The simplest model provides the mentee with a living wage. It should not be based on productivity to start, but should be enough that they can support themselves. In most cases, the cost of this wage is shared by the business and the mentor. In a shop that still pays via flat rate, the mentor should flag all the work produced by the mentee. Next, the mentor/mentee team needs enough space to be productive. You can’t expect to see an increase in productivity from the increase in overhead if you don’t give them the space to learn, produce and advance. If you pay your team a salary with a production incentive, then you might adjust the incentive or salary for the mentor. A successful mentorship program should not cost you anything in the way of lost production, and if implemented properly, will increase efficiencies and production over time.
The duration of a mentorship program depends on the maturity of your program. If you are just starting out and are growing a recent graduate of a two-year post-secondary program, then two years is recommended. Merit increases for the mentee must be defined and communicated, and production incentives for both must be planned and communicated as well. Most importantly, you must have a plan that is created as a team and communicated consistently from the very beginning. As your program grows and matures, you’ll find that the concept of creating mentors for life will allow you to build mentorship into your business model where there aren’t any special pay plans or incentives. It simply becomes your business model that supports the continued growth of the company.
How do you become a great mentor? In my opinion, you must first be a great mentee; the best mentor is going to be the best apprentice. A mentor also needs a mentor. In fact, the way we solve the technician shortage in our industry is to create mentors for life. To be a mentor, you must commit to becoming an apprentice for life. It is this cycle of constant learning and sharing that allows us to all stay abreast of the rapid technology growth in this industry. But how do you get started?
I suggest looking at the recent program created by partners ASE and S/P2 to develop and support mentorship in our industry. S/P2 is an organization that provides safety and pollution prevention training for our industry, as well as vocational education that meets OSHA requirements. They have more than 2,300 schools in their program and thousands of aftermarket shops as well. Recently, they took on the task of creating an online course that supports a mentorship program. It includes modules for the manager who must be the driver of the program, the mentor who is responsible for the growth of the apprentice, the mentee who needs to understand what is expected of them and a module focused on the resources needed by all to support the implementation of the program in your business. It also demonstrates the need to work with the local vocational institutions. The program will soon offer an app that the mentor can use to interact with the learning objective of the mentee quickly and easily via their phone. ASE supports this effort, and you can find more information on www.sp2.org.
Hopefully this information helps and encourages you to begin a mentorship program of your own or helps to better define your current program. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with comments about how you have successfully implemented a mentorship program in your business. While we are focused on growing our own businesses, we also must share our successes with our peers so we may all survive.