Career success does not come easy. On the one hand is the uncertainty and ambiguity in the business environment and the other has to do with employees having diverse aspirations. It is important that employees get the right impetus to grow professionally in this dynamic landscape.
According to one study, millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. This means that millennials will make up a major chunk of tomorrow’s leaders, and they must be prepared to help navigate the organizations in the right future direction. This is possible only if younger employees learn the right things and learn them well; it is no surprise that organizations are rethinking ways of learning to bring young leaders up to speed. One way is to mentor young professionals, where senior leaders counsel and guide younger employees to step up to success.
How to Build a Mentoring Program?
Mentoring programs need to be owned by business leaders and the HR function. An ideal mentorship program constitutes the following steps:
1. Defining the objectives: Mentorship programs can have multiple objectives- developing future leaders, aiding retention, onboarding new hires, etc. HR and business should select the right ones based on the business strategy.
2. Identifying the right mentor-mentee pairs: The ideal mentor-mentee pair can work wonders. Identifying pairs should account for interests and aspirations. Mentors should use insights about their junior employees to help identify the right mentee.
3. Inculcate training: Business leaders who seek to be mentors must undergo training to enable them to understand best practices, including learning on how to handle difficult conversations and feedback.
4. Communicate: At the outset, and on an ongoing basis, mentors should set the right expectations with their mentees so that mentees know what to expect.
5. Evaluate continuously: Tracking and ensuring that the right KPIs and improvement areas are being focused on is part of ensuring that the mentorship journey is successful.
But merely following the process is not enough, business leaders should reflect about the personality type and characteristics of their mentee and then identify the right support.
Types of mentoring programs
While the above framework ensures a great mentorship process, it is important that business leaders select the right mentorship type to make the mentorship relationship and outcomes highly effective. Here are some primary mentorship-types to consider taking up:
1. Career mentoring: Business leaders must assess mentees’ career aspirations and aim to align them with the organization’s goals. Career-development guidance can go a long way in helping young professionals step up the career ladder. It also helps younger employees develop new skills and feel a sense of belongingness with the organization.
2. High potential employee mentoring: Once organizations identify high potentials (HiPos), they must invest in them differently; these are, after all, the future leaders of the organization. Business mentors must focus on exposing HiPos to different areas of the business, develop their leadership skills and provide them new and exciting career opportunities.
3. Mentoring for under-represented groups: Minority employees face challenges that conventional employees may not. For example, women employees, LGBT+, etc., A mentoring opportunity can help identify new issues. It is about empowering a diverse range of employees to share their opinions, ideas, knowledge, and experiences on a level playing field. Mentors must focus on creating cultural awareness and cultivate trust and support.
4. Mentoring for specific skills: Building the right skills, knowledge, and expertise at the right time is critical to the employee and organizational success. Knowledge-sharing and creation is an important goal of mentoring, and mentors must strive to stimulate situational as well as topical learning in relevant areas of work. Such targeted mentoring helps shorten the learning curve and boost employee productivity.
5. Reverse mentoring: Mentorship is not a one-way process. Senior leaders can also learn from young minds. Reverse mentoring provides that opportunity and mentors should be open-minded enough to learn from lesser experienced employees.
Great mentorship happens on the foundation of trust and support. And the business leader must develop and manage the mentoring relationship continuously. Mentoring is about providing counsel, acting as a confidant and advisor to the mentee, and ideally, this relationship should mature over time. At the same time, mentors must scan the business environment, looking out for threats as well as opportunities for their mentees and the department and organization at large. Above all, mentors should stand as role models, espousing the values that benefit the organization and helping mentees model those values. For this, they must be able to motivate and inspire and help younger employees link their personal goals and values to the larger organizational values.
Mentorship is a shared responsibility between business leaders, HR and L&D. It is a continuous journey with a continuously deepening relationship, and one that elicits even deeper rewards for both parties, and the organization. Mentoring gives senior business leaders an opportunity to create a lasting impact by moulding talent in the right direction. And it opens up new avenues for young professionals to rise in their career.