“Before I went back to college football, other coaches told me that recruiting was a burden. However, for me recruiting was just another way to compete. “
– Pete Carroll, Head Coach, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl Champions
What is a Mentoring program?
A mentoring program provides a systematic way to match employees with more experienced colleagues, for developmental purposes. Mentoring programs vary across companies, but most involve key elements, such as:
- Mentors have previously held the same or similar position as the mentee.
- Mentor-mentee relationships are trust-based.
- Mentors provide guidance and advice to mentees.
- Mentors provide access to information, resources, and networks to mentees.
- Mentors often coach mentees in key performance areas.
Mentoring programs may be formal, including set meeting schedules and feedback sessions regarding predetermined topics. Mentors may observe mentees on the job and provide feedback, and they may set development goals and activities to leverage the mentee’s strengths and improve weaknesses.
Why is it important in Business?
Mentoring provides an economical and effective way to develop employees, while engaging experienced personnel. They give mentees the support and help that they need to meet organizational expectations and to achieve personal career goals. Mentoring programs allow employees to benefit from positive relationships with coworkers — a key predictor of employee satisfaction.
And it’s not just about the mentees- mentoring benefits mentors as well. By asking an employee to be a mentor, you are recognizing them as a leader and an example of they type of behaviour that other employees should model. Mentors benefit from the rich experience of developing others and building leadership skills throughout the process.
What effect does it have on culture?
Mentoring programs facilitate internal branding. Your mentors ideally should be positive role models: experienced, high performers who will demonstrate your company’s values in action. When looking for ideal candidates to serve as mentors, consider who espouses core company values and walks the walk.
Talking about company values and mission performance at quarterly meetings is great, but having mentors in place who demonstrate these values on a daily basis shows new or transitioning employees that these are more than just words on a plaque. These values become alive within a thriving organizational culture, strengthened by mentoring partnerships. Mentoring programs contribute to a positive work culture that supports professional development and collegial relationships, which reduces turnover.
How does it impact performance?
Mentoring programs facilitate performance and productivity through their developmental effects. A formal mentoring program may be essential for developing new and rising leaders. Companies often have few options for developing leaders, as there are few positions at these levels, making traditional training programs less affordable and less effective.
Many companies that have invested in strong mentoring programs are now using these programs to recruit new employees from outside of the organization (e.g., McGraw Hill). Internal employment also increases as employees see that the company will support their career development. Mentoring programs help to reduce turnover and foster upward mobility within the organization.
For a thorough discussion of mentoring programs, read this white paper from Forrester.