The 27th of October 2017 marks National Mentoring Day, here in the UK. This is a day in which to develop, encourage, and celebrate mentoring programmes and partnerships, discussing business and personal benefits, and showcasing examples of brilliant mentoring. We’re a big fan of workplace mentoring, here at The Watercooler Today – but it’s not just us! 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer formal mentoring programmes to employees, including, but not limited to, General Electric, Intel, Google, and Time Warner Cable.
So how does workplace mentoring look in practice? And what do its critics say? Read on to find out.
Types of mentoring
The format of mentoring we are probably all familiar with, is relational mentoring. This is where we form close bonds with colleagues in the workplace, and share skills and advice, much as in a friendship. This is largely due to the employees themselves, and can be difficult to regulate or encourage as a business or organisation.
Businesses, increasingly, are instilling formal mentoring programmes. These are organised and maintained by the business, in which managers or HR staff match newer, inexperienced staff with older, more entrenched, members of staff. This is primarily focused on the aims of the company, and the individual within the company, as opposed to encouraging the growth of well rounded individuals, and so the bonds formed through these types of programmes tend to be less close, and less enduring.
A practice that is increasing in popularity within recent years, is reverse mentoring. This is where experienced colleagues are matched with younger newcomers. The newcomers can then offer insight from a fresh perspective, on alternative methods of working, and concerns from an outsider perspective.
Why begin a mentoring programme?
Mentoring programmes offer employees the opportunity to grow and develop as professionals, forming closer workplace bond, and having a clearer insight on how the company department and silos interconnect and communicate. This helps to fuel staff succession planning, reduces employee turnover, and increases job satisfaction levels.
Millennials, in particular, have been shown to respond well to mentoring initiatives, as they feel increasingly valued, engaged, and invested in. Opportunity for learning and development has consistently been named as the top driver of engagement in the workplace, and mentoring programmes combine both of these factors effectively.
However, not everyone is as much of a fan of workplace mentoring schemes. Workplaces are increasingly flexible and fluid, and it can be difficult to combine schedules of two members of staff who are at very different stages of their careers.
It’s also important to avoid any possibility of nepotism, the mentors are there to educate and grow the mentees, but not be influential in securing them promotions or rises at the expense of other staff.
Lastly, we are all human, with different personality, preferences, and foibles. Mentors and mentees will not always get on, in fact, over half of all mentees report a negative experience with their mentor (Eby, McManus, Simon, and Russel, 2000). This can lead to awkward programme terminations, or difficult relationships further down the line, and the mentee progresses through the organisation.
If you’d like to find out more about installing a mentoring programme that facilitates meaningful, valuable, relationships and employees, read more over on The National Mentoring Day’s website here.