Successful companies large and small use mentoring to tackle complex human resource challenges such as increasing employee retention, enabling company succession plans, and improving workforce productivity. In fact, corporate mentoring is on the rise with 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies 8 offering professional mentoring programs to their employees. What ways are these successful organizations and businesses using mentoring? Read this article to discover how mentoring is being used in the workplace, including employee career development, leadership development, diversity mentoring, reverse mentoring, and knowledge transfer.
To retain skilled employees and develop future leaders, it’s critical to understand employee career objectives and align them with organizational goals. Opportunity for learning and development is a top driver of engagement, and is more important than leadership, culture, and compensation (Right Management, 2012)1.
By encouraging a learning culture through mentoring, companies ensure that employees take an active role in spreading knowledge and best practices throughout their organization. The collaborative nature of mentoring develops individuals and interpersonal links between individuals, which increases engagement. Corporate mentoring enables both career development and leadership development to help employees develop new skills and feel engaged within the organization. These factors all lead to happier employees and a better retention rate for a stronger, more effective organization.
DAIMLER TRUCKS 3, with multiple offices spread across North America, decided to provide a business mentoring program to all of their 4,000 office-based employees to improve employee development and begin building a leadership succession plan.
“Our aim is multipurpose mentoring,” said Suz Hahn, Learning Architect for Daimler’s Learning and Development. “We’re providing career development and self-development of mentors and mentees. We’re also using Chronus software to cultivate future leaders and talent within Daimler.”
High potentials are an incredibly valuable asset to any company, but they’re often difficult to retain. With careful cultivation, companies can increase retention to ensure they’ll be able to appoint suitable leaders at the top when needed—which is crucial to the health and future of every organization.
However, because high potentials are so important, it’s imperative to engage them while also exposing them to different areas of the business, developing their leadership skills, and ensuring they’re learning what they need to excel in prospective new roles.
Professional mentoring programs are an effective strategy to reward high potentials with personal attention and guidance, which leads to nurturing an organization’s leadership chain. By connecting high potentials with leaders, top performers, and each other across the company, high potentials learn faster and are ready to take on leadership positions sooner. This results in improved engagement and a faster time to productivity, while leveraging internal resources, to keep costs to a minimum.
DELOITTE’s4 Emerging Leaders Development Program connects high-potential managers from underrepresented groups to formal mentors. When forming these pairs, Deloitte factors in geography, service line, growth opportunities, what gaps the mentee has and where he or she needs visibility. These mentoring pairs then work at building trust between each other so they can form a strong, influential relationship, which lasts for a minimum of two years. “It gives the most senior leaders in the firm an opportunity to engage with a cross section of leaders that they normally wouldn’t see in their day jobs,” says Kathy Hannan, managing partner for corporate responsibility and diversity. The program also shows mentees possible future careers.
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A diverse workforce is required to stimulate innovation, cultivate creativity, and steer business strategies. Mentoring empowers a diverse range of employees to share their opinions, ideas, knowledge, and experiences on a level playing field.
Through diversity initiatives, employees learn cultural awareness to create an inclusive corporate culture and learn of their own importance to their company.
Mentoring creates an environment of trust, belonging, understanding, support, and encouragement for a diverse workforce. It gives employees an opportunity to voice their concerns, overcome hurdles, and find solutions. As a result, it inspires employees to perform to their highest ability.
Mentoring not only helps organizations develop and retain diverse talent, but it also helps build a robust community of diverse talent for the future. The effects of diversity mentoring help corporations differentiate themselves from their competitors and gain new clients while providing long-term support for their employees.
See how software helps makes diversity mentoring easy
DEUTSCHE BANK5 found that in the aftermath of the financial crisis, a diverse workforce had become even more of a priority for financial service companies. Internal company research revealed that female managing directors who had left the firm did so because they were offered better positions elsewhere. In response, Deutsche Bank created a sponsorship program aimed at assigning women to critical posts. The company paired female executives with executive committee members who served as mentors. This not only raised the women’s visibility, but also ensured that they would have a powerful advocate when promotions were being considered. As a result of this professional mentoring program, one third of the participants were in larger roles, and another third had been deemed ready to move up by senior management.
Popular among companies that believe everyone has something to bring to the table, reverse mentoring partners an older, more experienced employee with a younger, less experienced newcomer.
It differs from traditional mentoring because it’s the new employee who serves as the mentor, providing senior members of the organization with up-to-date information on the latest business technologies and workplace trends.
Reverse mentoring is generally a two-way street, with a partnership that provides the younger employee with a chance to see the larger picture as well as macro-level management issues.
HARTFORD INSURANCE6 saw that to reach new customers, they would have to encourage older employees’ familiarity with social media while also increasing company-wide usage. They were also concerned regarding the changing demographics of the company. With baby boomers set to retire in their company and a nationwide millennial attrition rate of 15%, they knew they would have to do something to engage their workforce.
Hartford Insurance implemented a reverse-mentoring program to help address this need. Their program consisted of a group of senior managers and junior employees who were paired into mentoring groups. These mentoring interactions have saved the company both time and money through improvements in planning campaigns, advancements in the company’s internal electronic communications network, and newly engaged millennials who are eager to make a difference at their company. This group has also emphasized the need for the company to become more fluent in social media, mobile computing, the cloud, and other digital technologies so that Hartford Insurance will remain a competitive company in the years to come.
BENEFITS Because many millennials are unsure of what they can bring to the table and their future career options, reverse mentoring can be an excellent way to continually engage them within the organization.
Reverse mentoring also provides senior executives with the satisfaction of sharing knowledge with a different generation, increasing multi-generational engagement and reducing conflicts throughout the organization.
Helping employees acquire necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise is essential for any organization. Mentoring is an effective approach to organize, create, capture, and distribute knowledge. It supports short- and longer-term situational as well as topical
learning between individuals and groups. It also reduces the time required for knowledge transfer by providing direct access to a range of experts and peers who can share the required knowledge and skills in an environment that promotes rapid learning.
Because 80 percent of learning is informal (as commonly cited by Bersin), mentoring empowers learning in ways that manuals, intranets, and training programs can’t. It shortens the learning curve, enhances productivity, and helps employees align to business strategy. In addition, knowledge transfer fuels succession planning, ensuring that once executives retire, someone with plenty of company knowledge will be ready to step into place.
KPMG7 started its “Leaders Engaging Leaders” program because they wanted to expand opportunities for a diverse group of managers. Their business mentoring program pairs 60 top managers with members of the management committee, the board of directors, and national managing partners.
This mentoring program provides their employees with an opportunity to engage with a cross section of leaders they wouldn’t normally see in their day jobs, which expands knowledge transfer within the company and encourages their leadership goals.
Several people in Leaders Engaging Leaders have taken on more significant leadership roles, including one who has joined the board of directors. KPMG is currently looking to expand the program. “The goal is ultimately to drive it down deeper into the organization,” Hannan says. “It really helps with retention […] and gives folks a line of sight to a number of opportunities across the firm.”
In today’s volatile business world, it’s extremely important for organizations to engage employees both intellectually and emotionally. Through mentoring, employees identify themselves as a vital part of the organization while creating a heightened level of ownership. By improving employee engagement and retention along with other company initiatives, mentoring helps the company’s bottom line while also ensuring that employees feel committed to accomplishing their work in accordance to the vision of the organization.
This paper has outlined the many benefits of mentoring throughout an organization and the employee lifecycle. Easily adaptable, mentoring can address multiple talent and career development initiatives. It’s a proven, cost-effective way to develop employees of all levels and is an engagement tactic that shouldn’t be overlooked.
However, setting up a program requires thought, planning and effort. If your program will have more than 50 participants, consider using software. Software makes it easy to start and manage a corporate mentoring program. Additionally, software can provide in-depth metrics on the health of your program plus demonstrate how your program helps achieve business goals like employee engagement, development, and retention.
Mentoring programs profiled here are for illustrative purpose on the power of mentoring, gathered by researching publicly available data. These examples do not necessarily indicate a customer relationship with Chronus. For Chronus customer examples, visit our case study page.