January is National Mentorship Month. That’s welcomed news for all types of organizations, including companies and their associates. Although the official National Mentorship Month initiative was designed for youth programs, more and more corporations are adopting this platform’s timing to emphasize and level-up their own internal mentorship programs.
In our own activities, we’ve seen a significant uptick in the mentorship undertakings of our clients and especially so when they are linked to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programs and initiatives. The sign-up rate for mentorship programs tied to D&I are double that of when they are offered without that tie-in. And in this age of global corporate footprints, having them accessible to everyone is critical. We discovered that when we offer mentorship programs with virtual access to top mentees (thru our platform – apologies for the gratuitous plug), the engagement numbers increase by almost 100% again. Why you ask? Two reasons:
- Mentees want access to the most senior leaders to get the best mentorship content and experience
- Mentees want to develop their networks at higher levels of the hierarchy – they much prefer being mentored by the VP or National Director of this, rather than the regional manager of that
The only caveat from our experience is to ensure that the mentee is in a state of readiness to absorb and immediately use the teachings of their mentor. Why you ask again? Two reasons:
- There are typically more mentees that mentors to go around – therefore we want to make certain that the recipient matches and is worthy of the opportunity from a practical standpoint
- Mentors are hard to recruit. They are typically more senior and their time therefore more precious. If a mentor feels that the hour she or he just spent was wasted, you’ve lost them
Therefore, it may be a good practice to align mentees with OKRs or educational targets (i.e. three day seminar for pre-mentorship upskilling or knowledge-building on a topic) as well other activities to ensure an appropriate level of preparedness and/or experience is commensurate with the anticipated level of mentorship and learning.
Employees more than anything want upwardly mobility – skills and career development give them that. And what motivator it is. According to The National Mentoring Partnership, young adults who had a mentor were 130% more likely to aspire and hold leadership positions. In anybody’s world, that’s a win/win. So if you’re considering a rewards program or just a more holistic path to motivate and drive career development, offering mentorships by senior leaders offers a more cost effective and a much better incentive than tchotchkes, merchandise or cash. With the up-skilling kicker as a bonus.
The added benefits for the organization are better productivity, increased retention, more engaged employees and improved corporate culture. So if you’re considering establishing a formal mentorship program, establish the structure in function of your desired outcomes (good article from Forbes), measure for adjustments along the way and enjoy the outcomes.