Virtual literally became a reality with the changes demanded of us through the Coronavirus pandemic. Businesses quickly adapted to significantly reduced personal interaction levels and moved to video calls, meetings, and training by phone or video call. For some, the benefits have been enormous and they see very little reason to return to old ways, so does this work for virtual mentoring?
Mentoring should support teams and individuals, which is even more critical when working remotely. The feeling of community is easily lost and individuals can suffer stress and feel isolated without it being noticed when they aren’t turning up to an office every day. The virtual world is one way to overcome this and mentoring can undoubtedly be as effective.
Virtual Mentoring Has Many Benefits Even Post-Pandemic
- Location– remote mentoring immediately removes the location barrier. Virtual mentoring opens up the opportunity for relationships that would never happen in an office.
- Time Efficiencies– No travel time and sessions can happen from anywhere, be scheduled more efficiently and cost less.
- Less Social Pressure– Meeting with a mentor face-to-face can cause anxiety and nerves, especially for those with low self-esteem, which can inhibit some natural reactions and become a barrier to progress. Virtual mentoring can be a highly successful way of removing this stress to become a more comfortable and productive process. You can begin with phone calls and move to video calls at a pace that your mentee is comfortable with.
- Multiple Mentors– Individuals can have multiple mentors through the new flexibility that virtual mentoring offers.
- Quick To Put Into Action– Mentoring programs within offices tend to become large programs that take planning and big meetings. Virtual mentoring allows this to be scaled down and is much quicker to get up and running as a result.
Overcoming The Challenges of Virtual Mentoring
- Forming A Connection–Wherever possible, encourage participants to use video calls, even if they start without the camera. It gives the option to switch on the camera as you form a connection without changing the basic meeting structure. Make time for the social side and use icebreaker games to get to know each other and become comfortable. Understanding how to mentor an anxious employee can teach skills valuable to all virtual mentoring encounters.
- Reducing the feeling of isolation – Mentoring programs have a sense of community that needs to develop even more strongly in virtual mentoring, whether to an individual or a group. Schedule a webinar for those involved before the program’s official start, encouraging participants to feel part of something. Have similar milestone meetings throughout the program to celebrate achievements and progress.
- Technical Difficulties– You are bound to encounter some technical difficulties, so have a backup plan that everyone understands. Disruption can derail the flow and become frustrating. Check connections are stable before you start and resort to a phone call to get back on track if you can’t fix the issue speedily.
Mentoring may never become entirely remote and there is, we hope, no reason for that to be the case. Still, it is undoubtedly a productive and valuable addition to mentoring services that we see staying around.