More and more companies incorporate mentoring programs to educate their employees, and this leads us to the question: What is a mentoring program for? What are the keys to success in this activity? What benefits do the mentees get with this process? Why is a mentor willing to transmit his or her knowledge and time free of charge to another person?
All these questions have answers, but it is important to begin by dealing with the question about the essence of mentoring. The fact is that this is a practice whereby one person educates another through the exchange of his or her own resources, knowledge, values, skills, points of view, attitudes, and competences, within an organization. To this extent, it is not possible to consider mentoring the mere exercises of evaluation or direction that are carried out in a company. Mentoring, rather than qualifying someone’s skills, involves teaching, re-phrasing concepts, and helping mentees to find paths that lead them to his or her goals. Mentoring is not, in a strict sense, a sponsorship (although there is a type of mentoring that points to it.)
Read also: Mentoring techniques: Which suits you best?, by Suzzanne Uhland
Mentoring allows a mentee to develop skills and new knowledge, and help him or her to achieve concrete goals. To the mentor, this activity offers the opportunity to develop different perspectives, ask new questions, learn about other concerns and expand the personal and professional vision. After all, someone who teaches something learns double and faces the great challenge of defining and confirming what he or she knows and does not know.
The mentor’s job is a tremendous challenge. It aims to contribute to the learning process of the mentee, and this means, among many things, that, in addition to the conversations proper to any encounter, mentors can facilitate new contacts of whom mentees can learn, and thus can contribute to the acquisition of knowledge. A mentor teaches what no one teaches you in college. These tricks of everyday life, those long years translated into experience, can be transferred in some well-taught lessons and assimilated. This not only contributes to the proper functioning of a company, which may have worked in a certain way for a long time, and it may be desirable that this continues to be so, but is a very useful learning for any newbie who wants to perform as a professional and as a person.
As the mentoring relationship progresses, the mentor also serves as an advisor. To do this, it must respond to the mentee’s need to contrast his or her own ideas. The mentor also acts as a counselor, and for this purpose brings his or her views and opinions based on experience, as well as the transmission of new perspectives, which help the mentee to make better executive decisions.
The global nature of companies is a feature that is increasingly present throughout the market for goods and services. This, in turn, requires professionals to be more open and connoisseurs of new environments. For this reason, it is important to ask about the strategic reasons that companies should develop in terms of a mentoring project.
The most common reason is usually internal support or a valuable talent for the organization. This tool is also often used to facilitate succession plans, to boost the career of employees, to improve the retention of key personnel within the company, or to help the integration of workers in the company or new positions.
It is a known fact that managerial productivity increases to almost ninety percent when a mentoring project is implemented. This, compared to almost twenty-five percent productivity when we talk about traditional business training. It is also known that minds can improve up to eleven core competencies much more effectively than traditional methods. In fact, thirty-five percent of the most talented workers who have not received mentoring usually seek a new job in no more than two years. This means that the rotation of a company, which in some cases is irrelevant, in others is positive, and in others is counterproductive, depends to a large extent on the presence of mentoring processes within an organization.
In consequence, it is necessary to increase high-level learning, and, at the same time, to re-create training times and costs. Programs and courses for managers are not common. The exchange of mentors and mentees provokes very profitable relationships for all the participants and does not imply great investments for the companies.
It is normal for many people to be skeptical on mentoring. After all, this is a novel and a reactionary way of traditional training in the business world. Although it is not a new issue (if we analyze the history of Ancient Greece, we could find mentoring processes, somehow,) in the conservative business world is not even thirty years old.
Actually, its benefits are very interesting and the reasons for not using it (which could imply lack of time or the small size of some companies) are very few in terms of the positive aspects of this practice.
Recommended: Four Key Benefits of Workplace Mentoring Initiatives