What is Mentoring Today, and How is it Being Used Strategically within An Organization?

May 12, 2011
Mentoring, in one form or another, has been around for ages and much talk has been generated about mentoring in the workplace as a way to develop talent. If you are considering a corporate mentoring program or have been charged with the task of investigating mentoring, then clarifying some basic concepts and seeing what’s new in the industry can be helpful.

So what does mentoring look like today? What are some of the trends in mentoring in today’s workforce and how can they shape your vision of a mentoring program at your company? Here, we’ll share information that will hopefully get you jump-started on your journey.

What does Mentoring look like today?

For many organizations, mentoring has evolved into a more formal process. “Formal mentoring” programs can consist of several structured components, including training for participants and the selection/training of a program manager. It tends to be tied to critical business objectives with specific goals and success metrics that can be reported on and measured. Mentor and mentee matches are not just made by similarity or attraction, but on developmental goals of the mentees. And mentoring partnerships can have defined timelines especially when mentoring it used to address a specific skills gap or in the onboarding process. In addition, mentoring has evolved into less of a hierarchical relationship and more of an equal partnership where both mentor and mentee benefit and learn from the partnership.
New ways to mentor have evolved:
  • Reverse mentoring is a senior employee being mentored by a more junior employee typically to fill a specific skill gap. Inevitably the junior employee benefits from the partnership based just on the exposure to the senior employee and the opportunity to approach the senior employee with questions and/or advice.
  • Team mentoring happens when whole teams experience mentoring from a senior manager. It could be to assist them with specific project based work or skill based assignments that pertain to their job requirements.
  • Group mentoring can pertain to groups either from one company within different departments or employees from the same department.
  • Distance mentoring can pertain to individuals matched in different locations but that have background that pertain the mentees development needs. They may communicate by either instant messaging, email or phone depending on what is most convenient or appropriate for the individuals in the partnership.
What companies are finding is that mentoring is a cost-effective employee development tool compared to traditional training programs.

What Objectives Can Mentoring Accomplish?

Mentoring is used satisfy a variety of business objectives today:
  • Promoting effective on-boarding – helping new employee adjust to new corporate culture.
  • Enhance diversity initiatives
  • Improve employee engagement and retention
  • Career development
  • Targeted skill and leadership development tool
  • Address a critical skills gap
  • Create a true “Learning Organization”

Added Value of Technology

The use of online mentoring software, such as those offered by Insala, provides companies with many advantages and cost-savings by automating the administrative process and offering independent accessibility to supporting resources, applications and assessment tools online. An online mentoring software solution automates the matching and pairing process, integrates training and support content and conducts real-time tracking and reporting of a mentoring program’s success.

While mentoring may take different forms, as an organization you can decide what will satisfy your company’s specific business objectives, and implement with the assistance of a mentoring software solutions provider if the need is determined.

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