In the business world, mentoring has been recognized as a practice to nurture up-and-coming employees. The primary purpose of mentoring is professional development. A successful and respected professional, referred to as the mentor, works with another professional who seeks to grow and advance in the organization.
The mentoring role is instruction by example. While the catchwords for coaching are "inspire" and "motivate," the catchwords for mentoring are "instruct" and "guide." Mentoring is all about giving people broader outlooks.
Effective mentoring programs provide a number of advantages, including:
• Projection of a strong and positive employer brand
• Effective succession planning
• Greater employee loyalty
• Increased retention
• Promotion of underrepresented candidates
• Advancement of talented individuals
Providing a mentor who can offer insights into the corporate culture, who can explain the organization structure, and who can help the new entry-level employee understand why things get done the way they do is a major contributor to increased productivity and lower turnover.
Research across a wide range of professions also demonstrates that employees who are involved in mentoring relationships have higher levels of job satisfaction and higher levels of commitment to their organization.
Ideally, employees should perceive mentoring as an organizational priority of executive management. As a developmental approach to workplace learning, mentoring should be viewed as a way to sponsor educational and training projects, activities, and experiences that benefit both the staff and the organization.
Studies consistently show that employees who have mentors have high retention rates and are more productive than those who do not. A well-designed mentoring program at the mid-career level can help employees move up, rather than on, and save companies from recruiting costs and the loss of a potential leader.
Later in one's career, a mentoring relationship is one way to formalize knowledge transfer. Particularly, as employees near retirement age, it is important to encourage mentoring relationships.
These employees are often eager to mentor younger employees because they do not want to see the knowledge they helped to develop lost when they retire.
By passing on lessons learned throughout his or her career, mentors come to feel that they have had an opportunity to "make a difference" and have made a real contribution to their professions, their organizations, and their own lives.
MRA advocates that the goal of a mentorship program should be to improve the work effectiveness and enhance the probability of an employee's success. Successful mentorship programs aid in developing the growth and strategic direction of the organization through succession planning and contributes to the development of leaders, while simultaneously fostering healthy work relationships.
Employers will ensure that they are able to serve employees' training and development needs effectively, while also meeting internal growth and strategic needs.
•Keith Peterson is the Vice President of Learning and Organization Development at MRA -- The Management Association. For more information, visit mranet.org or follow MRA on LinkedIn, Facebook: http://facebook.com/MRAmeansHR or Twitter: @MRA_HR_Pros.