Mentoring as a Leadership Development Tool
Too often companies see mentoring as a “program” that takes away from the “business” of making money. It’s another thing “to do” on one’s already packed list of action items. BUT when done as a normal course of business, it’s not onerous and pays back exponentially.
In fact, a recent study found that 58% of new-hires who had been assigned mentors felt valued by their immediate manager and 68% felt more valued by the organization.
It’s natural to assume that the mentee gains the most benefit from the mentoring relationship since they are the recipient of new knowledge and skills, but in fact benefits abound – to the mentee, the mentor, and the organization itself.
Mentees benefit immediately from higher performance and productivity, increased job satisfaction, higher morale, increased visibility with people in higher levels and more insight into a career path. In the long-term, the mentee benefits from having a non-judgmental and unbiased champion in their corner. They get candid feedback without repercussions, insight in to the workings of the organization, and personalized guidance regarding the skills they should develop or the choices they could make to further their career.
Mentors also report increased job satisfaction because they feel valued and are able to give back to their organization. Additionally a mentor benefits from fresh perspectives due to new relationships and develops their own leadership skills.
Benefits to the organization include enhanced teamwork, communication across vertical and horizontal boundaries, an efficient transmission of knowledge and skills, stronger organizational culture, and being seen as an employer of choice.
Here is an idea for establishing an absolutely free mentoring program at your company:
A mentor asks high-gain questions, gives constructive feedback, and helps the more junior associate to recognize and capitalize on their strengths and weaknesses – that’s a pretty simple “task” to accomplish over lunch.
Why not monthly mentor lunches? Instead of sitting with one’s normal group of friends at lunch, at least once a month a junior person and more senior person meet up in the cafeteria for lunch. (Twice a month would be ideal.)
Maybe once a year the company can buy the lunch as a reward for those pairs that have continued their relationship throughout the year. A public “mentor appreciation day” will get attention from those not participating – and encourage more participation!
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By building relationships and networks within the organization, mentoring strongly impacts retention. An organization that utilizes mentoring is preparing for the future of its people as well as the organization as a whole.