A national real estate investment trust based in Santa Monica, California, Macerich (NYSE:MAC) is one of the largest owners of regional and community shopping centers in the US. With 2,500 employees across 71 regional shopping centers and 75 corporate offices, Macerich needed an initiative that would enable the sharing of diverse knowledge and experiences among its widely dispersed employees. Lain Adams, Associate Vice President of Learning and Development at Macerich, was charged with implementing a mentoring program that would facilitate professional development through distance learning and knowledge sharing.
After evaluating a range of mentoring service providers, Adams chose Insala for its combination of mentoring expertise and experience, and its competitive
edge in the talent management technology space. While most other vendors could only provide software that supported mentoring programs, Insala offered a comprehensive mentoring solution that included quality training, implementation and consulting services, as well as technology tools, enabling Adams to implement the hi-tech, hi-touch initiative that was envisioned for employees at Macerich.
The two-phased mentoring initiative began in 2008. The initial 9-month pilot program was conducted with the help of Insala’s Hi-Impact Mentoring® process – a holistic set of consulting, training, and implementation services. 22 mentor-mentee pairs in various roles in the organization were matched by hand, with professional development through the sharing of diverse experiences as the primary goal of each partnership.
In rolling out the first phase, “Macerich did it right”, says Judy Corner, Director of Consulting Services at Insala, who advised and led the mentoring program
implementation process at Macerich. “They understood the value of having qualified mentors and committed mentees. They made sure that training took place so that all mentors, mentees, and managers/supervisors understood their role in the program. Most importantly, Lain recognized how crucial it was to monitor the partnerships and provide assistance to program participants when they needed it most. The synergy of these elements led to a successful first phase initiative, which has led to the ongoing success of the program.”
-THE TECHNOLOGY: SUPPORTING THE PROCESS
In March 2010, Adams and his team began implementing the second phase of its mentoring program incorporating Insala’s online software – linking Insala’s mentoring system with its own enterprise portal. This second phase combined the objectives of knowledge sharing and distance / remote mentoring – enabled by the easy-to-use, interactive software. In April, Adams communicated the program to employees and built its applicant pool. During the first half of May, he began the matching and pairing process, aiming to finalize the matches and introduce the mentor-mentee partners by early June. “We’ve hit all our program milestones so far,” says Adams, who is especially impressed with the effciency gains brought by Insala’s technology. “For our firrst pilot program, I matched 44 individuals (22 pairs) manually, with the help of an excel spreadsheet. Now with mentoring software, I can now match 84 individuals while saving myself two whole business days’ worth of time.”
-A RETURN ON INVESTMENT WITH POSITIVE EXTERNALITIES
According to one mentee involved in the initial pilot program, the value of the knowledge and experience she gained from the mentoring program was equally as valuable to her as the offcial employee benefits she received at Macerich. An experienced mentor remarked that the enthusiasm of his younger mentee was contagious, and that working with the mentee has inspired him to consider ways to do his own job better.
In addition, benefits from the mentoring program have spilled over to other areas of talent strategy at Macerich. “By observing interactions between mentors and mentees and getting participant feedback, we are learning how people respond to professional influences, and using that information to further fine-tune other aspects of our talent development strategy”, says Adams. “For example, feedback from new managers within our mentoring program has inspired us to provide valuable coaching workshops to our middle management team nationwide.”
“I am very excited for the future of Macerich,” says Adams. “As our mentoring program grows, we can help more and more employees improve their engagement and performance. In the meantime, we also further distinguish ourselves as an “Employer of Choice” and are consistently able to attract the best talent.” It’s truly a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
“With Insala’s software, we can really enhance the distance mentoring experience for our participants,” he adds. “The mentoring learning plan, content and
resource library, goal-setting tools, and psychometric assessments will be particularly valuable aids to our mentors and mentees during the time to come.”