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Why is Mentoring Catching on in Corporates?

Mentoring is the new buzzword in corporate circles. Judge for yourself from various survey findings we reproduce below:

71% Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programsAssociation for Talent Development

Of those who have mentors, 97% say they are valuable –  Sage

67% enterprises reported increase in productivity due to mentoringMentorsMe

It is easy to see why more and more businesses are introducing formal mentoring programs at the workplace. Not only does mentoring help instil a knowledge-sharing culture in the organization, it increases employee engagement and promotes collaborative learning. There are many benefits of mentoring and we will take you through the most important ones.

Mentoring as an On-boarding Exercise: This is the traditional approach to mentoring, where a new employee “reports” to a senior colleague who manages all the learning needs of the fresh recruit. This approach has been tweaked by various companies, notably software major Microsoft, which introduced the Buddy program where peer group members were paired with new hires. Now, the Buddy culture has caught on and has helped to arrest the 40% turnover rates within the first 90 days of employment. New employees no longer need to look for a mentor or find a mentor to understand Company culture.

Mentoring as an Employee Development Measure: Promoting an employee’s career goals is perhaps the most fundamental objective of mentoring. A company that wishes to align business goals with the aspirations of staff will do the smart thing by introducing mentoring as a means to skill development to achieve both the employer and employee objectives. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar is known for its three-year training program where senior mentors teach mentees skills. Mentoring has thus moulded learning and teaching to attain company milestones.

Mentoring as a Reverse Learning Program: Though new and revolutionary, the reverse mentoring program at many forward-looking companies is making for the right headlines. Jack Welch of General Motors is credited for pairing senior staff with juniors to learn how to navigate the Internet way back in 1999.The younger mentors no doubt got greater visibility while the company created a reciprocal learning environment. Neither do the juniors need to find a career mentor online nor do the seniors have to find a business coach for their professional needs. Mentoring has equally served to fill the generation gap at the workplace.

Mentoring as a Leadership Orientation Strategy: Despite having experience, knowledge and skills at various levels, many companies suffer for the lack of leadership due to employee attrition, changing technologies and organization maturity levels. A mismatch between these factors deprives the enterprise of effective leadership when needed most. Mentoring helps to increase the leadership bench strength while skilling the staff faster in tune with the needs of the organization. Aerospace company Boeing is known to provide leadership skills training across disciplines to their staff. Here mentoring not only helps to retain high potential staff, while training the others to measure up in time. 

Mentoring as an Instrument of Inclusivity: Most progressive MNCs have introduced mentoring as a means to encourage a diverse and gender-neutral workforce. Mentoring in such an environment empowers employees from various backgrounds and ethnicities, as well as those who are specially-abled. Such a workplace fosters innovation by helping to overcome rigid mindsets. Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Company partnered LGBT employees with senior management to influence company culture and philosophy. Thanks to formal  mentoring   finding a mentor for a career is no longer a challenge for special employee groups.

Mentoring as a Collaborative Learning Aid: Collaborating to learn within an organization is gaining popularity as a cross-departmental knowledge sharing and learning experience. As organizations hire talented individuals across age groups, special groups and geographies, as also returning professionals, gig workers, work from home consultants and so on, like-minded employees come together in a ‘mentoring circle.” The concept gained popularity when Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg promoted the Lean In concept for women workers. Financial services company Morgan Stanley has also introduced a mentorship for women in sales. 

As you can see, mentoring comes in myriad forms to the corporate world today.