Developing a mentoring culture – part 1 of 2

A mentoring culture should be an integral part of a company’s learning and development strategy, ideally offering mentoring to all employees in a supportive and non-judgemental, open environment that values individuals and recognises their importance to the business.

Who can benefit from mentoring? 

The strategic purpose of mentoring in an organisation is to transfer the skills and knowledge of more experienced and senior individuals to those with less experience.

It can help to:

  • Develop individuals or teams in specific areas
  • Support individuals stepping into a new role
  • Nurture talent
  • Prepare individuals to step up into a bigger role
  • Help individuals and teams through challenging situations

It is worth noting that mentoring is successfully delivered through virtual sessions, enabling it to be offered throughout an organisation irrespective of location.

Mentoring through change

Mentoring is particularly useful in periods of change, which are common in most organisations as they strive to become more efficient and successful in what they do in an increasingly global market, or at times of major change such as those imposed by the impact of external factors such as Brexit or significant events like the global pandemic.

Mentoring can greatly assist by identifying areas for development in individuals or teams to maximise performance in the ‘new world’ brought about by the change. It can also help by providing the support needed to enable employees to cope with the change itself and the upheaval and challenge it brings both personally and professionally, which in turn will assist in accelerating adaptation to the changed circumstances.

However, it can only succeed if the organisation is open and supportive and provides the resources needed such as time, money, education, processes and frameworks.

Things to consider

Organisational context

For mentoring to succeed it should be seen as a positive and constructive tool that can help maximise the performance of individuals, teams and the organisation as a whole, rather than as a remedial tool to improve under-performance.

Mentoring should align with and support the organisation’s strategic direction by linking delivery of individual goals and objectives to the strategy and using mentoring to support their achievement. It can have far greater impact when embedded into the organisation – rather than being seen as an ad-hoc tactical intervention – by developing the skills, knowledge, performance and behaviours that best support delivery of the organisation’s objectives.

Strategic Framework

If an organisation plans the introduction of mentoring and the embedding of a mentoring culture in the same way as any other key business initiative, it will need a framework to support it.

The framework should be used to determine such things as the purpose of mentoring within the organisation; how it links to the delivery of the overall business strategy and objectives; sponsor or sponsors (i.e. CEO/the Board); who mentoring is available to (preferably all employees); how it will be implemented i.e. face-to-face or virtually; attention to mentor/mentee matching; supporting processes and procedures; budget allocation; metrics and reviews to determine effectiveness and ROI.

Without such a structure, it could easily become a temporary ‘solution’ that fails to embed within the organisation’s culture.

Developing a mentoring culture requires an ongoing commitment, which should be recognised and accepted by the organisation at the outset, signalling its importance and providing the necessary resources to enable it to succeed.

Nicki Holmes is a fully qualified and accredited executive mentor and coach, supporting individuals and their teams in becoming the best they can be. She is passionate in her belief of the value of mentoring and the very positive outcomes it can achieve, and is keen to support organisations in setting up and embedding a mentoring culture www.h-m-l.co.uk      www.linkedin.com/in/nickiholmesuk   

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