As organizations seek ways to retain their top talent and keep employees motivated, mentoring can be a powerful, cost-effective tool. With the proper amount of time and effort invested towards doing this the right way, organizations are likely to see a more engaged, committed, and satisfied staff.
A Key Moment for Mentorship
All employees, but particularly top talent, experience numerous work-related transitions. Entering the workforce from school, receiving a promotion, moving from one functional area to another — these events can be exciting for an individual, but they also have potential to be a bit traumatic.
Changes such as these provide new opportunities for individual growth and development, both personally and professionally. However, individuals going through these changes are not exempt from experiencing anxiety and confusion over their decisions, career trajectory, or work performance.
Without organizational assistance and resources to provide guidance and support during these transitions, individuals might struggle to adapt to their new environment, get up to speed, and can start to experience feelings of incompetency, ultimately ending with the individual under-performing, growing disillusioned, or, at its worst, leaving the organization.
Why Does Mentoring Help?
Although managing these types of transitions is complex, organizations have turned to mentoring as a means of providing support and guidance, especially because it can be a practical and cost effective step in handling these changes successfully.
Having been extensively studied across a variety of contexts (e.g., various industries, career stages), these types of business relationships have been shown to be powerful experiences with numerous benefits for both the protégé, as well as for the mentor.
Benefits for Protégés:
- Feel more empowered, have greater influence over organizational policy, and have greater access to important people and resources
- Experience more career satisfaction, job satisfaction, organizational and career commitment and career motivation
- Have significantly greater career mobility/opportunities, higher income, and an increase in the number of promotions
Benefits for Mentors:
- Increase their credibility with senior leadership as effective developers of talent
- Feel more engaged in their organization
- Develops new leadership skills as they “teach” their protégé
Supporting mentoring in an organization
Given the numerous benefits of mentoring, it can be an underutilized tool for employee development. There are a variety of reasons for this, including lack of available mentors, practical time constraints, or programs that quickly fizzle without visible senior-level support.
Given mentoring’s advantages – the ability to help individuals effectively navigate their careers, and for organizations to reduce turnover and retain engaged, committed employees – it represents a missed opportunity.
Organizations, and their leaders, can engage in these simple steps to help their employees foster these types of relationships:
1. Advocate for Mentoring
This not only means developing formal programs that pair interested mentors and protégés together, it is also critical to create opportunities for potential protégés to foster and grow informal mentoring relationships with others (as these are often high quality relationships).
2. Identify Committed Individuals
Do not assume that every individual will want to be a mentor or protégé. Seek to identify those who are truly interested and engaged. As with any relationship, for mentoring to be truly effective, both individuals need to be committed to making it work. It will be increasingly difficult to have a supportive relationship when either individual does not want to put forth the necessary time and energy.
3. Encourage Structure
Whether the relationship forms through a formal program, or occurs organically, organizational leaders should encourage mentors and protégés to create structure for the relationship. Discussing what each individual expects out of the relationship and establishing goals for achieving these expectations can keep both parties committed and will help ensure the mentorship remains a positive and beneficial experience.
With the appropriate amount of oversight, organizations can use mentoring to enhance the experiences of its employees as well as receive long-term benefits such as increased retention, satisfaction, and organizational commitment.