A Teams call in the afternoon. When Isabelle joins the call, Fiona, who works from home, smiles into the camera. She has great news: she completed her Scrum Master certification with distinction. It was through the initiative of Isabelle that Fiona did a Scrum Master course in the first place. Isabelle is Fiona’s mentor. She works in a thriving software company as head of e-commerce. The two have been a mentoring pair for almost a year. Isabelle supports Fiona in her development, guides her when she has to make decisions, and answers questions. But Isabelle also benefits from the mentoring relationship: inspired by Fiona’s fresh perspective on things, she has already adjusted some of her processes for the good of her department. Moreover, Isabelle can well imagine Fiona succeeding a colleague from management whose promotion is coming up soon.
Many of the mentoring processes I have supported so far take place in this way or in a similar way. The case of Fiona and Isabelle demonstrates what a successful exchange between mentor and mentee might look like. I hear many success stories from my clients after we established mentoring as part of talent management in their companies. This is no wonder, because mentoring really is an invaluable development tool. It enables different generations to engage in fruitful dialogue, guarantees knowledge transfer across immediate company hierarchies, and brings exchange of experience to a new, direct and – at best – partnership level. The mentee learns from the mentor and vice versa. New knowledge and a fresh perspective on processes and structures can be very valuable also for executives.
Knowledge, corporate culture, and motivation for the leaders of tomorrow
Research shows that mentoring has a positive impact on corporate culture and lays the foundation for a new level of leadership that is deeply involved in content issues. This makes mentoring an important element in talent and leadership development. It furthers strategic thinking and assists the development of a shared mindset besides paving the way for extraordinary personal relationships. In this way, young talent can be motivated remarkably well, supported in their development, and tied to the company. Top management gets to know the leaders of tomorrow and is strongly involved in their development. Mentoring also promotes a commitment to diversity within the company.
If mentoring is successful, it can develop into a true learning partnership that offers future leaders deep insights into the organisation of the company, promotes personal development, and teaches new skills. It gives mentees the freedom to develop their own solutions under the guidance of professionals and experts. This creates an extraordinary level of trust, which ensures honest and open feedback. Mentoring also furthers the development of a wide and more international network within the company.
How can mentoring be successfully established in a company?
The first step is to bring together promising mentoring pairs in cooperation with the HR department. Ideally, the make-up of the pairs cuts across departments, countries, and functions. Once the pairs have been put together, the mentor is informed about the mentee’s needs and their level of development. At the beginning, both jointly determine the goals, rules and circumstances of their individual processes. For all other meetings, the mentee should ideally take the initiative and assume responsibility. These meetings take place regularly for a maximum period of twelve months – either face to face or as a video call. The HR department accompanies the process in close cooperation with both partners. If successful, the programme is an enriching and rewarding way for both sides to gain new insights – in the company and at a personal level.
Might mentoring be an interesting approach for your company? In this case, you are invited to read the next part of my blog series about this topic: here, I will take a closer look at the role models of the mentoring process and their relationship. You don’t want to wait? Let’s consider together how we can develop a suitable mentoring concept for your company.