What I learned from each workplace is the unequivocal necessity of finding a mentor as fast as possible. If building accountable relationships in the workplace is integral to your success on the job, then why not get started right away?
But it can be quite intimidating asking for someone’s extra time. And as a new person on the team, how do you know which person to ask which questions?
In my past employee onboarding programs at previous organizations — big and small — my managers were the ones who welcomed me. They’d always make it a point that their [office] door is always open, and that no matter what I needed, I could barge right in and ask whatever it is.
Despite their kindness and willingness to assist and make me feel comfortable, I found it difficult to approach them on matters that were less important, especially knowing their busy schedules.
The mentor should be someone that’s not your manager or your boss. It's a fellow coworker or a peer that knows what it feels like to be new on the team. They’re someone you can trust to ask all of the little questions you were too shy to ask in the team meeting. Like: What was that report everyone kept talking about? Is this something I should read ASAP?
They're a veteran on the team that has cultivated a strong work ethic and reputation in the field. Not only that, but they particularly understand the ins and outs of office politics, history, workflow, and expectations.
The mentor also serves as your office confidant and friend. Yes, they are first and foremost your coworker, but they’re also someone who can show you the ropes at the lunch tables, so to speak. They’ll be there when you want to know where the best sandwich place near the office is. Or which people in the office attend weekly happy hours.
This unique relationship creates a reverse mentorship model, where both the mentor and mentee gain novel tools and knowledge from each other’s experiences. A 2013 study on mentorship published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that:
In simple terms, it’s a win-win for the employees and the business.
In my own experience, I wish my previous employers had assigned a specific mentor to me on the very first day of work and through the tough first month of transitioning into a new office culture. I found that many of my former coworkers were accustomed to a personal routine that I was scared to interrupt. It’s not that they didn’t want to bother with the new person or welcome them on board, but they just didn’t have the time or mentorship program allotted by their managers.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a great first impression on new recruits. They’ll pass on their knowledge and experience to future hires, which as a result, will benefit the health and culture of your entire organization.