Mentorships: Developing Leadership Potential

No matter how competitive the salaries and benefits you offer, these can only go so far when rewarding new employees and retaining tenured ones. If the Great Resignation AKA Talent Reshuffle has taught us anything, it’s that employees want more out of their job than just a paycheck. They want to know that their work is meaningful such that it brings personal and professional growth. It’s no wonder that organizations spend billions on Leadership and Development (L&D) programs to build or improve leadership skills among their employees.

Mentorships, as part of wider L&D efforts, improve employee retention rates, encourages a strong company culture, and facilitates the exchange of ideas and knowledge between organizational leaders and employees. Corporate mentoring programs help bridge the gap between the opportunities provided by a company and employee expectations.

So, let’s explore mentorship programs—the best approach, their importance, and their benefits to companies and employees.

Mentorship Program: What Is the Best Approach?

Formal mentorship or leadership programs have a mentor or leadership coach that guides employees through their professional journeys. Such programs are designed to train employees to go about their tasks efficiently. Mentorship programs improve employees’ skills, abilities, and confidence, preparing them for leadership roles. The two popular approaches of mentoring are group mentoring and one-on-one mentoring. Both have

One-On-One Mentoring

One-on-one mentoring happens between a mentor and an individual. This is ideal for leadership training and employee development, allowing mentors to focus on a single employee and gain insight into their capabilities and potential. The mentor can help individual employees achieve goals by knowing and managing their strengths and weaknesses—addressing the weaknesses and polishing the strengths.

There are two guidance styles: peer mentoring and career mentoring. Peer mentors introduce new employees to the organizational culture and “show them the ropes” to ensure they adjust and integrate well. Meanwhile, career mentors act as coaches or internal advocates to help the mentee achieve their professional goals and prepare for future promotions.

One-on-one programs can be tailored to suit specific goals and requirements. For example, a mentor will work closely with an individual who has potential but lacks productivity skills to help them improve their competency in that area.

Group Mentoring

Group mentoring involves multiple individuals guided by a single mentor. In this type of program, the mentor supplies instructions to a group of people. Such mentoring is ideal for a team project, assignment, or among mentees with a mutual aim. It relies on team cooperation and employee engagement.

Importance of Mentorship Programs

Mentorship programs are important and beneficial for both the organization and its employees. They allow companies to develop a large talent pool internally while keeping employees motivated and satisfied.

Importance to the Organization

Organizations with the right mentorship have a higher chance of success because mentorship programs help in grooming and developing existing members to become future leaders. L&D programs create a positive work culture that encourages an environment of growth and learning. This improves employee engagement and retention. Such programs help reduce leadership gaps within the organization and nurture new leaders to contribute to the organization’s goals. By training current employees to be leaders, organizations safeguard their future as these employees will remain loyal and grow in their careers. Eventually, these future leaders can also train other employees.

Importance for Employees

Mentors function as guides and role models. Employees look up to them and tend to follow in their footsteps. Mentors help employees improve their skills to reach their goals and build a successful career. Thus, these mentors help employees grow professionally, and many a time personally too.

Mentors also act as a line of communication between lower rung employees and those in more senior positions, thereby promoting better communication. This is crucial for those wishing to navigate work culture and progress up the rungs with successful communication and networking.

Although every employee gains from the guidance of a mentor, rising stars with the potential for leadership roles deserve a higher focus. These individuals may not have realized their potential yet or may lack a certain ability that hinders them from reaching their full capacity. When such employees are given the right mentorship, support, and training, they are exposed to new and different perspectives that allow them to self-reflect and outline realistic goals for themselves. They hold themselves accountable for remaining focused and on track. Rising stars gain knowledge, encouragement, constructive feedback, and connections, crucial for professional development. They perform significantly better than other employees. This becomes evident when they face challenges independently or when others in the team start looking to them for direction.

Mentorship and DEI

Mentorship programs can also help bring DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) to the workplace — three factors essential for a company to function efficiently and profitably.

While diversity programs for the disabled, ethnic minorities, and women started around 1970, these programs are still far and few between in 2022. A 2019 survey showed that of those employed in Silicon Valley tech firms, only 5% were people of color. This lack of DEI is evident across all other employment sectors as well and even applies to mentorships – only 5% of black employees have sponsors or mentors, while 20% of white employees do, according to another survey.

Why is DEI important and how can mentorships help organizations improve their DEI efforts?

Diversity

Diversity is the presence of diverse individuals at various levels of leadership in an organization, who have been selected based on merit, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic class, and other identity factors. To promote diversity in the workplace, companies should ensure that they employ people of any race, ethnicity, gender, age, etc. Companies must focus more on the qualifications and potentials of individuals rather than their backgrounds. A diverse workplace creates a more accepting work environment while enhancing the company’s image.

Equity

Equity is the impartiality and fairness in providing equal opportunities for all employees, with consideration for marginalized and disabled employees. Equity refers to unbiased programs and fair access to resources for all employees. This helps boost individual productivity since employees tend to work harder in a workplace with equal opportunities. Equity formulates healthy relationships among colleagues—another factor that boosts efficiency.

Inclusion

Inclusion ensures that all employees feel a sense of comfort, safety, belongingness, and support from their superiors and within the organization, especially the freedom to be their authentic selves. This is integral to the dynamics of a company. Employees should feel valued within the workplace and included in the day-to-day activities besides their professional contributions.

DEI programs are especially beneficial to women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. They help eliminate discrimination by promoting awareness, paving the way for minorities to achieve better representation in the corporate world. These programs create a balanced and healthy workplace that both the employees and the organization can benefit from.

Conclusion

Large corporations thrive because of the efforts of their employees. Therefore, it’s imperative to ensure that employees are offered assistance in dealing with issues and tackling problems they encounter within the workplace.

Mentorship programs provide guidance to the employees, improve communication between colleagues, and promote professional development by helping individuals recognize their potential. These programs act as a map to guide potential employees through their professional growth and career development, thus contributing vastly to a company’s success, both within the workplace and in the public eye.

Looking for L&D programs for your company? Check out GrowthSpace for your mentoring needs.