Why Every Organization Needs a Mentoring Program

March 2, 2016


Having a mentor can play a big role in your career success, and mentoring benefits your company as well. Yet, very few workers take advantage of mentorship opportunities, according to a recent Accountemps survey of more than 2,200 chief financial officers (CFOs) and 1,000 workers. While the majority of CFOs say a mentor is important for career development, only a small percentage of workers — and far fewer females than males — have one.

When CFOs were asked if they thought it was important to have a mentoring relationship:

  • 44% thought it was somewhat important
  • 42% thought it was very important
  • 8% thought it was not too important
  • 5% thought it was not at all important

However, only 26% of workers who responded to the survey are engaged in a mentoring relationship. The percentages are much lower for female employees and workers over the age of 35. Following is a breakdown by gender and age of employees with mentors:

  • 33% of men
  • 18% of women
  • 41% of workers between the ages of 18-34
  • 17% of workers between the ages of 35-54
  • 15% of workers age 55 and older

Some individuals might feel intimidated asking a superior to serve as a mentor, or they might feel a mentoring relationship would take up too much of their time. But employees without mentors can miss out on a variety of benefits. According to the CFOs in the survey, some of the advantages include the following:

  • Learning firsthand from someone in a role you aspire to (48%)
  • Learning the unwritten rules of the company or industry (20%)
  • Having a neutral sounding board for your ideas (11%)
  • Getting help navigating office politics (9%)
  • Getting introductions to new contacts (8%)

These same benefits also accrue to the company. Employees who are better able to perform their jobs and interact with colleagues are a plus for any organization. But how do you set up an effective mentoring program that is inclusive of all employees? Below are five tips to steer you in the right direction:

  1. Choose the right mentors. Select individuals who are well respected and liked, with the personality traits needed to mentor others. In general, it’s best if a mentor is not the mentee’s direct supervisor but acceptable if the mentors and protégés are in the same department. Mentees should feel comfortable asking questions of, discussing challenges with, and soliciting advice from a neutral party who has no control over their career advancement. The mentor does not necessarily have to be in the same organization.
  2. Make sure everyone is prepared. Whether you determine the goals of the mentoring or allow the involved parties to decide, make sure everyone knows and is in agreement with the expected outcome.
  3. Stay abreast of mentoring progress. Check in periodically to ensure that the process is proceeding as planned. Allow both parties to agree upon the frequency of the mentoring sessions, but make sure that they are both adhering to the meeting schedule.
  4. Show appreciation. Let both parties know that you appreciate the time, effort, and energy they are expending in the mentoring process.
  5. Evaluate the mentoring. If you check in at the outset to make sure the mentoring relationship is on track, you’ll be able to intervene early if there are any problems. Sometimes, the parties in a mentoring relationship just don’t click. Don’t force them to continue if the process is not working.

Engaging in a mentoring relationship helps employees grow and develop, creating a win-win for both staff and company. With proper planning and execution, you can create an inclusive mentorship program that contributes to the success of the organization.

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About The Author

Bill Driscoll is the New England district president of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, and is based in the company’s Boston office. Bill oversees professional staffing services for Robert Half’s 23 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and portions of New York. He is considered a local and national expert on recruiting practices, hiring and job search trends, and other workplace issues.

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