I doubt that Employer and Employees world over realize that good mentoring is not only a great passage to great career and personal growth; but also great for company’s growth!
Few years back, I was requested by my overseas HR colleague to mentor one of high potential employees working in our company’s unit in a 3rd country. After receiving my consent, she wanted to match my profile with a potential mentee. I wondered how effective such program can be for an employee, with whom I have had no prior contact and resides in another country. So, I had no option but to refuse to be a mentor.
In another instance, I had nominated one of my senior colleagues to a leadership program, part of which was also mentorship for about a year. His mentor was selected from overseas location and both might have spent less than 25 hours over 4 occasions in more than a year. At the end, my colleague was nothing but frustrated.
Above 2 examples are very common in most companies!
Every corporate desires mentoring program; but lacks depth for its details. It talks tall; but falls short in execution.
Meaning of Mentoring
Several definitions have been floated in corporate world. Essentially, mentoring means inspiring a change and sharing ideas to upgrade one’s soft skills and abilities, to take her/his performance to higher levels and facilitate growth.
Myths about Mentoring
There are lot of myths and misconceptions about mentoring. Therefore, real success rate of current mentoring programs across globe is not more than 5%! Some of myths are:
- Regardless of merit, Bosses and senior management personnel are automatically deemed as “qualified mentors”.
This is a farce!
- Recommended qualities of a good mentor are known.
These are actually grey and garbled.
- Notwithstanding pt. 2 above, the models of match making (mentor n mentee) are considered as working!
- It is a collaborative era and hence locations of mentor and mentee are not important – it can be anywhere anytime (time zones).
- Emphasis is more on making mentee to learn company processes, its values and achievements, and financial performance data, rather than focusing on how to set targets and achieve/exceed same, how and why to value “the value system of company” and then to enhance this.
- You do not need to live by mentoring; rather leave mentee alone to figure out!
- Training to train and develop mentors is not important!
Ironically, almost all corporates put their belief in mentoring; but are clueless on necessity of such training.
Making Mentoring meaningful and impactful
- Give mentoring its due, by top leadership driving it.
- Introduce Chief Mentor’s post in the organization, who should be assessed and approved for his /her competence by a neutral agency. He/she should report directly to top management.
Ex CEOs have become Chief Mentors in few well-known companies.
- Induct program to train mentors, preferably by engaging a competent person or agency from outside. It would be best, if person or agency is familiar with organization.
Objective of this program should to train and qualify all top managers as mentors.
It is very likely that some of the managers would fail to qualify. One, who cannot mentor, can also not be successful leader; yes boss he or she can be. Hence, this program would also serve a great cause to chalk out career path for managers.
- Best mentor for employees or mentees is always their manager, provided he/she qualifies as above. Next best option is peer of such manager, if qualified for mentoring.
- It should be made mandatory for all managers to manage 20% of their office time to mentor the designated mentees in his/her group.
Above would push managers to develop their back- ups, where most take back-seat and promote delegation.
- Mentoring must monitor and address all qualities and behavioral aspects of mentees, as a professional.
Most make mistakes in picking and choosing just those, perceived as required for leadership. Most qualities – good or bad, strong or weak, are interconnected in humans. For example, you cannot address mentee’s listening abilities, without paying attention to his ability to focus, extent of his ego and respect for others’ views!
- Measurements are must for performance of mentees and mentor. These should be taken as major inputs for yearly appraisals.
It is an established fact that Mentoring brings magnificent benefits to both Mentors and Mentees! It is an instrument to inspire and introduce an Epic Change!!