Mentoring is important, not only because of the knowledge and skills employees can learn from mentors, but also because mentoring provides the opportunity for personal and professional development. Skilled mentoring greatly improves employees’ chances for promotion and progression. Research shows that employees who experience good mentoring progress further and faster than peers who may not have had a good mentor.
1. Mentoring Retains Talent
Attracting and retaining talent is a key issue for most organisations. Most invest in effective recruitment. Return on this investment is not guaranteed as even the brightest new hire takes some time to become fully productive. If employees leave within two or three years, their development is an expense that leaves the organisation in deficit. Investing in keeping people who wanted to work for you to start with makes sense. The Center for Creative Leadership tells us that 77% of companies report mentoring to be an effective retention strategy.
People don’t leave jobs, they leave environments that don’t support them. From Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we know that, people seek a sense of belonging. Effective mentoring caters to that need. By establishing a relationship both parties feel connected and valued. And that increases their self-esteem.
2. Mentoring Develops People
Mentoring is about building relationships in the workplace. Mentors are a source of knowledge and skills. They also guide decisions about workplace issues, personal goals and ongoing professional development. They are a professional friend, a colleague to share the rough times and the good and a sounding board for ideas.
Those receiving mentoring enhance their communication skills, assertiveness, decision-making, problem solving and planning. They can gain more control over their career and take responsibility for their own development.
It’s not just the mentee who benefits from mentoring. Mentors get a real sense of satisfaction from their contribution. They also build skills. Mentoring means they interact with someone who is not their direct report. They take a collaborative rather than directive role in decision-making or problem solving. And taking time out to really listen can allow managers to evolve a whole new level of interpersonal skill. They may increase their understanding of other groups, reducing cultural, gender and generational issues.
An effective mentoring conversation uses reflective and active modes of learning. Both parties gain insight and can produce tangible outcomes from their relationship. A well-designed mentoring programme sets up methods for measuring these results.
3. Mentoring supports career development
Research by the Corporate Executive Board showed that 70% of employees are dissatisfied with career development in their organisation. It is a primary cause of attrition. Loyalty to organisations has been wiped out by three decades of downsizing and restructuring. Bright people are savvy about managing their own careers. They don’t stick around where they perceive no interest, opportunity or support for progress. They’re not just looking for money or promotion – though these are important. Some are looking for excitement and challenge. Others want status and perks. Many are looking for balance and life style. But, most want personal and professional growth.
A mentor can help them identify opportunities. They can show the pathways, support the plan and, when needed, provide a reality check. They can also connect them to others so they build networks, access information and research possibilities.
4. Mentoring breaks down barriers
Large organisations are compartmentalised. This reduces cross-organisational communication. A “silo mentality” means that, often: “the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing”. Furthermore, a sense of isolation, or of being just a cog in the wheel can overwhelm a new employee. Mentoring can help people see the bigger picture. Especially, when mentors and those mentored work in different parts of the organisation. Mentors have often moved around and have established networks. They have a broader perspective of the organisation. Knowing what other parts of the organisation do, is often cited as beneficial by mentees.
5. Mentoring increases your return on Investment in learning and development
Research shows that productivity increases by 88% when mentoring is involved compared to only 24% with training alone. What sort of return on investment does your organisation demand for its development budget? It seems it will get more than 60% better results by incorporating mentoring.
Mentors can work with people before, during and after learning events. This ensures that they are receptive to, and see the relevance of, the development opportunity. Discussion and questioning can improve retention of information and insight. Finally, and most importantly, mentoring can increase the likelihood of transferring learning into work practices.
Are you looking to promote mentoring in your organisation or to make an existing mentoring programme more effective? Download your free copy of M-Power. A practical guide to mentoring in the workplace. You will gain an appreciation of the areas you need to consider if you are going to introduce mentoring. And you’ll discover the steps you need to take to make mentoring work in practice.