Keeper Solutions Leadership Series – The Importance of Mentorship

Practicing positive leadership is an incredibly important part of the Keeper Solutions’ formula. Keeper Solutions has teams spread out in delivery centers across Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Poland, and Costa Rica. Our team of over eighty developers supports a number of fast-paced, scaling business in Europe and North America. 

With a global team, the importance of good leadership and expert management is amplified hugely. It’s important to us that we create a dynamic ecosystem that encourages continuous learning, collaboration and growth. We support our people, making sure they stay at the top of their game and are constantly developing their skills. 

At Keeper Solutions, we are very fortunate to work with some incredibly experienced leaders and HR professionals. One such person is Mihaela Smadilo, Keeper’s Head of Service Delivery and Talent. Mihaela has over 20 years’ HR experience across a broad range of industries and is passionate about leadership, culture and diversity. We always love to pick Mihaela’s brain on topics related to leadership, management and how to provide individuals with the tools they need to excel.

Using Mentorship to Fill Knowledge Gaps

In a previous blog post, we sat down with Mihaela to discuss the value of positive leadership. During that conversation Mihaela shared the four areas of courage, the attributes of a good leader and the importance of encouraging leadership at all levels of seniority. If you haven’t read that article already, we encourage you to do so here. This time around, we got a chance to discuss the power of mentorship and the benefits it brings to both sides of the relationship.

The purpose of mentoring, as Mihaela describes it, is simply to connect an individual who has a lot of knowledge and experience with someone who at a less advanced stage of their career. Often it can take a person years to build up their skills and expertise. Throughout their professional career they are exposed to different ways of doing things and get to learn from dozens of people around them. Through trial and error they learn the most efficient and effective ways of doing things, and even more importantly, how not to do things.

By becoming a mentor, a person is simply accelerating the learning process for another person. Mihaela stressed how important the role of mentorship is in helping a person to achieve their full potential. By engaging with a mentor, you get to ask questions, undertake hands-on training and learn from another person’s mistakes. 

A Two-Way Development Process

Mentorship is not just beneficial to the student. For the mentor it is a brilliant way of bolstering leadership capabilities. Through mentoring others, a person can develop essential leadership skills such as listening, communicating, problem-solving, teaching and breaking down complex concepts into easily understandable chunks. The relationship also allows both sides to gain a more diverse perspective. A mentor can start seeing something through the eyes of a student and vice versa. 

Mentoring is not about telling people what to do. Rather it’s about showing the different options available. Often the best way of explaining something is through storytelling. A person might not remember specific steps to do something when laid out mechanically. But they will remember about the time that something went horribly wrong and you learned a lifelong lesson. Again, this is a powerful way for mentors to develop their own communication skills. 

Mentorship goes hand-in-hand with a transformational leadership style. This style of leadership aims to inspire teammates through effective communication and creating a stimulating and collaborative environment. 

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Having An In-House Mentorship Program

Mihaela highlighted how companies who establish in-house, peer-to-peer mentorship programs are often much more adept at getting the most out of new hires. An effective mentorship program allows new personnel to expand their network, become more familiar with the company and get up to speed on company processes much quicker. It’s also a continuous cycle as the student eventually becomes the teacher. In this way a person first gets to expand their knowledge base as a student and then gets to improve their leadership skills as a mentor.   

For many new hires, it can take months to get to become familiar with their co-workers. Through a mentoring program, a new hire can gain access to important career contacts much more fluidly. This is especially true in remote work environments where new hires can often feel isolated. Companies with mentoring programs benefit from a strong and connected culture with an engaged workforce. 

Overall, mentorship is an incredible tool for companies that are interested in building a connected and engaged working environment. Mentorship plays a huge role in developing skills, confidence and knowledge. It also allows teams to connect with one another on a much deeper level and build lasting relationships. In today’s increasingly isolated world, this is a powerful benefit that can often be underestimated.  

A huge thank you to Mihaela for taking part in this series. Lots more to come!

Want to learn more from our team. Check out some of our employee spotlights:

Can You C# The Future? An Interview with Kristijan Kralj

Employee Spotlight: Q&A with Keeper Solutions CTO, Nick Holme

Employee Spotlight: Q&A with Giovanni Bonessa From our Costa Rica Centre