January is National Mentoring Month


With January being National Mentoring Month, I thought it was very appropriate to introduce the subject of mentoring in one of my first blogs of the new year. National Mentoring Month began in the US in 2002 and was created to promote youth mentoring.

Today many forward thinking organizations, both large and small, recognize the value of incorporating and supporting mentoring programs in their workplace. Executives with a focus on talent want to nurture, retain, and grow the people who will become their future leaders. They want to share the benefits of their own hands-on experience, and keep ahead of the changing market conditions. These leaders value adaptability, creativity, and innovation.

Up until just a few years ago, corporate mentoring programs were designed primarily for high potential employees. This practice was turned upside down when the technology sector started rapidly growing and competing for talent. Although there are several forms of mentoring, the two main types are:

  1. Developmental mentoring – the mentor is helping the mentoree develop new skills and abilities. The mentor is a guide and a resource for the mentoree’s growth.
  2. Sponsorship mentoring – the mentor is more of a career influencer than a guide. In this situation, the mentor takes a close interest in the progress of the mentoree. The mentor “opens doors”, influencing others to help the mentoree’s career advancement.

Mentoring benefits are NOT LIMITED to just the development and advancement of the employer’s future. There are also considerable “wins” for both the mentor and mentoree in this program. Mentoring is regarded by employees as being one of the most valuable and effective rewards any employer can offer their people.

Key benefits that Mentoring Programs offer EMPLOYERS include:

  • Improve overall performance, morale and motivation in the workplace with effective engagement and people development strategies
  • Discover talent and build a pipeline of future leaders by placing emerging talent on a directed career track
  • Enhance leadership and coaching skills in existing managers
  • Improve employees’ technical knowledge and train specific skills
  • Stimulate stronger communication and problem-solving skills at all levels
  • Cultivate long term loyal employees that value collaboration and the sharing of information
  • Develop cross-organizational teams and networks that support future growth
  • Foster recognition, personal and professional growth as a corporate brand
  • Support onboarding strategies that quickly acclimate new employees
  • Create a desired culture that shares preferred company behaviors and attitudes

Key benefits for the MENTOREE’S include:

  • Feedback and advice on developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses
  • Guidance and sharper focus on professional development and advancement
  • Increased visibility and recognition within the company
  • Opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge
  • Exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking
  • Personal champion that emphasizes accountability
  • Open doors and build a strong network of contacts
  • Leads to career mobility and more professional opportunities

Key benefits for the MENTOR include:

  • Recognition and respect as a subject matter expert
  • Enhance own skills in coaching, counselling, listening and modelling
  • Develop and practice a more personal style of leadership
  • Opportunity to reflect and align on own goals and practices
  • Personal satisfaction and increased confidence helping someone achieve their professional goals
  • Opportunity to build an enduring career network and give back to the industry
  • Obtain a greater understanding of the barriers experienced at lower levels of the organization
  • Exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches

The current and well-publicized war on talent may be having a real impact on your business. Remember it is also doing the same thing to your traditional and yet to come competitors. Every company is experiencing challenges in their ability to attract quality people, protect themselves from the poaching of their competitors, and identify ways to successfully deal with higher turn-over due to employee defection and early retirement.

Mentoring programs are an extremely effective solution that combats, offsets and addresses the setbacks in your business. Mentoring is so much more than just coaching and counseling – it supports the qualitative and subjective parts of every employee in your organization – from the top down. What better strategy do you have to deal with employee frustration, give constructive criticism and effectively handle disappointment in a way that uses both humility and compassion towards your people?

Mentored employees stay on the job longer because they feel a greater sense of loyalty and commitment. They produce higher levels of productivity and make fewer mistakes on the job. All in all mentored employees end up improving your corporate results, reduce corporate losses and create the type of environment every company strives to achieve – an environment focused on out-and-out success.

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”

~ Japanese Proverb

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