Modern Mentoring: Career Development Through Flash Mentoring

There is no mistaking it: business hierarchies are changing at a perceptibly rapid pace. Previously, companies had clearly mapped rungs for employees to climb the corporate ladder. In today’s world, the corporate ladder has flattened (Bersin 2009). This means employees aren’t promoted as often and in turn companies must offer career development to keep their employees engaged. One of the ways to achieve this? Flash mentoring.

But first let’s back up a bit. I’m not saying that a flattened hierarchical structure is negative. It encourages employees to participate in higher-level business decisions, which allows decisions and change to happen more rapidly. However, the decreased number of promotion opportunities means companies must find new ways to engage employees within their careers while embracing the concept of lateral movement and tangible growth within a single position.

Career Development Through Flash Mentoring

How can career development be supported in a way that encourages employees to stop fixating on the corporate climb?

We can give employees new ways to learn lateral jobs and skills. We can try to rejuvenate their engagement without yet moving them into leadership positions. We can help them network and build internal connections throughout the organization.

But how do we do all of that in an efficient way? That’s where flash mentoring comes in.

Also known as session-based mentoring or one-time mentoring, flash mentoring creates a low-pressure environment for mentoring that focuses on single meetings. Although traditional mentoring programs with their long, goal-oriented relationships are effective for certain goals, flash mentoring allows you to achieve entirely different objectives.

How Would Someone Use Flash Mentoring?

Flash mentoring is a fantastic way to:

  • Set up job shadowing for a desired role
  • Learn cross-functionally for lateral movement or to un-silo the workplace
  • Gain advice from multiple people in more senior positions on personal growth planning or engage in reverse mentoring
  • Better understand best practices within the role that the employee currently holds
  • Make a chemistry check, in which employees first use flash mentoring to ensure that a long-term mentoring relationship will have good chemistry
  • Get a perspective touchpoint, in which an employee struggling with solving an issue can request an outside point-of-view

How Does Flash Mentoring Work?

It’s simple. Let’s say a mentee named Sally identifies a mentor from a pool of options because she wants to better understand the job functions within another department. She would request a meeting with a mentor and schedule a block of time to accomplish her set goal. If she needed more time, she could request an additional meeting or schedule a session with another mentoring partner.

Why Flash Mentoring Works

Flash mentoring can help bridge the gap between the need for mentoring and the limited time and attention a person has to engage, especially as it gives junior employees more access to executives. We know that executives are often busy people. And at times, they’re reluctant to engage in traditional mentoring programs because they’re concerned about the time commitment. But mentors in a flash mentoring program don’t need to commit to six months; they just need to commit to a short meeting. Topics can be based on immediate or long-term need.

The best part about introducing flash mentoring is that it’s administrative light and can work nicely in conjunction with a more traditional mentoring program or as a standalone program.

Consider Flash Mentoring for Your Company

According to research, retention is 25 percent higher for employees who have engaged in a company-sponsored mentoring program (Deloitte Research Brief 2012). As your company thinks about how to introduce mentoring to your employees or breathe new life into an existing program, flash mentoring could be the thing that moves the needle and helps create a great mentoring culture.

With flash mentoring in place, employees can experience greater job satisfaction, gain more skill expertise, and create a network among their peers. What company wouldn’t want that for their organization?

Lamoureux, Kim. “Modern-Day Career Management Key Trends, Models and Case Studies.” Bersin & Associates. (accessed November 19, 2015).

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