Corporate Mentoring Programs at Work
Randy Emelo’s 2015 book Modern Mentoring took the HR world by storm and quickly became a top seller for publisher ATD Press. In this revolutionary tome, Emelo provides ideas on how organizations can bring a fresh approach to mentoring that is better suited to today’s technologically focused work world, and he outlines how business mentoring programs can use e-mentoring technology to run more effective and efficient programs.
Since the book was published, Emelo and the team at MentorcliQ have been immersed in the modern mentoring approach as mentoring software providers and thought leaders. While none of the core concepts from Emelo’s book have changed, we have learned valuable lessons that can help make running a mentoring program more effective for administrators, and help make being a part of a mentoring program more engaging for mentees and mentors.
Lesson #2: Tie Mentoring to a Core Business Need
A wide-open mentoring program is a noble idea, but not a very effective way to bring mentoring to your organization. We’ve learned over the years that mentoring needs to be connected to a broader employee development program in order for it to take hold. Mentoring in and of itself is a great practice, but unless people have a reason for participating, the odds that they will do so are not in your favor.
Tying mentoring to programs like high potential development, onboarding, succession planning, and diversity and inclusions initiatives is a proven success strategy. Administrators have a built-in audience that is primed to be their mentees and mentors. Those participants have a clear understanding about why they are involved in the mentoring program (see Lesson #1), and administrators can have an easier time explaining how mentoring will play a role in both their development and in the broader initiative (e.g., high potential development).
Lesson #4: Use Mentoring Groups Wisely
Just like mentoring programs in general, we found that the idea of mentoring groups didn’t always gel with reality. Groups are a great way to bring people together to learn from one another and share ideas, but unless someone is actively leading the group, we learned that most groups will stall out. It’s not from a lack of interest or desire to participate, but from a simple lack of direction on what to do once the group gets going.
Mentoring groups work best when they are run by someone who takes the lead for initiating activities and discussions. This can be a mentor or a group facilitator.
That person will be responsible for setting up meetings when needed, giving group members assignments that will further their learning and development, asking people questions to spur dialogue, and so on. A leaderless group won’t get very far, unfortunately. But having someone committed to the growth and success of the group can make all the difference.
These are just a few of the lessons we’ve learned in recent years as we pushed the ideas found in Modern Mentoring. As a practice, mentoring continues to evolve, and we are sure that the lessons we have learned up to this point will change as time goes on. And that is the beauty of mentoring…we never stop learning. So don’t be discouraged if you tried out a concept and it didn’t work for your organization. Look for ways to modify your approach and learn from what we’ve done. Mentoring is not a one-size-fits-all practice, but is definitely a worthwhile practice.