Why Create Mentoring Programs?

For mentees, the value of having a mentor is undeniable. Among the many benefits, a good mentor can help a mentee become more efficient at work, learn new skills, develop greater confidence, and make more logical decisions. Mentors report many benefits as well, including satisfaction from seeing others develop; expanded generational and cultural perspectives; strengthening mentoring, leadership, and interpersonal skills; and continuing to experience new ideas and insights.

Mentoring that happens organically can be terrific, gratifying, and a source of growth and satisfaction for mentors and mentees. However, organizations that have mentoring programs are able to create additional wins beyond those described above; these include:

· an opportunity to demonstrate that the organization cares about employee development and growth 
· a more engaged workforce
· increased job satisfaction 
· inclusion of more marginalized employees.

Think of it like a garden. If you want flowers to grow, could you get a few to bloom by providing the seeds and sprinkling them on some soil? Sure, and some might even flourish; but if you plant those seeds properly, provide the right soil, and water them, you’ll be following a much better strategy to create something that flourishes.

Who Is Involved in Mentoring?

 Can I have more than one mentor?

Because mentoring is a leadership competency, good managers are often good mentors; but the purpose of these relationships is distinct, and having a mentor who is not your manager provides clear advantages. First, the role of your manager is to make sure first and foremost that you are performing well in your job. The role of your mentor is to make sure first and foremost that you identify developmental goals that work for you, which may or may not have anything to do with your current job. Second, the allegiance of your manager will always be first to making sure the company succeeds; the allegiance of your mentor is to make sure you succeed. Finally, we often hear from mentees that their mentor can provide an unbiased, objective, fresh perspective that a manager may be unable to provide because they are mired in the details of day-to-day work.

On What Topics, When, and How Is Mentoring Most Effective?

At its core, mentoring is about advancing the learning and development of the mentee. A mentoring relationship is most effective when the mentor and mentee take the time at the beginning of the relationship to set specific, measurable, and meaningful goals. This can be focused on any kind of learning—whether personal, professional, or otherwise.

The best time to have a mentor is always now. Because mentoring is a learning relationship, it is beneficial to all people regardless of age or stage. It is never too early for learning and goal development, and it is never too late. We often hear from mentors that they, too, want to be mentored!

Goal-setting is most effective when it is done in the context of a greater vision. This requires taking the time to think clearly about what the purpose of your mentoring is and where you want to be at the conclusion of the mentoring relationship. What skills, competencies, experiences, and knowledge will you need to have to reach your goal? Which of these do you have now? When you identify the gap between where you are and where you want to be, the goals will emerge.

Empowered with this knowledge, you can seek the mentoring relationship that works for you—or even create the mentoring program that works for your entire organization.