January 11, 2017

5 Steps to Mentor Employees Using Outside Experts

 |  By: Mike Opperman

The dairy industry is rich with expertise in a variety of areas. Companies offer technical service specialists in anything from nutrition to reproduction to parlor efficiency. Veterinarians are great resources for animal health advice. Extension agents and others not affiliated with a corporate entity offer valuable guidance as well.

In addition to providing support in specific management areas, these outside experts can also be valuable mentors to your employees. “Experts are often looking for ways to help junior people in their profession, and younger employees are hungry for training and development,” says Jon Younger, a talent management and human resources expert. He offers five steps that leaders can take to utilize outside experts to mentor employees.

  1. Establish Informal Coaching Relationships. Especially with dairy operations, outside experts are usually brought in to solve a problem. When this is the case, Younger says it can be difficult to arrange for formal coaching relationships. He suggests that when outside experts visit include time for them to work with employees.
  2. Provide channels for sharing knowledge. Experts should be asked to share their expertise and educate teams on best practice insights and new innovations in their field of expertise. Younger suggests a brown bag lunch with the team to help build the team’s relationship with these experts and reinforce collaboration and engagement.
  3. Involve experts as part of the brain trust. Bringing a team together to solve tough problems or plan for future initiatives builds teamwork and improves performance. Including outside experts can help team members see new or alternative approaches. Younger says it is also likely to lead to closer relationships and greater engagement between outside experts and internal staff.
  4. Engage experts in providing developmental feedback. Feedback from outside experts can be valuable in identifying areas for growth opportunities. Sometimes feedback can be challenging, but clear, constructive comments can lead to greater performance.
  5. Connect with experts’ networks. Outside experts are often connected to different networks than internal team members. Younger says to encourage managers and team members to seek advice of outside experts and identify networking opportunities.  

“Mentoring is one of the important tools that managers have to contribute to the development of their team,” Younger says. Utilizing [their] talents as mentors and coaches is a way to multiply the value of an organization’s investment in outside experts.”