A Year in the Life of an Organisation’s Mentoring Programme

Organisations mentoring programme - black male mentor advising red haired female employee

I have spent many years working in-house managing a changing environment for people at work.  Working with some amazing people and organisations, I have seen some terrific changes in work cultures and skills development.  Having joined Antoinette Oglethorpe Ltd, an organisation I trust and admire, I can continue to help other organisations to benefit from the training and development programmes we deliver.

I have decided to put my neck on the line and share with you my journey, of developing and implementing a mentoring programme within an organisation. This is a year in the life of an organisations mentoring programme with AO Ltd!  I hope that by seeing and hearing what goes on during the implementation, you will be able to learn what works and what is important in developing your people through mentoring in your organisation.  Please share your comments as we go through this journey together!

Why mentoring?

Organisations have so much on their plates right now just to stay afloat. Why would they choose mentoring to turn their business around and retain their people?

Over the last year, people have been riding stormy seas at work.  Some have been furloughed, some asked to work shorter hours for less pay, some have had to really challenge themselves to learn new ways of working and develop new skills. Nearly all office workers have had to adapt to remote working. We have lost the companionship of going into a place of work regularly.  Who had even heard of Zoom before March and even less dreamed that this would define a whole new way of working? 

Now, more than ever, we need to work harder to build bridges and communicate more effectively with our remote colleagues.

In the past, when we have expected people to adapt and work differently, we have usually underpinned this change with a management or leadership development programme.  These days, some organisations recognise that we need a new approach to growing our people. Developing a mentoring approach to learning. 

The benefits of an organisation’s mentoring programme

Mentoring gives people access to a wealth of know-how developed in their own organisational environment.  Most importantly, this access to learning comes on demand, at the time they need it most and through a trusted source.  Mentoring builds collaboration through networking, breaks down silos and is a cost-effective model of developing your people. All of which can be achieved remotely.

“With the right opportunities for progression and development, employee engagement in organisations can increase, clear career development and talent retention can be achieved and the cost of recruitment can be reduced.”

M-Power. A Practical Guide to Mentoring in the Workplace

We know from experience, that people who have access to a mentor or are mentors themselves, are:

  • More motivated
  • Welcome challenge and change
  • Stay longer with their organisations

The value of mentoring programmes in onboarding our new colleagues are well documented. Why do we not do more to continue to grow engagement with our more established colleagues?

“In 2006, the information technology research and advisory company, Gartner, conducted a study that revealed employee retention rates were higher for those who engaged in a mentoring programme. This was true for both mentors (69%) and mentees (72%).”

Antoinette Oglethorpe

Who am I working with?

I am working with one such organisation who has recognised these advantages. I will share our journey in this blog over the next year as we develop and implement their mentorship programme.  They are a large, complex umbrella organisation with smaller, regional hubs all over the world.  Much of the work they do is project-based, driven by political drivers. This makes the organisation complex to navigate.  Their people are highly skilled with many years of training and education under their belts.  They are thoughtful and reflective individuals and have high expectations for their career development.

What’s our process?

Step one: Define the successful outcome of your organisations mentoring programme.

The key here is to focus on a group of people that will make a significant difference to the organisation or project.  What will they see and do that will be different for them and how will they feel?  If your teams are more engaged, motivated and supported, what difference will this make to your organisation?

When you have clearly articulated what will be different, you will have identified your success criteria against which you can evaluate the performance of your mentoring programme.

In my case, the organisation wants to focus on supporting the development and career opportunities for women researchers in their field and across regions.  They have articulated that these women researchers find it harder to navigate their way across diverse regions in the world. Also through the web of different networks and opportunities.  We will review their progress in the different world hubs and see how mentoring can help them to identify career paths and networks to successfully progress within their organisation.

My first challenge will be to help this organisation to shape and agree their success criteria. We will do this in some detail so that we can build an effective evaluation programme. This will take place through the course of the year.

This month then, I am focussing on getting to meet the main stakeholders in the programme. To find out from them what is important, what they need to see in future and what success will look like for them.

I intend to have some success criteria built around the project proposals. But also some criteria that will describe what the participants will see, feel and hear that demonstrates success. 

What next?

Next time I will talk about communicating the Clarion Call to Action. This engages and excites both mentors and mentees to join the organisations mentoring programme.  We also want to help the organisation to demonstrate how this programme fits within their total People strategy and proposition. Find out more next week. Just how do we motivate people to take time out of their busy lives? And how do we help them appreciate the benefits of their involvement in their mentorship programme? 

We, at Antoinette Oglethorpe Ltd., have the experience and knowledge to help you to identify your approach to mentoring in your organisation.  Why not contact us or sign up for a webinar to find out more?

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