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Mentors Provide for Productivity in Corporate Settings With Greater Return than Most Training Alternatives

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC) has announced findings that active mentoring within even the largest organizations can have a direct impact on individual productivity.

"The time saved by people who have access to an expert source," says SAC CEO Alan Weiss, Ph.D., "is significant, as is their ability to take faster action and prudent risk based on their mentor's advice."

Many organizations have formal mentor programs and many more encourage informal ones. "One of the keys," says Weiss, "is to assign mentors who are not in the direct reporting channel of the individual."

"Mentoring is an important way to develop and retain key employees," said Linda Popky, president of L2M Associates, Inc., a strategic marketing firm located in Redwood City, CA., and one of SAC's experts on the subject. "Whether a company chooses to implement a formal mentoring program or encourage informal mentoring relationships may be dependent on such factors as company culture and type of organization."

In either case, there are four things to keep in mind to create the environment for successful mentoring:

Don't follow the masses: The most popular or well-known executive is not always the best choice for a mentor. Mentors should have relevant experience to share and the desire and time to share it.

Expand your horizons: Encourage employees to look for a mentor with a somewhat different background, set of experiences, or contacts. This is an opportunity for employees to grow and expand their frame of reference.

It's a two-way street: Mentors can gain as much from the process as mentees. Each should consider what they bring to the experience and how discussions can be valuable to their partner as well.

Set reasonable expectations: Mentor pairs should agree in advance on what areas they'll work, the timeframe for the relationship and the frequency of discussions, and they should be flexible in adapting to changing business needs.

"Mentoring is inexpensive, highly productive, and a symbol to employees that they are not sailing solo," notes Weiss. "It's usually of higher impact and longer lived in its effectiveness than most high-cost training programs, outdoor experiences, or other attempts at employee development."

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