4 Ways to Advance the Mentoring Mind-Set

Yesterday’s Leadership Daily Advisor explored modern mentoring—including some of the new and improved leadership methods that are making the trend a successful part of everyday corporate life for mentors and mentees alike. Today we outline four ways to help assess and advance mentoring advocacy at your firm.

Developing Your Mentoring Brand

Evaluating a mentoring program requires honest measures of the overall program and individual mentoring relationships, advise experts, researchers, and HR leaders. Here’s a sampling of their guidance:

Clarify and specify goals. Is the purpose clearly understood? Is the focus, for example, on learning and skills development, or succession planning and retention, or knowledge transfer?

The key goals must be defined up front as a basis for designing, structuring, and carrying out a program, says Terri A. Scandura, PhD, professor of management at the University of Miami.

Train, teach, encourage, and promote. Employees have varied ideas about mentoring—and how it’s done. So, it’s important for everyone to have a common understanding of expectations and results—with an extra dose of insight for mentors. Be especially certain that the mentors fully understand their roles. The dynamics of the relationship are stronger when mentors truly feel responsibility and advocacy for the mentees.

Breathe new life into resources. Are you providing adequate support and resources to feed the program’s ongoing interest? As part of its revitalized initiative, for example, IBM Corporation created streamlined and easy-to-access mentoring resources, such as mentoring podcasts, success stories, mentoring guides, and mentoring best practices that focus on the mentor/mentee relationship and how to make it work. The company built an online “Dear Mentor” chat area, where employees can electronically ask questions of a team of mentoring experts, according to Audrey J. Murrell, PhD, associate professor of business administration, psychology, and public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Business.

Leave the boss/subordinate definition behind. “The days of one mentor for all reasons have passed,” says Scandura. “Mentoring isn’t really about cloning—it’s about developing your own personal brand of leadership. That’s why multiple mentors for various goals and guidance—a network of people—is clearly the growing trend.”