Organizational mentoring done well

All humans need support every now and then. That’s not questionable.
People encounter questions, struggles, dilemmas and challenges that need to be overcome – and an experienced person could help.

Is the same true for employees? Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Over 80% of Fortune 500 companies use mentoring programs, and all of Fortune 50 companies (100%) use mentoring
  • The likelihood of an employee who is being mentored to be promoted is five times higher than their un-mentored colleagues
  • Employees who enjoy regular mentoring are 72% more likely to be retained than those who are not using mentoring.

Quite staggering, isn’t it?

Yet not all mentoring was born equal.

Whether done internally within the organization or externally using mentors from other organizations or systems – mentoring good ranges from an “effective game changer” to “meh” to “not useful at all”…

Considering the fact that none of us – employees or companies – have spare time or money to spend, how can we make sure that mentoring is fulfilling its promise and achieving the desired results?

Defining the goal

Every good mentoring, exactly like any other professional decision, should be executed only after defining a set goal with full clarity. Is this mentoring meant to provide Professional or Power skills? Is it for the sake of improving a current skill or competency, or towards future development? Is leadership capacity involved? Is the mentoring aimed at uplifting someone to take agency?

This is just a partial list of questions, but quality mentoring can’t succeed without posing those in advance. You can only achieve what you’re aiming for, so it’s essential to start with an accurate and thorough goal setting.

Matching is key

Imagine the most brilliant quantum physics engineer mentoring your VP of marketing; Or picture your best salesperson who has never managed people mentoring a new team lead on leadership; none of those make much sense, right?

Those are two obvious examples of bad matching and are quite easy to avoid, yet too often there’s mal-matching happening when it’s not subtle or fine-tuned enough.

The key would be not to get blinded by the proficiency of the person but to consider an array of criteria that need to be met in the matching process.

Criteria you’d like to consider could include skills, professional background, experiences, overcomed challenges, seniority, industry background, etc. The more granulated the specifications are, the more likely the matching is to be accurate and therefore effective.

Mutual expectations setting

You’ve set the goal and found the perfect match, not what? Jumping straight to the mentoring sessions without having full clarity about the expectations of this process is in danger to result in frustration.

Being clear on what the mentored employee would expect to receive, as well as being clear on what the mentor can (and is willing) to provide is a necessary step to build trust, support the mentorship relationship, and to produce the desired results.

This step could be done using a questionnaire, an open introductory conversation, writing things down for full transparency, and basically making sure that both parties are stepping into the mentoring process with their expectations aligned. Every mentoring relationship is a bit different, which is a natural part of human interaction, and this is why there’s always room for open and transparent communication.

Measuring is knowing

When people think of measuring, they often think of quantitative data, hard numbers, and a delta to calculate. This is a false assumption that ignores the ability to set clear KPIs to your goals and measure them effectively – even when this is a soft area that relies on human interaction and even behaviour change.

Hopefully, you set a clear goal for the mentoring process, and therefore now it’s time to track and measure it against the desired result. If you can’t measure it – it’s hard to see the progress and iterate if needed.

Measuring the mentorship KPIs will usually be based on qualitative methods such as questionnaires, surveys, pulse checking, personal interviews involving keywords you’re looking for, and pattern recognition.

If that sounds like a lot of work you’re probably right, but there’s always a more efficient way to do it, for example, to use designated tools rather than reinvent the wheel or attach the requirement of filling in a survey to an action that’s being done anyway (e.g. end of the week report). Those could also be designed to be engaging and not too burdening, and keep in mind the purpose – to KNOW if the mentoring is achieving its purpose and is not just… meh.

To conclude, mentoring within organizations is a brilliant and most-needed way to upskill, reskill, and retain your employees. At the same time, you would always want to make sure that it’s done effectively and thoroughly to maintain trust and produce great results.

Curious to know how helps companies enhance employees’ capacities with a unique matching approach? Drop us a line and let’s talk.

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