Guided by an expert
What teacher would we choose if we could? Undoubtedly the wisest. This is what mentoring does with great success. Nevertheless, be careful! Even though it has become trendy, only a well-defined and management-backed program, with a meticulous selection of its participants (Mentors / Mentees) and a suitable support process, can turn mentoring into one of the most powerful development tools in any company. All the rest are just substitutes.
Objective: To establish within an organization a development culture that ensures optimal management of knowledge of the business and people management-related aspects of the company’s main benchmarks.
Project: When it comes to starting up these types of programs, the following are very important factors: the company’s maturity with respect to its teams’ management and development; the Senior Management’s support of the Program; the choice of participants (Mentors and Mentees) must be meticulous; matching must be carried out scrupulously; communication must be consistently transparent and all of the above has to be established within a structured work and monitoring process for the Mentor and the Mentee.
Outcome: Companies that implement a mentoring program properly generate a development culture; they involve senior management; they ensure that knowledge is transferred in a real and seamless way and that “talent” continues to grow inside the organization.
Since Ulysses left his son Telemachus’ education in the hands of his loyal friend Mentor while he was fighting in Troy, the figure of the mentor as a teacher has been venerated in all cultures. Surveys among company officers differ more or less in percentages but all of them coincide in something essential, which is signaling mentoring as one of the main professional development tools.
Which qualities afford it such power? An experienced person generously contributes his knowledge and his time to help an employee develop his potential. It entails learning under the supervision of benchmark professionals in the Company, accessing a program that is much more valuable that any training because it is formed of knowledge that is not conveyed in any other type of development program and, above all, of creating a team with an overall, cross-sector vision of organizations.
How is it implemented?
In spite of the fact that it seems to have become trendy because of its excellent results, there should be no misunderstanding: mentoring is a program that should be properly designed and which requires the clear involvement of the company’s Senior Management, meticulous selection of participants, a structured Mentor / Mentee work process and a close monitoring method by the company.
This type of initiative is underpinned by a corporate culture that is firmly committed to talent development and which aims to take maximum advantage of the knowledge and know-how acquired by transmitting it to new generations under the premise that nobody is indispensable in an organization.
Suitable guidelines for implementing and ensuring the success of a Mentoring Program are as follows:
- The involvement of the Senior Management is essential because they are going to ask their most valuable officers to dedicate part of their time to supporting the employees with the greatest potential in the organization.
- Correct identification of the Mentors: they must meet selection criteria that are suited to the program’s objectives. The Mentor must be a benchmark in the company who stands out not only on account of his track record and vision but also because of his specific personal qualities such as active listening, empathy and concern for people development. The Mentors should never be the Mentees’ direct bosses and it is advisable for them to furnish the Mentees with a global, cross-sector vision of the business. Members of the Management Committee are usually a good choice.
- Choosing the Mentee group: All companies have a talent bank which should produce these employees, regardless of their gender, age, training, etc.
- The matching is part of the key to the program’s success and stems from an in-depth analysis process based on strict selection criteria that ensure Mentor / Mentee complementarity.
- Start-up: The program should last between a year and a year and a half. During this time, it is important that a structured work plan is in place for the Mentor and the Mentee. The idea is not for the Mentor to give the Mentee theoretical master classes but that he should suggest the implementation of specific actions and furnish the Mentee with all the experience he has accumulated on business and people issues, always using as a point of reference the development objectives set by the Mentee.
- A specific and structured work plan. The project should be supported by a structure and organization that furnishes it with process and method:
- It will begin with a group session for the Mentors and another for the Mentees to explain the process, their role and the resources allocated to them during the program.
- Between seven and nine individual Mentor / Mentee work sessions should be staged throughout the entire program.
These sessions will last between an hour and a half and two hours. Ç
- The Mentors and Mentees should have sufficiently comprehensive support resources they can use throughout the program: the Mentee and Mentor Guides.
- In the first Mentor / Mentee work session, they will both establish together an action plan detailing the development objectives to be fulfilled during the program.
- A monitoring process will be defined for the Mentors and Mentees that they can use for support and consulting purposes.