Four Impactful Ways to Mentor a New Hire

The Importance of Mentoring in the Workplace

Think back to a time when you took a stab at something brand new or stepped into unfamiliar territory for the first time. How were you able to establish a foundation and feel comfortable in your new surroundings?

New hires in the workplace face the challenge of acclimating to a new role, new responsibilities, a new team, and a new culture. It’s intimidating to step into an environment where it seems everyone knows what they’re doing, except for you. Mentors provide a support base to build your professional skills and your confidence. They can channel their previous experience and failures to provide sound advice and guidance in your first weeks on the job.

Four Impactful Ways to Mentor a New Hire

At Seer, I experienced the new hire onboarding process twice: as an intern and again transitioning to a full-time SEO role. Along the way, I was fortunate for countless mentors who offered their guidance and support navigating through the uncharted waters of agency life.  Each contributed a unique perspective, but the following four practices were most impactful to my growth as a new employee at Seer:

1. Identify Their Strengths and Weaknesses

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to new employees. Everybody brings a unique skill set and level of experience to the table. This is very much the case in an agency setting like Seer where people come from all walks of life.

Whether you're assigned to be a new hire's mentor or form an organic relationship, it's important to identify their strengths and weaknesses. In the earliest stage of the mentorship, this is an opportunity to learn about your new co-worker's personality and past experience. Find out where they have the most experience, areas they need to work on, and where they want to focus their time. The conversation can benefit both parties by spotting:

  • Opportunities where they can use existing strengths to contribute, forming an immediate sense of accomplishment and belonging.
  • Areas of weakness that you consider a strength. You can invite them to shadow projects they are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with. There, they can ask questions and observe your strengths at work.
  • Past experiences they encountered where you could gain a new perspective.

pasted image 0 29How this made an impact on my growth at Seer

As an intern with no agency experience, I felt I lacked the qualities to make any significant contribution.  From my first day, the mentors on my team helped decipher how my previous experiences could translate into meaningful contributions.

After identifying that content was a strong suit, my team's two SEO mentors encouraged me to own several content outlines and audits for our clients. They made sure to loop me in on any projects I was less familiar with to shadow and ask questions.

Seer has a mentoring program that pairs all new hires with a buddy. On my first day of full-time life, my buddy set time to learn about my internship experience. We discussed the areas that I was able to work on most and where I could use opportunities to shadow during the onboarding process. Equipped with this information, she looped (and continues to loop) me in on different opportunities across the division.

Another one of my SEO mentors was aware that I enjoyed working on content creation and actively reached out for my help on a pair of content outlines. After review, he informed me that my work changed his perspective on how to approach content outlines.

2. Challenge Them to Step Out of Their Comfort Zone

A foreign office and new process, alone, can provide plenty of discomfort for new employees. While finding projects that leverage their strengths will build a level of comfort, it's crucial to challenge them to step outside of that zone.

Many times, the best way for a new hire to learn is getting tossed into the fire.  New employees can only get so far with training and shadowing sessions. Of course, you shouldn't throw them in without adequate support. Provide the necessary resources to dive in and let them know they can check in with you at any point. Set aside time to reconvene and review their work. This is a chance to:

  • Emphasize that they may be underselling themselves and point out new strengths they were previously unaware of.  Soft skills, such as problem-solving and critical-thinking, are often overlooked by new hires focused on hard skills listed in the job description.
  • Provide constructive critical feedback on areas they can improve.
  • Walkthrough your process and how you would have attacked the task.

pasted image 0 29How this made an impact on my growth at Seer

From an SEO perspective, I came to Seer with no experience in reporting and analysis. I was staffed as an intern on a team of highly-skilled, experienced managers and associates. When my SEO associate mentor suggested that I take a stab at the analysis for our monthly reporting, I was hesitant.

Instead of settling for shadowing, he challenged me to give it a shot.  With a solid base of resources and examples to work with, I dove into Google Data Studio. There were moments where I thought my analysis was completely erroneous. The two of us met to review the dashboard and, to my surprise, I received positive feedback.

Monthly reporting was one thing, but cross-divisional analyses were a whole different monster that I hadn't faced in previous experience. On the PPC side of the team, my mentors encouraged me to conquer the beast through firsthand experience: sorting through PPC and SEO data for a Keyword Analysis.

Staring down a complex dashboard of data, I wasn't certain where to start. Thankfully, my team provided tips and guidance on how to approach the file and the analysis. A great deal of my time was spent in that dashboard, blankly staring at a plethora of data and uncertain if I would ever escape. Thankfully, their encouragement to step outside of my comfort zone pays dividends every day that I work in Power BI in my full-time role.

3. Be Transparent About Your Experiences

Imposter syndrome is real and can affect new hires more than anyone else. Mentors are vital toward building the confidence of their new co-workers fighting several layers of intimidation. As a mentor, you have a certain level of experience and comfort that didn't exist on your first day.

Sharing your past failures and current struggles goes a long way.  At Seer, we have a core set of values: ETHIC. Two of those important values are at play when you let new hires know that you were once in the same shoes:

  • Transparency: You're open and honest that everyone started at a point where they weren't completely confident in their abilities, including you.
  • Humility: You check your ego at the door and don't feel the need to prove yourself to the new hire. Instead, you share your vulnerability to help your co-worker feel confident in their ability to grow.

pasted image 0 29How this made an impact on my growth at Seer

As I mentioned before, I was staffed on a client team comprised of brilliant, highly-skilled digital marketing professionals as an intern. To say I was intimidated would be an understatement. As the internship progressed and I was faced with the question 'Do you feel prepared for an associate role?', I doubted myself. I felt nowhere near the level of the associates on my team.

When I expressed those doubts to my mentors, they gave identical responses. They were all in my shoes before, just starting out and equally as intimidated. It's easy to get caught up in the fast-paced environment at Seer, but working alongside so many talented, driven individuals is infectious. They assured that, with time, I would feel more comfortable and confident in my abilities.

In my transition to full-time employment, I leaned heavily on mentors who were in my exact shoes: former interns who joined Seer full-time. Anytime that I feel like I'm behind or that I haven't reached the level I need to be at, they talk through moments when they felt the same way. Their humility helps ease my worries and strengthen my confidence in my abilities.

4. Invest in Their Success

The most important aspect of mentoring a new hire is that you genuinely care about their success. It's rather evident when a mentor is assigned a new hire involuntarily. Moreso, embracing the role of mentor benefits everyone:

  • The new hire has a level of support that allows them to maximize growth from day one.
  • You gain experience in a leadership role and form a meaningful relationship that lasts beyond the onboarding period.
  • The company gains a confident new employee ready to make an impact and absorbed in the culture.

Go above and beyond to make sure they get their hands on as many different projects as possible. Open the floor for as many questions as possible and share your wealth of knowledge. More importantly, check in with them on a personal level along the way.

pasted image 0 29How this made an impact on my growth at Seer

Remember that time I was struggling in my first go at Power BI? I was slumped over at my desk, palming my face in sheer confusion as the clock ticked toward 6:00 pm EST and beyond. As I sat, lost in a sea of data, my team lead stopped at my desk. Clearly, he noticed my frazzled appearance and wanted to check-in.

Struggling to explain where I was having trouble, he sat down and began working through my thought process. Half an hour later, the dashboard actually made sense! He wasn't obligated to stay after hours to offer guidance to a lost intern, but he genuinely cared about my success.

Moving into my full-time roles, my knowledge of technical SEO was shaky and limited. After two full training sessions, my TSEO mentor (and wizard) offered an additional 1:1 session to work through an analysis. Slowly, my technical chops began to form.

He set aside time for several more 1:1s, challenged me to complete my own analysis and hopped into a video conference any time I was struggling. None of the extra time was required, but he enjoyed my curiosity and wanted to help me improve as an SEO.

Beyond a Mentorship

My second onboarding process came to a close, but the impact of my mentors is channeled on a daily basis. Every time I find myself struggling to power through a dashboard or question my recommendations, their sound advice and reassurance echos inside my head. Whenever I feel discouraged or uncertain, I lean on the support of countless mentors who I maintain a strong relationship with. If you want to learn more about cultivating a strong company culture and other digital marketing insights from the Seer blog, sign up for our newsletter below!

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