Good mentors are essential to career growth. They help mentees or trainees overcome steep learning curves and navigate around the confusing aspects of their jobs. Mentors are so beneficial that top-performing companies incorporate strong mentorship programs to strengthen their workforce and improve productivity.
However, many trainees are completely unaware of or completely hide debilitating weaknesses. Your guidance and support as a mentor can only do so much when it isn’t tailored to a new employee’s specific improvement needs. To achieve great results, you must learn how to identify weaknesses to make training highly effective and deliver a stronger impact. That’s why we’ve compiled 13 tips for mentors to identifying trainees’ weaknesses.
Get Their General Aptitude Exam Results
Make sure your trainees take their general aptitude exam if they haven’t taken one yet. Aptitude tests are reliable tools in discovering and recognizing strengths and weakness, as well as identifying opportunities for growth and threats to their performance.
By getting your trainees’ aptitude exam results, you’ll have an intuitive sense of which areas you should focus your attention to help new employees improve.
Weigh Their Performance Against Company Standards
While it’s a natural part of the training process, actually weighing the trainees’ performance against company standards gives you a crystal-clear picture of what’s required of those you manage.
Tardiness, lack of drive, failing to work well with the team, and difficulty grasping training materials are some of the performance measures that you should consider aside from the actual skill-set you’re helping them build and hone. Ask yourself, “Which characteristics don’t sit well with our team?” and then identify the weaknesses from there.
Help Them Conduct a Self-assessment
Trainee self-assessment is a fountain of helpful insights when used correctly. Most people might think that self-assessments only result in a skewed perception of oneself, but when used with the right angle, it may actually reveal important information that may help you identify and address your trainees’ weaknesses.
For example, a trainee who highlights his or her communication skills despite apparently lacking in this particular department shows a glaring weakness: poor self-awareness. This kind of result indicates that self-assessment is a great tool at revealing your trainees’ weaknesses.
Set SMART Goals and Track Their Progress
Training goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound are necessary when it comes to identifying trainees’ weaknesses, especially when used with a systematic way to track their progress. Because a specific training goal is set to be achieved within a particular deadline through a designated action plan, it evens out the landscape and effectively reveals weaknesses.
By tracking trainee progress through performance comparisons, you will see who is lagging behind. You’ll also see the weakness behind their subpar performance, which you can now effectively address and help employees improve.
Listen to The Assessment of Their Peers
It won’t be much of a stretch to think that trainees might cover each others’ weaknesses. But, when you conduct individual peer assessments, it’s more likely you’ll receive candid reviews and opinions. Peer assessments can be helpful in your intention to identify weaknesses in your trainees.
Aside from weaknesses, peer assessment reveals the subtle social dynamics within the team that might help you leverage peer support in identifying employee weaknesses.
Let Them Keep a Professional Diary
Letting the trainees keep a professional diary is essential in honing their self-awareness, while providing you concrete information to evaluate and track progress.
Not only is a professional diary valuable for a mentor, it also allows them to review their performance, reflect on their mistakes, and reframe experiences in a way that boosts their self-esteem.
Monitor Their Performance in Real Time
Sometimes, there is no other way to properly identify your trainees’ weaknesses than to actually be in the trenches with the trainees themselves. This way you can see their performances firsthand, the way they interact with each other, and how they handle pressure.
Working alongside your employees and seeing them in action is the quickest way to identify employee weaknesses.
Keep The Professional Meetings Constant
Always keep the professional meetings constant; this helps keep your trainees accountable for themselves and each other. When professional meetings are few and far between, it gives an unreliable sense of ability and skill level, which may mask weaknesses.
Saying in the loop in a consistent manner means you can keep track of trainees’ progress. Regular meetings help you keep tabs on trainees’ struggles based on the input they provide week to week.
Ask Them to Identify Your Weakness
Asking your trainees to identify your weakness is a great way to identify theirs. This may be a daunting task for trainees, especially if they’re asked to evaluate their mentors. But, the inability to follow orders under pressure is a weakness in and of itself. Another benefit of this method is that it shows your trainees’ capacity for observation.
Asking your trainees about your weaknesses not only establishes a great rapport that will help you spot weaknesses better, the actual feedback helps you improve your efforts as a mentor.
Record Their Performance and Let Them Evaluate
Recording their performance with camcorders is a highly effective method that reveals your trainees’ weakness and improves their performance at the same time. Through recorded video and audio files, you can rewind and skip to parts where you trainees’ performances seemed a little bit off.
Follow through with a strong peer input by letting everybody review each other’s recorded performances and ask them to point out performance flaws as well as strengths that the team can learn from. The recording is not only effective at identifying weaknesses, it’s also transparent.
Ask Them To Present Their Ideas
The ability to effectively communicate an idea is a reliable measure of one’s understanding of the material. Using this line of thought, asking your trainees to present their ideas to their peers works well in two ways: it reveals how well they grasped the training materials, and how they respond to pressure. Failure in either gives you a clear grasp on their weaknesses and how you should help support their professional growth.
While group presentation is an efficient way of carrying out this method, it won’t be as effective as individual presentations that direct a lot of eyeballs on a single person attempting to present his or her ideas.
Use Gamification to Your Advantage
Gamification is a concept that attempts to turn operations and procedures into a game where winners will get a reward. It is a great way to boost employee morale and productivity, and it’s currently used by a number of companies with great results. To mentors, gamifying the training process releases undue stress and burdens from their trainees and replaces it with a competitive spirit.
The conditions set by gamification allow trainees to perform well. Any hints of weakness can be reliably identified and documented because these are weaknesses shown without any interference caused by stress and pressure.
Review Their Professional Social Profile
Reviewing professional social profiles like LinkedIn, Kalibrr, Jobstreet, and About.me is a great way to objectively identify a trainee’s strength and weakness based on the professional information they’ve provided to the public and how they delivered the information as well.
These professional social sites will clue you in on what their weaknesses could probably be based on, including the skills they didn’t include, mismatched chronology, and detail-oriented mistakes like spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
There’s no denying that mentors are essential to career growth, that’s why it’s one of the most important roles any professional can take on. By learning more about tips and strategies on how to identify trainees’ weaknesses, you’re helping create a significant positive difference in your trainees’ lives that could strongly impact their career, and propel their abilities and self-confidence to new heights.
written by Philip Masterson