Corporate Mentoring Programs in Action

Creating a Successful Mentoring Program for the Largest Car Rental Company in North America

Challenge: Improving Program Quality, Increasing Employee Satisfaction
Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of the well-known Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, and National Car Rental brands, owns and operates the largest fleet of passenger vehicles in the world today - more than 1 million cars and trucks. It employs 90,000 people, and Forbes ranks it #21 in the Top 500 Private Companies in America.

Enterprise prides itself on promoting from within, so it's no surprise that the company embraced corporate mentoring early on since studies show corporate mentoring helps attract, develop, and retain top talent. But in 2002, the corporation faced a crossroads in regards to its mentoring program.

Chris Tabourne, Assistant Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, says, "In 2002, our Employee Opinion Survey revealed that too many of our employees weren't satisfied with the quality of mentoring they were getting."

While Enterprise's continued research and employee feedback clearly pointed toward a need to increase the effectiveness of its informal and formal mentoring programs across many, if not all groups and regions, the question became how to accomplish this.

Solution: Fostering "True" Mentoring, Designing a Goal-Oriented Program, Getting the Most Out of Technology
Enterprise brought in several corporate mentoring vendors to discuss program design and implementation. Management Mentors eventually won the business.

"We selected Management Mentors because they did a nice job of identifying the opportunities that existed in our mentoring programs at the time, and then providing a fresh approach to improving their effectiveness. Management Mentors shifted our paradigm towards true mentoring by helping us to understand the difference between coaching, which is how most of our programs had always been run, and mentoring, which is what we really needed," Tabourne says.

Enterprise identified four key goals it wanted its mentoring program to achieve:

  1. Provide leadership development
  2. Increase the diversity of management
  3. Help improve retention
  4. Increase employee satisfaction in the area of mentoring.

Management Mentors President Rene Petrin worked with Enterprise in designing and implementing a program that would meet these objectives. Petrin says, "Working with a design team, we were able to transition into a true mentoring model and link mentoring to the four strategic goals while avoiding making the program a performance-based initiative, which had caused the previous programs to be unsuccessful."

The initial pilot program involved two groups with a total of six programs and 68 pairs. After Enterprise completed the 12 months of the pilot program, it started an annual roll out in North America that ran for the next three years and averaged about 14 groups per year. Tabourne notes, "To date, we've had 44 local groups or about 2700 employees that have participated in the program over the last five years."

As the company's corporate mentoring program grew, so did the opportunities in integrating technology to help streamline the program managers' work. Petrin says, "Multiple benefits exist for using an online mentoring system. First, it provides ease of management because everything from forms, reports, and so forth are all in one central place. It can be accessed 24/7. And it's a perfect solution for organizations that have multiple branches or locations."

Tabourne remarks, "As we looked at and evaluated the time and effort it takes to manage a mentoring program of our size, the online option made sense. Having MentoringComplete manage the program has made a huge difference in the program's effectiveness. As the person responsible for overseeing a companywide program, having all pairs' information at my fingertips via my computer saves me time and effort in following the progress and success of the program. The time our program managers spend managing the program has been reduced significantly since we added the online system, too."

Results: Mentoring Success, Happier Employees, Fulfilled Mentors
In Enterprise's current 12-month rolling report, it has 450 pairs at an over 89 percent pairs' retention percentage. Its mentee retention percentage is over 92 percent, including over 94 percent for both women and minorities. In addition, the overall promotion percentage for mentees participating in the program has continued to exceed expectations.

As for the "buzz" from employees?

Tabourne says, "Both the feedback from the mentees and mentors continues to be terrific. The feedback on how much the program has benefitted our mentors has been a nice surprise. We weren't expecting the great feedback from the mentors on the impact of the program on their own development. In fact, we occasionally get mentors who say they may have benefited more from the program than their mentees. Also, the high retention rate of our mentee's exceeds our initial expectations."

Petrin adds, "It's always satisfying for me when a client has embraced a true mentoring model and begins to create a mentoring culture. The fact that Enterprise's mentors and mentees have commented they're significantly changed through mentoring supports the research that indicates corporate mentoring, when done properly, is truly transformational and makes a difference to the bottom line."

In addition, the program has helped position Enterprise to compete more effectively for top talent. Tabourne remarks, "Our formal mentor program is a great attribute to our company's recognition of the needs of our many Gen Y employees we hire. We recognize that today's generation places a high value on training and personal career development. They prefer daily contact with managers to ask questions and ensure they are meeting required expectations or goals. Having a mentor that they can speak with regularly about personal and professional goals is a good way for employees to enhance their access to career guidance. Because we promote from within our organization, our mentors all have been (professionally) where their mentees have been, so they are uniquely qualified to provide helpful advice, guidance, and tips."

Would you like to have Management Mentors evaluate your current mentoring program? Contact us today and let's talk about how we can help improve corporate mentoring for your organization.

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