Many leaders consider themselves fortunate to have had a strong mentor in their careers. A mentorship program is a multi-pronged tool used by talent managers and HR leaders across various industries to not only for the individual success of their employees but also to fulfill the business asks.
Organizations use mentoring to achieve a myriad of goals--from retaining and promoting women to leadership roles to honing the capabilities of high potential employees, building a seamless succession pipeline and even enhancing employee engagement.
On a recent episode of PeopleMatters TV, Ann Ann Low, Director, Learning & Development, APAC, LinkedIn, Tanie Eio, Vice President Human Resources, APAC, UPS, and Duncan Hewett, Senior VP & GM, VMware APAC; shared their experiences and perspectives on the best ways to create and implement a holistic mentorship program.
“Mentoring is a safe environment where an individual is able to share freely and there is no bearing to one’s performance,” said Eio.
Even though the definition of mentorship is not black and white, the steps to setting up a comprehensive mentorship program are common for most organizations.
Identify your business objective
Knowing the reason why your business needs a mentorship program is the first step towards creating a meaningful strategy. Once both the mentors and the mentees know the end-goal and their stake in it, their motivation will help in driving the mentoring. Moreover, it will be a results-oriented effort.
At LinkedIn, there are a few different business objectives that the talent leaders want to achieve through mentorship. A primary objective is to ensure that employees are able to establish a connection with the organization. Another goal is to encourage diversity among the employees and generate a culture of inclusion. Mentorship is a tool used by the company to expand its learning and development initiatives as well, Low added.
For a logistics company such as UPS, Eio said, the major challenge is to retain and promote women employees into leadership roles. That’s the precise reason why UPS uses mentoring as a way to secure the employees’ interest in the organization and create an environment wherein women employees would want to stay and continue to work.
At VMware, a software solutions’ firm, the end goal is to create a workforce that is skilled to keep up with the speed of change associated with technology. The goal is to facilitate learning and building a larger network within the company that encourages learning and development through peer-to-peer interactions, Hewett said.
“For us, in a fast moving industry, mentoring is critical,” Hewett added. “It actually allows the connection of more senior individuals to more junior employees throughout the organization.”
Identify your target audience of mentees
Understanding the business ask is definitely the first priority. However, in order to implement a successful mentorship program the needs and demands of the mentees should also be taken into consideration.
For example, when VMware found that they faced a gap in their succession planning because women were dropping out of the workforce after a certain stage, the talent leaders realized that a sustainable mentorship program was essential in order to bridge those gaps, said Hewett. They felt the need to introduce flexible working options so that women employees could take time for their families and children while progressing on the career advancement path.
In a technological field, mentorship is crucial since learning new softwares and languages is core to the organization’s development and the employability quotient of the workers.
Know the metrics to measure your success
Measuring the success of a mentorship program is crucial. Whether the mentorship program in your organization successfully achieves the objectives set out by the business leaders can be a clear way to know if the initiative has been a success. For example, if the aim is to retain and promote women in the workforce and encourage them to fulfill senior leadership roles, talent leaders can map the percentage of the women in the workforce over a period of time.
“Making sure that there is an alignment between the mentor and the mentee is essential. An ideal situation is where there is a balance and information sharing from both parties,” said Hewett.
Making mentorship efficient by leveraging technology
With the increasing penetration of social media networks into the professional workplace, it is now viewed as a means to an end as well. Eio, Low and Hewett have themselves conducted cross-country mentorship programs via Skype or video chat meetings.
A right mentor-mentee match can be a rewarding experience both for the mentor and the mentee. Leveraging technology provides the opportunity to tap into a global pool of talent especially for international organizations such as UPS and LinkedIn. Regular monitoring and measurement of progress can go a long way in ensuring that the mentorship program is efficient and beneficial for all.
PeopleMatters TV is a weekly web series that brings global leaders together on a platform to discuss how the HR function and its different verticals are transforming to adapt to the new needs of business & leveraging the power of technology. To register for the upcoming sessions, register here.