Mentoring is effective in improving engagement - we are just not having enough of it
Virkware | Unlock Talent
Important organizational processes remain mysterious to young employees. Many of them do not understand:
how promotion decisions are made
how compensation increases are determined
how hiring decisions are made
As employees progress through their careers, their own experience as well as the experience of their peers shapes their expectations. And when employees think they are not able address their expectations, they become frustrated. Additionally, this lack of understanding confuses them on the actions to take, makes them feel helpless and even more frustrated. Often, though not always, their response is to leave the organization.
This is a well known topic and many organizations take measures to try and address it. However, the state of many large and market leading organizations indicates current measures are not effective.
One aspect that is effective at addressing this frustration and disengagement is mentoring.
When employees work with mentors, one or more of the following takes place:
Employees can better understand how organizational processes related to compensation decisions and promotions work especially if the mentor has had hands-on experience in these areas. This helps them re-align their expectations if needed or prepare better to address their expectations
Employees are able to discuss their career aspirations and / or any challenges related to their team members or manager with someone outside of their team enabling a more objective and open discussion. They can also get guidance on leveraging internal mobility options and increase their internal network within the firm
There are other benefits but the key result for many employees is reduced frustration and / or improved engagement
So a big question is whether there are enough mentoring conversations happening within your organization. In many organizations the answer is unfortunately disappointing.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but one reason for this is that we are trying to do too much in the space of mentoring. Each department tries to manage a mentoring program within itself. Additionally, there is an orchestrated approach. Typically some HR or COO team will try to enlist volunteers as mentors and then assign these mentors to employees. As a result, just a selected few employees within the department end up being part of the mentoring conversations. This approach often results in insufficient mentoring conversations across the organization.
A better approach would be try and do less in terms of orchestrating the mentoring connections and conversations. Democratize mentoring and let it operate like a free market. Enable employees across the organization to communicate if they are interested in being a mentor at a point in time. Create transparency on this interest to the rest of the organization. Employees can then review the list of mentors and reach out and connect to them.
Depending on the kind of platform you use to enable this, you can go further in terms of analytics, feedback and workflows to support mentoring connections. Some platforms even help make recommendations on mentors who may be anywhere within the organization but who may be more aligned with the aspirations of a particular employee.
Leverage the power of mentoring to increase engagement. Start by making small changes to your approach to mentoring and letting the connections / conversations grow.