Over the past 15 years, mentoring programmes have bloomed in all sorts of settings: multi-national corporations, Universities, professional associations, NGOs . . .
Their general purpose in almost all cases is to enable less experienced people to benefit from the wisdom of more experienced people, in a relationship which is free from the pressures of performance evaluation, politics, and competition. In a mentoring relationship, the mentee is free to pose questions and ask for advice that he or she might not want to express to their boss or HR, including questions about long-term professional growth, dealing with company politics, and work challenges that feel overwhelming.
Mentoring programmes also have some very beneficial side effects, from which much of their impact springs as well. These include:
- Additional support for employees with over-stretched bosses
- Recognition for high potentials
- Encouragement for key employees who feel neglected by the current system
- A way to highlight and leverage the experience of long-tenured employees
- A bridge across the age / generation gap
- A tool to instill or solidify a common organisation culture by mixing mentors and mentees across geographies, functions, business units, etc.
- A catalyst for better communication and best-practice sharing
- A powerful message that talent development is about learning by doing, role models, and support from more experienced professionals
When designing your mentoring programme, even a small scale one, ask yourself and your colleagues which of the additional points above (or others!) are “side effects” you’d like to see. Then, you can design your programme to address the full agenda. You can also separate out those objectives that can primarily be addressed through mentoring, versus those that, while getting a boost from the mentoring programme, still need their driving force to come from a different angle(s).
Once you’ve decided what the full agenda for your programme is, you can tailor your communications so that everyone understands not only what it is but why it’s a worthy investment.
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