How to Mentor in a Remote Workplace

Ellen A. Ensher, W. Brad Johnson, and David G. Smith

Remote work is here to stay. And with this shift comes the need for managers and leaders to master virtual mentorship. Many individuals incorrectly presume that physical proximity is essential in developmental relationships. But like work itself, mentoring is defined less by the medium in which it is accomplished than by the outcomes delivered. Commitment, trust, relationship quality, and mentor competence are the real ingredients of developmental growth, all of which can be applied to virtual mentorship.

To master virtual mentoring and build effective developmental relationships, managers and leaders need to sharpen five skills. First, build trust by making the relationship a safe space for both parties and delivering on any promises you make. Second, clarify the rules of engagement, including deciding on the frequency of communication and preferred mediums. Third, be intentional when forming the relationship by asking questions and discovering shared values. Fourth, balance authenticity with boundaries. Finally, when possible, collaborate.