Do you have questions about corporate mentoring programs? We are blogging some of our most Frequently Asked Questions. Maybe your questions will be answered here! If not, feel free to post your questions in the comments section or to contact us.
FAQ: Why do organizations need a structured mentoring program? Aren’t managers already performing this role?
While many managers demonstrate mentoring behavior on an informal basis, it is very different from having a structured mentoring program. There is a qualitative difference between a manager-employee relationship and a mentor-mentoree relationship.
- Managerial Role
The manager-employee relationship focuses on achieving the objectives of the department and the company. The manager assigns tasks, evaluates the outcome,conducts performance reviews, and recommends possible salary increases and promotions.
Because managers hold significant power over employees’ work lives, most employees demonstrate only their strengths and hide their weaknesses in the work environment.
- Mentoring Role
A mentor-mentoree relationship focuses on developing the mentoree professionally and personally. As such, the mentor does not evaluate the mentoree with respect to his or her current job, does not conduct performance reviews of the mentoree, and does not provide input about salary increases and promotions.
This creates a safe learning environment, where the mentoree feels free to discuss issues openly and honestly, without worrying about negative consequences on the job.
The roles of manager and mentor are fundamentally different. That’s why structured mentoring programs never pair mentors with their direct reports.
FAQ: Does mentoring happen naturally?
Absolutely. Informal mentoring occurs all the time and is a powerful experience. The problem is that informal mentoring is often accessible only to a few employees and its benefits are limited only to those few who participate. Formal or structured mentoring takes mentoring to the next level and expands its usefulness and corporate value beyond that of a single mentor-mentoree pairing.
FAQ: Why shouldn’t we create a program ourselves?
Reich | Dreamstime.com
Creating a structured mentoring program requires a solid understanding of mentoring dynamics. There are myriad examples of mentoring programs that failed because organizations mistakenly believed they fully understood mentoring. Rather than create a successful program, they negatively impacted the careers of both mentors and mentorees. Typically, such programs have put people together without clear guidelines, offered no training about mentoring relationships, lacked internal support, paired employees with the bosses of the employees’ immediate supervisors, and violated other fundamentals of mentoring. The amount of outside expertise needed to establish a mentoring program varies from organization to organization. Most organizations have found that using a consultant to set up a pilot program has made the difference between success and failure.