Mentoring is a career development method whereby less experienced employees are matched with more experienced colleagues for guidance either through formal or informal programmes. Most CEO’s you speak with, will say that they are where they are because they got guidance or advice from some other experienced individuals this most likely was through an informal mentoring relationships. In fact these relationships often continue for their entire careers.
There are many advantages for both the mentor and the mentee or protégé in both formal and informal mentoring relationships. I have worked in an organization where there was a formal mentorship programme and the benefits were quite evident. The excitement, enthusiasm and commitment generated had immediate positive impact. The mentees were young and most were new to the world of work. So, having experienced employees to help them overcome obstacles showed that the organization was serious about them and committed to their future and success.
Benefits for the mentee include job related coaching and counseling, a better orientation and induction into a new organizational culture, more intimate knowledge of the organization and its operations, the potential for networking opportunities, the ability to reach full potential at a faster rate and the mentor’s personal experience in similar situations.
The mentor also gains from the relationship. To share and guide another individual on a path to success is a truly rewarding feeling. Also the mentor’s commitment and loyalty to the organization are enhanced through the experience. Of course, they must be willing to make the relationship work, by dedicating time to the role and providing timely feedback.
All organizations can benefit from the implementation of such a programme. The areas of recruitment, retention, human resource development and culture are all impacted. Programmes can be informal, that is a basic outline is presented and employees chart their own course through it. Structured programmes which often include milestones for various phases of the relationship and deliberate matching of mentors and protégés take more effort, but the rewards can be significantly increased.
There is a lot of material out there, so starting a programme is not that difficult for those with limited resources. For larger organizations the programme can be implemented through the use of a trained facilitator. In these challenging economic times, organizations, guided by Human Resources have to make the effort to keep valuable employees; an informal mentorship programme may be one such avenue.
1Definition from Society for Human Resource Management Knowledge Centre
The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Effective Mentoring, Dr. Norman Cohen
Making the Most of Being Mentored, Gordon F. Shea