The most valuable resources in an organisation are the employees. With a mentoring programme you can strategically develop your talent and ensure they contribute to the growth, innovation, and bottom line of the organisation.
With the new generation becoming the dominant force in the workplace, mentoring is more important than ever before. Employees – especially the younger generations – are less loyal to their organisations and when there is a shortage of talent this will impact retention. Presently, we see this especially with IT professionals. By investing in formal mentoring programmes, the investment will impact the capability, performance, and success of the organisation both short-term and long-term.
What is mentoring?
Traditional mentoring in an organizational context is a learning process where a mentee (the less experienced person) is matched with a mentor (the more experienced person) with the aim of creating a mutually beneficial learning collaboration which will bring learning outcomes for both mentees and mentors as well as influence organizational learning and development.
Mentoring provides the mentees with a safe place to learn, identify their talents and explore their career aspirations. Together with their mentor, they can focus on their long-term career, examine how and what to learn from their present job to be attractive for future opportunities, as well as identify different kinds of career paths across the organisation. They will learn how to become more visible, how to develop their network and to become more open to move across organizational boundaries in their daily work and in their career moves.
Mentors, on the other hand, will be exposed to the mentees’ view on the world, the organisation, leadership styles and their career opportunities. This will also provide the mentors with more insight into their own thinking about talent, and how to nurture talent in their part of the organisation. This will open the eyes of the mentors to more diverse talents and develop their approach to diversity and inclusion.
Formal mentoring programmes are a great addition to the organisation’s existing talent development initiatives and can provide a number of benefits that will also help create a strong learning culture within the organisation.
Why mentoring matters
From research and from our own practice we know that mentoring matters:
Mentoring can improve career outcomes for mentees
Mentored employees receive a greater number of promotions and higher compensations – as mentees become visible across the organisation through the mentoring, there is a higher likelihood that they will be offered promotions and seek promotions. This is also accelerated through the mentees’ becoming aware of opportunities across the organisation.
Mentored employees feel more satisfied with and committed to their career
Having the opportunity to discuss your job and career with a more senior person, provides the mentee with greater insight into what they are actually contributing to the success of the organisation and also with a feeling of appreciation as this more senior person gives them individual attention. We know from the Gallup employee engagement survey that “having a best friend at work” influences engagement and this “research have repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their jobs”[i].
Mentored employees feel more positive about their organisation as a place to work
Having a senior person as your mentor not only provides the mentee with attention but also with insight into the strategy of the company. As Daniel Pink describes in his book “Drive”, knowledge workers are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose. Mentoring provides a place to explore all three dimensions of your work and gives the mentee access to really understand and explore the higher purpose of why their company exists. This way the mentee can arrive at a better understanding of how their own job and efforts contributes to this higher purpose – and we are back to the old metaphor of whether the employees is “chipping at stones or building a cathedral”.
Mentored employees have reduced turnover intentions and reduced actual turnover
The accumulated effect of improved career outcomes, feeling more satisfied with and committed to their career and feeling more positive about their organization as a place to work is reduced turnover intentions and actual turnover among mentored employees. For organisations seeking to build their internal talents and ensure a pipeline ready to take on important positions as they become available, this is a major reason for starting many mentoring programmes.
Mentors also benefit from mentoring
Once a mentor, always a mentor! We see this very often in organizational mentoring programmes, the mentors become so engaged and committed that they keep coming back to continue mentoring once one programme ends and a new begins. Mentors feel great job satisfaction in helping others grow, in building their network not only among the mentors – their peers – but also among the younger generations across the organisation. This way the mentors are also gaining better understanding of their own organisation and become better equipped to perform in executive roles.
In summary, mentoring can provide benefits of strategic importance for the organisation. To achieve these results, you need a professional design tailormade to support your strategic agenda, a competent programme manager or programme management team to lead the mentoring programme, as well as skills facilitators/trainers to prepare your mentors and mentees for their mentoring collaboration.