Opinion and Analysis
Mentorship schemes pay big dividends
Posted Wednesday, August 1 2012 at 21:09
- The nature and purpose of mentoring must be clearly understood and owned by all concerned, and not least by those at the top.
More and more organisations are becoming aware of the significant benefits that can be obtained from introducing a mentoring programme.
But very few have graduated beyond such awareness to actually making one happen — which is such a shame.
As with anything that’s really worthwhile, it won’t just take off by itself. A great deal of thought, determination and investment of time is needed, as the programme must be well prepared and well managed.
The nature and purpose of mentoring must be clearly understood and owned by all concerned, and not least by those at the top.
As far as I can tell, hardly any organisation in Kenya has devised and executed what I would call a robust and effective programme, never mind one that is integrated into the organisation’s overall strategy.
But those who do come up with well-structured mentoring programmes (and I am aware of a small handful that are doing so) give a great boost to the power of their talent management and become unusually desirable employers.
Mentoring initiatives support all phases of talent management, starting with the induction of new staff.
At a time when newcomers are uncertain and unknown, a mentor will support and accelerate their assimilation, helping them to find their way around and feel at home.
During their time in the organisation their mentor will help them grow and succeed, while reducing their self-doubt and their stress: having good mentors should definitely increase the satisfaction and enjoyment mentees derive from their work.
A further larger benefit of mentoring programmes is that they are more than likely to lead to improved relations between “seniors” and “juniors”.
So with all these advantages, little wonder then that those who have introduced serious mentoring programmes are at a competitive advantage when it comes to retaining their best people.
Now back to making it happen. Senior management must identify a home for the whole initiative (normally HR), and one that exists at a sufficiently senior level in the organisation.
And whoever is driving the mentoring programme had better realise all that they are taking on and quite what expertise and discipline are required.
All sorts of questions arise, from devising the policy to organising the logistics and documentation. How do you select mentors and mentees? Is joining the programme mandatory or optional?
Do you introduce it at some or all levels? Where do you start? How do you match mentors and mentees, pairing them for shared interest and also emotional compatibility?