity have proven to be highly effective motivation tools. In addition, mentoring your team to reach big, fat, hairy goals by significantly rewarding them creates profound results.


People know how well they are doing, and what they are not doing well. Most of the time Mentors are more concerned with telling their charges how to do better rather than asking them what they think they are doing right. In an honest relationship, both parties should be able to express their feelings about their progress. If the team member truly wants to grow, they will be able to have objectivity about their performance.

There are several 'Self-Evaluation' questions that can help create a positive dialogue and make the self-evaluation process more effective than a typical performance review. These questions will be great fuel for helping you both understand how progress is being made and what course corrections are necessary. It also opens the door for some serious career mentoring. Most importantly, it will help you both discover the skills that need to be developed in order to achieve your mutual goals.

Click here for a free copy of the Self-Evaluation questions, along with some suggestions for implementing the process will be forwarded to you.

Donít Take Away Their Problems

When things get busy and hectic, as they often do, and a team member comes to you with a problem that you can clearly see the answer to; it is tempting to solve it for them. This is not Mentoring. By solving their problems you take away their opportunity to become educated, and their ability to solve problems for themselves. People learn best when they face new challenges, in addition, they gain the skills to solve other, more difficult, problems.

Using the Tactics

Understanding and utilizing this tactic, and those mentioned above, will help you Mentor your team members to become more effective and to become leaders and Mentors themselves. These are the tactics that will make your Mentoring process an exciting part of your company culture. In addition, your team members will be inspired to reach new levels of performance; this is the essence of Mentoring.

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., has started, grown and sold 3 companies. He is a highly sought after speaker and business consultant, and presents to numerous companies, associations and leaders worldwide. He works regularly with The Young Presidentís Organization (YPO), The Executive Committee (TEC) and The Council of Growing Companies. Dr. Goldsmith writes for the Los Angeles Business Journal, and is a contributing author to numerous books and trade journals. He can be contacted through his web site at: or at (866) 5-BARTON. (c) 2003 Barton Goldsmith