Why every small business owner needs to be a mentor

Written by Callum Sharp

Six hours per week is the optimal time a boss should spend with each employee, according to research by Leadership IQ. They estimate that employees become 29 percent more inspired, 30 percent more engaged, 16 percent more innovative and 15 percent more intrinsically motivated than employees who only spend one hour a week interacting with their leader.

The reality is, these statistics are meaningless. Optimal face time with employees should be judged on a case-by-case basis. Small business owners, however, do need to regularly mentor their employees. Here’s why:

Professional development is your concern

Small businesses often outsource their HR. Time-off, purchase orders and invoicing can all be outsourced to an external company. What is difficult to outsource, however, is employee development.

The people you hire early on will likely run your business one day. In fact, the American Society for Training and Development found that 75 percent of executives credited their mentors with helping them reach their current positions.

If you’re ambitious and driven then your business won’t be small forever. You’ll have team leaders, managers and account directors. So it’s important to nurture these skills in your employees early on. Teach them the tricks of the trade.

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Fuse personal and professional development

Mentoring doesn’t just have to be about professional development. The average person spends roughly 90,000 hours at the workplace in their lifetime. But it’s your job to develop their personal selves, too.

At Turbine, for example, we have a Chief Happiness Officer. It’s up to Liz to look after everyone’s wellbeing, both in the workplace and in our personal lives. The result is happier, more energetic and valued staff, which results in stronger work.

Hone in on talent

Perhaps your end-goal is to have your business die with you. Perhaps it’s to sell it to someone who can steer the boat in the same direction. By personally mentoring your staff, you can discover hidden talents and use these to the business’s advantage (non-maliciously, of course!)

Understanding your employees is one thing, but guiding them on a journey of self-development and showing them hidden doors in their potential and growth is essential for overall business success.

Promote loyalty

Much like the President, Prime Minister or leader of any country (or company for than matter), people need someone to look to when it’s foggy outside and they’re struggling to find the path.

As your business grows, it’s important that your employees are with you on the journey through the various changes you’ll go through. The last thing you need is to be recruiting fresh talent during a time of high demand and (hopefully) exponential growth. Not only will that put pressure on other employees, it’ll demoralise your entire team.

For greater results, give up the secret sauce

Retaining control of a business is no easy feat, especially if you’re hiring self-motivated, entrepreneurial employees which, let’s face it, you ought to be doing.

By becoming a mentor, you let your staff in on the inner workings of the company. You face client losses together, just like you face client wins together. By personally investing time with each of your employees and revealing that you have weaknesses too, you build emotional investment. You build a business that isn’t just as big as ‘you’, but as big as your entire team.

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Employees , Entrepreneurship , Leadership , Lessons , People management