The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work
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Peer Mentorship

Onboard effectively with volunteer mentors.

All it takes is confidence that employees are responsible adults, not ignorant newcomers who know next to nothing about what their jobs require. This system would also reveal an individual’s real interests, which in turn could make business far more efficient.– Ricardo Semler

In a Nutshell

Being a new employee is like being a new college student. Like in college, a new employee not only has the actual work to tackle but also has to learn about a new work environment; the people who are going to affect their work life; the rules of engagement and the company culture. These are things which are experienced and cannot be addressed with just a simple briefing by the HR.

This is why companies invest in mentorship programs – the idea being that a seasoned employee would help the new recruit navigate the company as well as be a sounding board for them.

Typically, companies develop mentorship programs where senior employees are assigned to help a batch of new employees. Upon closer examination, this model turns out to be quite ineffective: The senior employee is usually bogged down with work and is also not given a choice about their participation in the mentorship program. So, they neither have adequate time to devote to the new recruits under their wing nor reject the role of a mentor.

What ends up happening in many companies, is that the mentor sends out an introductory email saying, “Hey guys, if you have a problem, let me know.” And more often than not there is no follow-up by either side and the mentor-mentee “relationship” dies a natural death. This also makes it difficult for the company to evaluate the program and find out if there’s any real value to it.

Now, what if companies took a page out of college mentorship programs? Instead of assigning a senior employee to a batch of new recruits, why not make the mentorship program voluntary? In addition, mentors who participate should be employees who have joined the company just a few months or a year earlier. By making these small tweaks, the company can ensure that mentors are invested in the process and they are more likely to create real value for the new hires.


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