Full-scale corporate mentoring programs have become commonplace in the HR strategies of nearly all major corporations. Even many medium-sized and small businesses have regimented mentoring programs in place. Statistics show that mentoring programs can help to speed up the rate at which an employee rises through the ranks, and even the rank that the average employee attains. Furthermore, mentoring has been shown to increase the length of time that an employee stays at a company. The same is true for both the mentor and mentee.
The Structure of a Formal Mentoring Program
While informal mentoring programs have been around for many years, formal, structured mentoring programs have only been around for the last two decades or so. Formal programs generally include an application process for both the mentor and the mentee. While mentees can be selected from among anyone in a company, mentors must have a certain amount of experience and knowledge. Some companies require that mentors first serve as mentees.
Once a mentor and mentee are paired, the teaching process begins. The process varies widely from among companies and mentors, but it generally includes a combination of on the job training and lectures. Often, a mentee will shadow the mentor for a specified period of time. The mentor and mentee will often spend a great deal of personal time together, as well, which includes taking lunch and break times together.
The Most Common Formal Mentoring Program: New-Hire Mentoring
The vast majority of structured mentoring programs seen in corporations are new-hire mentoring programs. These programs are targeted at people who have just started to work at a company. This is often a difficult time for them, as they have to get used to different operating procedures and a new corporate culture. In recognition of this difficulty, they are often matched with mentors from their first day at the company. Most companies with established new hire programs use mentors that have been at the company for several years. The individuals who are selected are not only experienced, but the ordeal of starting out at the company is fresh in their minds.
New-hire mentoring effective, according to many studies. In fact, new employees who benefit from a mentoring program are twice as likely to stay in their jobs. Statistics like this have even convinced managers at small and medium-sized companies to start new-hire programs. While many different approaches to mentoring have proven effective, the new-hire approach is generally considered to be the most effective.
The benefits that a mentor receives from the mentor-mentee relationship should not be ignored. Many mentors report being inspired by their protégés and often have new ideas about their work that they would not have had otherwise. Moreover, mentors have shown a greater likelihood of staying in their jobs as opposed to those not involved in a structured mentoring program. Their level of job satisfaction has consistently proven higher than those of similar ages and experience levels.
One distinctly different method of mentorship is commonly known as “high potential” mentorship. Employees who have proven their talent are invited into the mentorship program to be taught by highly experienced executives with the view of grooming them to become executives themselves one day.
These programs are very different from new-hire mentorship for several reasons, chiefly because mentees must be selected to participate in the program. This entails a great deal of time and effort, as the company wants to ensure that its executives’ valuable time is well-spent.
One type of mentorship that is just beginning to catch on is called “vocational mentorship.” The process involves exposing carefully selected candidates to all of the different departments of a company for a short period of time. If done under the careful supervision of an experienced manager, the results can be dramatic. The mentee can learn about all of the aspects of a particular business at once. He or she can then choose which area they want to go into, that is, the area that best suits their specific talents. Of course, their mentor must oversee the process and approve their choices. If done correctly, this can increase the efficiency of a company and improve the morale of the employees.
Mentoring: Is it Really Necessary?
Some traditional managers question the value of a mentorship programs. They say that these programs cost too much time and money and that the resources that could be better spent on other things. However, there is now much evidence that tangible benefits result from mentorship programs. While mentorship programs do cost time and money, more often than not they return what is invested in them. Mentorship programs are expected to continue to increase for this reason.