How Mentoring Can Make A Positive Difference In A Logistics Business

There are currently over 2.2 million employees across all areas of the transport and logistics industry, from drivers and fleet managers to office staff and planning. However, within an industry with high employee turnover and a shortage of incoming talent, employee engagement and development is more vital than ever to strengthening and progressing a business.

27th October marks National Mentoring Day in the UK. It was created to celebrate and raise awareness of the significant benefits of mentoring, plus encourage more people to get involved in mentoring.

While mentoring is becoming more and more recognised for its ability to help mentees perform better and increase in confidence and morale, it is still highly under-utilised across the vast majority of businesses.

However, statistics provided by National Mentoring Day show the positive perception of mentoring from both individuals and businesses that have been involved in the practice:

  • 97% of mentees say mentors are valuable
  • 55% of mentees believe mentoring can help them succeed
  • 67% of businesses reported an increase in productivity due to mentoring
  • 55% of businesses reported a positive impact on their profits because of mentoring

So what is mentoring, and how can you make it a success for your business and employees, both as mentors and mentees? Here’s some things to consider if you are considering becoming a mentor, or finding a mentor to assist with your professional development:

What is the difference between a mentor and a coach?

Mentoring differs slightly from coaching in that it is more focussed on personal development than tasks. Mentoring aims to build long-term relationships that develop the mentee for their future as a whole, whereas coaching is usually much shorter-term and performance driven. A mentor’s role is more holistic in assessing strengths and weaknesses and exploring potential barriers and helping equip the mentee with new ways of overcoming challenges and problems.

How to choose a mentor or mentee that is right for me?

Mentoring should hopefully become a long term relationship that is beneficial for both parties, so choosing well-suited partners is really important. Employees should never be forced to mentor as it simply won’t work, so encourage employees to get involved and help develop the up and coming team members by promoting the personal benefits such as leadership and organisational skills as well as the idea of ‘giving back’.

A mentor is there to guide that individual in their own goals, so needs to be able to be subjective and provide clear and effective feedback, even if that could mean making it clear that the opportunities the mentee needs are not available within the current organisation. Having a mentor too far removed from the mentee’s current role can also be counter-productive. It’s best to choose a mentor who has fairly recently walked a similar career path to you, so they can give you current and beneficial advice.

How should I structure this relationship?

Although these relationships should hopefully be mutually beneficial, the mentee should be the driving force in the relationship as it’s their goals and development that is the objective of the process. Mentoring requires work and dedication from both parties and the mentee must be prepared to be challenged and questioned in order to make the most progress, while also knowing that they have a voice and should feel they can openly communicate their thoughts and feelings to their mentor. They must be the goal-setter, with the mentor providing guidance and encouragement to help them move forward and develop solutions to career issues.

How often should I meet my mentor/mentee?

Times get busy, particularly in the logistics industry where time is of the essence and things can change at the drop of a hat, but don’t be tempted to set mentoring aside as this can be counterproductive. When beginning the relationship regular meeting intervals should be agreed upon that are appropriate with the actions being set, it maybe weekly, monthly or even quarterly. Both parties should commit to these meetings and it is important to get your line managers support on this too so that you don’t deviate from your very important development plan.

Helpful, resources are also available to offer the sessions guidance, such as career development templates and goal assessment diaries. These can offer the mentee a space to write down thoughts and experiences in between meetings, to discuss at a later date.

Mentoring can have a real positive impact on your individual employees, and the business as a whole and can play an important role in continuing talent development throughout the industry. If you’d like to find out more about National Mentoring Day and download an information pack on how to get involved, click here.