Mentoring as a Talent Development Strategy

December 16, 2015

Talent development has traditionally been met using training and coaching solutions that can be effective but also expensive per capita.  Although not mutually exclusive, mentoring as part of a talent development strategy has a forward-looking, growth-oriented vantage point.  Mentoring encompasses coaching, sharing viewpoints, and transferring knowledge and wisdom to mentee(s). It can therefore be comprehensive, culturally aligned, and less expensive if planned and administered effectually.

In a recent Forbes article entitled 5 Keys for Developing Talent in your Organization it was stated that “ten years after publishing its research on the War for Talent, McKinsey produced follow-on work reemphasizing the need to make talent a strategic priority. Despite launching expensive programs to attract and retain talented employees, many senior executives remain frustrated with the results and admit their own failure to pay close enough attention to these issues. Leaders are responsible for developing the talent in their organizations. While many acknowledge its importance, few deliver the coaching and training at scale to develop their people.”

Mentoring for talent development

Organizations globally are finding that a mentoring program is an effective and cost efficient part of an overall talent development strategy.  Mentoring is moving from informal to more formal. Organizations using mentoring strategically for talent development are using targeted mentoring that effectively matches mentors and mentees with specific goals, and then ties these initiatives back to specific talent development objectives.

A common use of mentoring is for developing leaders and strengthening the succession pipeline. However, mentoring programs also contribute to successful onboarding, retention, engagement, specific skill development, career growth and development. Mentoring can have overarching effects on many levels of talent development.

How to plan and design a mentoring program for talent development

Mentoring as a strategy for Talent development will require that efforts go directly toward the following:

Establish specific goals and objectives.   Establish specific developmental objectives for the mentoring program.  Once the organizations’ goals are outlined, i.e., leadership development, skill development, succession planning your implementation plans for how to get there will be based upon those objectives.

Align Matching Criteria.  Utilize matching criteria aligned with specific talent development objectives. Determine how mentors and mentees will be matched based on the available mentors’ skills and abilities  matched against the areas of development needed by mentees.

Communicate and Train. Communicate to all employees the “what” and the “why” of mentoring. Work with internal teams to spread the word about what mentoring means and the benefits for both mentee and mentor. Communicate continually about different aspects of mentoring, even after the program starts, to keep mentoring awareness high.

Make sure that the goals of the program are clear, and that mentoring participants understand the basic principles and logistics of mentoring. HR professionals or business managers responsible for the mentoring program should suggest guidelines for meetings and invite an experienced mentor and mentee to talk about their experiences and recommended best practices.

Use supporting mentoring technology. Use a mentoring software solution that matches mentors and mentees; manage partnerships, tracks and reports on original objectives and delivers mentoring content and resources for partnerships whether they are in the same building or on a different continent.

For more information about how to design and implement mentoring solutions aligned with your talent development goals visit Insala’s solutions center for Mentoring.

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Guide to starting a mentoring program, Part 1: building the business case

How to start a mentoring program without software

The role of mentoring and alumni relations in a career progression plan

Benefits of corporate mentoring programs for onboarding: case study

How employee motivation and retention has changed in 7 years

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