Developing a Mentoring Culture – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 we explored the setting up and embedding of a mentoring culture within an organisation and some of the things to consider.

Probably the most  important consideration is the investment the organisation needs to make if mentoring is to become a successful and sustainable part of its strategic development.

There is a cost to mentoring which must be taken into account and which is likely to have an impact on the approach that is taken. Costs – either ‘actual’ or ‘hidden’ – include investment in developing systems and processes; training; delivering, managing and assessing the impact of the mentoring programme. When any major cost is incurred in an organisation it will seek to justify that expenditure, by looking at the return on investment: in the case for mentoring, cost-benefit analysis and/or a pilot could demonstrate the clear benefits of mentoring compared to other L&D interventions.

Internal vs External Mentors

Mentoring can be provided by internal or external resources – or a mix of both. External mentoring resources will come at an actual cost which needs to be budgeted, and the use of internal mentors will be a ‘hidden cost’ in terms of time and other resources.

There are pros and cons to using internal vs external mentors and it comes down to what feels right for each organisation, often based on the number and diversity of employees’ knowledge, skills and experience aligned to the amount of time, effort and money it is able to provide to support delivery.

Internal mentors

Advantages

  • Lower cost – the internal mentor is already being paid by the organisation
  • Internal mentors have an inherent understanding of the organisation and its culture

Disadvantages

  • Mentors may be encumbered by the organisational culture and structure
  • Systems and processes to be set up, mentors identified, trained and monitored
  • Mentors need to be allowed time for mentoring duties

External mentors

Advantages

  • Provide an independent external sounding board, unencumbered by internal politics and company culture
  • Potentially broader specialist knowledge and experience not available internally
  • Professional mentors are specialists in their field, trained and qualified
  • Requires little internal management resource

Disadvantages

  • Budget and the need to demonstrate ROI
  • Sourcing and matching mentors to mentees

Controlling the quality of mentoring

When introducing a mentoring culture, an effective monitoring process should be included such as self-reflection on behalf of the mentee, views on progress against their goals, 360 feedback at beginning and end of the programme, staff surveys, external evaluation.

Documented processes will be needed to support delivery, including agreement of the mentoring contract; how, when and where it will take place; a clear explanation and understanding of what mentoring is and what it can offer to the mentee (and explained to any stakeholders); records of the sessions and agreement of any actions as well as recording the outcomes against objectives. Support processes provide and enforce a common approach, which in turn safeguards the quality and professionalism of the intervention.

Once everything is in place, attention should be paid to the introduction and launch of the mentoring programme to enable a smooth rollout with full acceptance and understanding.

Set up properly with due care and attention, together with clear buy-in and support from the top down and a robust means of evaluation, mentoring can be established as a worthwhile L&D investment for the benefit of the whole organisation.

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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