Monday January 19, 2015
Although it dates back to Homer’s Odyssey, mentoring is the trend of the moment amongst HR, leaders and specifically those of the Y and ‘I’ generations. There are many definitions but in the spirit of ‘keeping it simple’ we like our CEO Jane’s in the bestselling It’s Never Ok to Kiss the Interviewer, described as where ‘one person with more experience, knowledge or specialist expertise guides another’.
Many of the great and good from the world of entertainment have been mentored. These famous mentor/mentee pairings include Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, and Jay Z and Rihanna.
And it isn’t just the celebrities who are at it. According to Forbes the people who are most successful in business have a mentor. A prime example are the two richest men in America, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. They met in 1991 and since then Buffet has been ‘invaluable’ to Gate’s career due to his ability to ‘ask good questions, tell clever stories’ and think about business in a ‘clear way’.
Some of the main benefits of an organisation implementing a mentoring scheme include:
- Sharing and passing on skills, knowledge and wisdom
- Low cost way to develop people
- Inspiring for new members of the team
- Once set up requires little input
- Provides mentors with alternative perspectives and hones leadership skills
I took part in the Oxford Brookes Bacchus Mentoring Programme when I was a final-year student and it was a life changing experience. At the time I was an A grade student but had not heard back from many of the jobs I had applied for and had had five unsuccessful interviews. I was at my wits end, and so I turned to my mentor, Jane Sunley, for advice. She was so inspiring; making me believe in myself and helping me to make small changes to make myself look and feel the part. I was so encouraged I ended up applying for a job at Purple Cubed and have now been here five years.
Before implementing a mentoring scheme consider these tips:
- Do a lot of research to find the right type of scheme. Traditional one-on-one mentoring isn’t possible in all companies so other options could be group mentoring or peer-to-peer mentoring
- Holding focus groups will find out what employees want to get out of it. It is also worth investigating some existing successful schemes such as the Oxford Brookes Bacchus Mentoring Programme and Women 1st
- Mentors and mentees need to be compatibly matched. Software such as the Talent Toolbox: Mentoring module could help with this
- Ensure there is a clear structure in place including ground rules with boundaries so everyone knows what their roles are
- Agree how to measure success before the scheme starts so the C-suite can see the benefits to top line figures
Interested in how mentoring could work inside your organisation? Speak to firstname.lastname@example.org.