Mentoring is an important business development tool that is too often seen as an ad hoc exercise. Training sessions, career development courses and workshops are thoroughly researched, organized and executed, but mentoring is often viewed as simply informal meetings between a manager and his or her team members. 

While managers should provide feedback to employees from time to time, this isn’t exactly mentoring. This is more along the lines of constructive feedback. And while sometimes an ambitious employee who wants more than just feedback seeks out and approaches his or her own mentors, this does little to help the company as a whole (although these unstructured scenarios may help that individual employee). 

To get the most business benefits out of mentoring, a formal mentoring program needs to be created within the organization. Such efforts benefit more than just the mentee; they benefit the entire organization. 

A structured mentoring program sets the stage for a mentor to provide insight and advice from their own experiences, which helps facilitate knowledge transfer and grooms future leaders. The mentor becomes a role model, coach, sounding board, counsellor and trusted resource. And with that, the mentee’s learning curve is shortened and valuable insider information on how to navigate the company is passed on. 

There are many ways to create mentoring relationships, but the most successful ones:

  • partners a mentor with a mentee who is not in a direct reporting relationship
  • sets goals and objectives at the start of the relationship
  • lasts for a specific period of time and requires a minimum number of meetings during that time
  • has a discussion topic outline to help initiate conversations
  • provides training and reference materials
  • has a method for evaluating relationships once the formal program ends

Aside from the benefits mentoring offers to succession planning, by creating a formal mentoring program within your organization, employees and managers alike will feel more motivated, engaged and supported. All of this leads to increased productivity and greater employee retention. 

And that means that at the end of the day you’ll have more satisfied employees.

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