Mentoring is being used by a large number of government and private sector employers to help win the war for talent and build a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Mentoring is frequently cited as a best practice for:

  1. Attracting and retaining staff
  2. Developing leaders
  3. Focusing development on mission-critical goals and behaviors/competencies
  4. Increasing knowledge sharing, transfer, and management
  5. Cultivating new talent reducing the costs/time horizon of on-boarding/assimilation
  6. Building linkages across the organization
  7. Facilitating organizational change and communication
  8. Improving employee productivity and empowerment
  9. Reinforcing cultural values and desired behaviors
  10. Preparing individuals and organizations for new roles and leadership challenges

To deliver results in a changing world, organizations are forced to explore new ways to attract, develop and retain top talent. As the demographics of the workforce change, what worked in the past will not always work in the future. The new workforce has new expectations and creates new challenges for management. The racial and ethnic make-up and number of women in the workforce will change significantly, creating a new set of diversity issues. Organic population growth is slowing and the civilian labor force is projected to grow just 12% over the period the next 10 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are only half as many skilled resources available to fill the managerial jobs openings with talented managers and executives in this timeframe. Building a managerial and leadership talent pipeline is critical to future success.

Mentoring can be used in a number of ways to help organizations develop talent now, build a pipeline of leaders for the future and create a culture that attracts and retains “A” level talent. It is the one tool that can be leveraged across a number of “leadership development” programs designed to close the internal readiness gap and prepare talent for today’s complexities. Successful programs must link a number of elements to meet today’s challenge of workforce diversity. Mentoring programs enable organizations to assess talent in a variety of settings and across a wide spectrum of positions and levels, increase operational effectiveness, grow leadership capability, monitor and evaluate the organization’s capacity for sustained performance, and address and integrate diversity plans.

Mentoring is a Key Driver in Developing High Performing Organizations

High performing organizations leverage talent development programs to maximize organizational value, build organizational DNA and link it to critical success factors, align development programs with organizational strategies, hold leaders accountable for coaching and developing young talent, and ensure business results are accomplished through values-based leadership.

According to the US Government’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles, “Mentoring is the most complex of all human activities” Developing mentoring programs that meet the organization’s objectives is almost as difficult therefore identifying and implementing customized models and administrative systems is critical.

Employing the appropriate design and support tools accelerates success and reduces the administrative burden of mentor pairing. Identifying core competencies or targets for improved performance is another critical program element. Success rate increases when outcomes and objectives are defined up front and managed throughout the process. Another key component is training for mentors and protégés. Protégé’s must understand the objective, requirements, expectations and evaluation criteria mentors need to know how to be a mentor. Programs that use experienced mentors or provide training prior to pairing, jump-start program by 2-6 months.

Benefits of Formal Mentoring Programs

Mentoring is a development strategy through which seasoned individuals share knowledge, expertise, skills, values, perspectives, attitudes and know-how with others in a one-on-one or group setting. This process enables the learner to build skills and knowledge while attaining specific organizational and career development goals. It provides an opportunity for the experienced person to enhance skills and knowledge areas as a mentor.

Mentoring helps protégés improve specific skills, network and learn about other parts of the organization, explore untapped potential, gain a better understanding of the organization’s mission, goals, policies, and practices, develop leadership abilities and improve technical skills.

Mentors benefit by sharing their expertise with others, demonstrating valuable leadership skills, expanding professional networks, building the talent pipeline, developing a fresh perspective on situations and topics, enhancing expertise, bolstering their role as a subject matter expert and promoting value to the organization.

Not only does mentoring provide unique opportunities to the participant, it also builds organizational capability. It creates an environment that fosters development and knowledge sharing, increases the visibility and value of role modeling, accelerates the process for identifying, developing and retaining talent increases employee satisfaction, leverages strategic knowledge, intellectual capital and skills across the organization, provides a means for leaders network and align resources, and facilitates employee on-boarding.

Documented Evidence to the Benefits of Mentoring

Recent cases documented in literature, studies, and a survey of mentors in US mentoring programs produced a set of findings of a number of personal, financial and organizational advantages.

  1. Mentors and protégés report that mentoring improved job satisfaction by reinforcing value to organization and profession as well as sharpened interpersonal skills
  2. Mentors report improved capabilities in planning, instructional organization, presenting subject matter, communicating, and testing.
  3. Organizations report ability to close gaps between organizational need and individual development needs
  4. Organizations report a financial return on their investment and perceive tangible and intangible results from targeted investments in key personnel and cross organization networking.

Mentoring improves retention, promotion, productivity, development.

  1. 77% of companies report mentoring programs were effective in increasing retention
  2. 35% of employees who do not receive regular mentoring look for another job within 12 months
  3. 75% of executives indicate mentoring played a key role in the careers
  4. 44% of CEOs list mentoring as one of the three most effective strategies to enhance women’s advancement to senior management
  5. CEOs state that one of the top three factors affecting career growth is mentoring
  6. Management productivity increased by 88% when mentoring was involved vs. 24% increase with training alone
  7. 71% of Fortune 500 companies use mentoring to ensure learning occurs in their organizations
  8. 95% of mentoring participants said the experience motivated them to do their very best
  9. Over 80% of college and graduate students list mentoring as a criterion for selecting an employer after graduation
  10. 78% of Fortunes top 25 companies offer mentoring programs
  11. 96% of executives say mentoring is an important development tool

In a recent survey by Robert Half Technology, more than half of the chief information officers polled said that they had benefited from mentorship. A majority of CIOs, even those who never had a mentor, believed that advancement would have been smoother and more efficient, if they had the benefit of an experienced professional on their side to help them along. Respondents, who experienced a mentoring relationship at some point in their careers, whether formal or informal, were asked to name the single greatest benefit of the relationship. In response, 37 percent said that a mentor provides insight into a particular field or industry 32 percent said that the mentor serves as a confidant or advisor, and 16 percent said the mentor provides encouragement and boosts morale. That boost in morale goes a long way toward creating a more productive, loyal workforce.

More Evidence to the Benefits of Mentoring Programs

Not only do commercial corporations take advantage of mentoring programs, but a number of government agencies also leverage mentoring programs for a variety of talent management and development purposes. The US Army not only researched, but implemented programs to help them win their war for talent and build the “Army of One.” They found that mentoring could be used to resolve a number of talent issues facing the Armed Forces and other civilian agencies: retention, leadership development, diversity and productivity. Some facts they used to support their program are listed below:

  1. Recruit Training Command (RTC) turns over 45,000 volunteers into Sailors each year and has halved attrition rates in part, through mentoring initiatives (Great Lakes Bulletin: 2003)
  2. RTC has decreased attrition to an average of 9.18% annually during the 2002 fiscal year, down from 18% peak during 1999 calendar year
  3. Service-related attrition – that which is directly related to training – has decreased from 2.13% to 0.69% in the past two years
  4. A Manchester Incorporated study of 300 companies found that 25% had formal mentoring programs in place and another 25% were planning to start programs within the next 12 months (Florida Today, 1999) Of those companies, about 50% set up those programs to promote diversity
  5. 85% of women said that at least three or more individuals influenced their personal and professional development and contributed to their success (Deloitte and Touche)
  6. 45% of women said that the mentoring process helped achieve their current position (Business Horizons
  7. 91% of female executives had a mentor at some point in their careers (Catalyst)
  8. 81% of female executives saw their mentors as being critical or fairly important in their career advancement (Catalyst)
  9. A 1999 survey by Korn/Ferry International including 280 minority executives from a variety of corporations found that minorities who are mentored become executives faster than those who are not (Houston Business Journal: 1999)
  10. More than 70% of participants who had a mentor at their current company experienced faster salary and total compensation growth than those who did not have a mentor
  11. 73% of African-American females who reported having a mentor at their company had faster salary and total compensation growth than those without one ​

Risk Assessment

Mentoring programs, while valuable to individuals and organizations, are not risk free. When implementing a mentorship program thought and consideration should be given to the key program components and to the financial, cultural, and leadership resources available to support the program.

Key Areas of Risk for Mentor Program

  1. Program Objective: Does mentoring achieve a strategic objective?
  2. Alignment: Are the Mentoring Program Goals support organizational goals?
  3. Management Support: Is the Senior Leadership Team involved and backing program?
  4. Program Design and Scope: Does the form follow the function and goal?
  5. Mentor/Protégé population: Do you have the right players? How are you selecting them?
  6. Role & Expectations: Do the Mentors and Protégés know what is expected of them?
  7. Mentor Protégé Matching Process: Does the criteria support objective? Is the process easy to use and manage? Do we have enough of the right people?
  8. Marketing and Communication: How is the program advertised, mentors solicited and results touted? Does the brand resonate with participants and articulate the goal?
  9. Program Orientation: How do mentors and protégés get connected and turned onto the program?
  10. Partnership Agreement: What commitments are required how are they managed and rewarded/punished?
  11. Individual Goals: Who is responsible for ensuring goals are set appropriately and are met in the end?
  12. One on One Partnership Meetings: What support is there to ensure successful partnerships, progress on individual goals and achievement of program objectives? Who ensures that successful mentor protégé relationship?
  13. Development Activities: What activities are provided to support development and achievement of goals outside the one-on-one or group mentor meeting? How do you leverage these to accelerate development of individuals and organization?
  14. Program Evaluation: What are the success criteria, tolerance levels, and key milestones? What happens it the program is not meeting expectations?
  15. Program Administration: Does the organization have the tools and systems in place to support and administer the program design and effectively carry out the program?
  16. Available Resources: Has the organization dedicated the appropriate time, dollars and leadership to designing, developing, deploying, administering, executing, and evaluating the program?
  17. Organization Culture and Norms: Are the program components in line with the current or desired cultural norms if not are change management strategies in place?

Once the program is defined and risks are reduced through this definition, there are organizational risks to be considered and managed throughout the process. These risks extend to employees not involved in the program and often create additional management and leadership challenges.

Organizational Risks with Mentoring

  1. Culture ripe for mentoring and executive development
  2. Reputation (formal and informal) of participants
  3. Perceived value of program to business and core mission
  4. Commitment from middle management and supervisors of participants
  5. Opportunities for “graduates” to excel after successful participation
  6. Valued reward and recognition for participation in the program
  7. Resources and systems to manage participants and administer processes
  8. Program sponsorship in an appropriate and organizationally respected function

Return on Investment (ROI)

One way to reduce risk is to calculate ROI as a component of the justification process for initiating a mentoring process and to continue to calculate ROI throughout implementation. While it may not be easy to calculate, it can be done at all three levels: protégé, mentor, and organization.

  1. What skills and knowledge do protégés gain that directly impacts productivity or improve management capacity?
  2. What is the impact of the knowledge sharing and transfer that transpires between and amongst mentors
  3. Close the workforce planning and talent gaps through retention, improved attraction and acceptance rates, reduce training and development cost incurred with turnover and remediation, and deploy a productive and competitive workforce.

Computing the return on investment requires comparing the total cost required to implement and administer the mentor program with the current level of spending associated with the ROI target. Organizations can compute an ROI for retention, training, and productivity.


TMG Mentoring Programs

Let TMG assist your organization with using mentoring as a development strategy through which seasoned individuals share knowledge, expertise, skills, values, perspectives, attitudes and know-how with others in a one-on-one or group setting. This process enables the learner to build skills and knowledge while attaining specific organizational and career development goals. It provides an opportunity for the experienced person to enhance skills and knowledge areas as a mentor.

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