Mentoring is a strategic tool that, when done right, can attract and retain high-potential talent and accelerate leadership development and readiness. Mentoring is also an effective tool for shaping organizational culture and closing engagement and generational gaps. It has often been said that the most important work of a leader is the development of other leaders. Employers are increasingly recognizing the benefits of mentoring in leadership development. According to a Corporate Executive Board survey, 25 percent of U.S. companies now host peer-mentoring programs, a significant increase from before the 2007 recession, when only 4 to 5 percent of U.S. companies reported sponsoring mentorship programs (Rouen, 2012). Unfortunately, as many HR and talent managers can attest, it can be quite challenging to develop and maintain successful mentoring programs.
Mentoring improves employee satisfaction, retention, and recruitment in an organization (Kessler, 2010). It can also improve an organization’s diversity by improving promotion rates for people from under-represented groups like women, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians (DiversityInc, 2014). Mentoring can even be used as a branding tool to attract talent, particularly high-quality college recruits. Employers who mentor new hires find that they acclimate more quickly to the organization’s culture and work processes which translates to faster ramp up time and return on recruiting investment. This mentoring during the onboarding process can also lower turnover and help identify high-potential employees early on (Vaccaro, 2013). There is another, perhaps more compelling, reason why mentoring is being embraced by more organizations; the Millennial generation, the most populous force in the workplace, craves it.
A 2012 study, “No Collar Workers,” found that three-quarters of Millennials want a mentor. Eighty percent of Millennials responding to the survey said they wanted regular feedback from their boss, and 89 percent said they thought it was important to constantly learn at their job. Two-thirds of Millennial respondents also said they thought they should mentor more experienced workers on technology (Emelo, 2013). This generation is demanding mentoring, and employers are listening.
Mentoring may also be on an upswing because it is an effective and inexpensive way to prepare future business leaders. In an article for Fortune magazine, Brian Kropp, managing director for the Corporate Executive Board, noted that during the recession, mid-level management at large corporations was decimated. Today, mid-level managers have 50 percent more direct reports and 20 percent less time to spend with them. They also have far less time for professional development. Peer mentoring can help in skill development and in improved engagement for this group (Rouen, 2012).
To learn more about the topic of mentoring, download a free copy of UNC Executive Development's white paper titled, How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program.
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