MENTORING AT WORK: ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES
An organization can maximize the potential of its internal workforce through mentoring programs. By developing its existing staff, a company can save on the cost of hiring from the outside, uncover hidden talent, boost staff retention, and see protégés direct their creative energy toward finding innovative solutions.
The key to a successful mentoring program is to match the right level of mentoring resources to the right workers. Different combinations of resources applied to different workers yield various outcomes. For example:
*Spending a limited amount of time and energy mentoring workers whose jobs are repetitive with limited growth opportunity may result in talent stasis, or decreased opportunities for people to create value within their organizations.
*Spending a large amount of mentoring resources across the board for everyone in the organization can result in wasted resources because not all workers have the potential to develop enough to justify the investment.
*Spending only a small amount of mentoring resources on people who have great upside potential results in wasted opportunities for development.
*Spending a large amount of resources on mentoring and carefully matching the right mentors to the right workers provides the best leveraging of talent and resources.
EFFECTIVE MATCHING OF MENTOR AND PROTÉGÉ
Informal mentoring occurs when a mentor and protégé naturally gravitate toward each other and form a bond. It is the most effective type of mentoring. It often happens when a senior leader in a company wants to help a junior member who is having career struggles similar to what the senior member once experienced. Or, a junior employee may aspire to a higher position and approach the senior person for advice. This type of mentoring relationship tends to have strong emotional components.
In formal mentoring, a company organizes a mentoring system to match mentors to protégés. Since people are directed to be together rather than naturally coming together, there will need to be a period of trust building and exploration of joint interests.
How organizations can make the best matches in a formal mentoring system is not fully understood, although it is sometimes compared to a dating service. An essential ingredient in the matchmaking is giving the mentee major input into the process. A company can compile a group of people who are willing to be mentors and then the protégés can select who they want to work with. Mentor profiles can help protégés find people with backgrounds, positions, or other qualities that might be a good fit. Other types of information that should be included in a mentor profile include:
*Background information, such as age, location, marital status, ethnicity, and college affiliations.
*Career details, including current and previous positions.
*Professional interests, such as an interest in technology or an industry specialty.
*Personal interests that can help build rapport, such as politics, sports, or fitness.