There are many reasons why a mentorship program makes sense. Attracting and retaining young talent is just one of them.
- Good formal mentorship programs are structured. They have a beginning that starts with training and orientation, are peppered with accountability checkpoints along the way, and have a closure that celebrates the pairs’ work together.
- Successful mentorship programs build networks, not silos, because participants move through the program period (for example, a 12-month period), as a cohort. Case in point: when one mentor in a management-matched program (where mentors are appointed to work with partners) abandoned his partner, three other mentoring pairs — all from different areas of the company, stepped up to ‘adopt’ the partner. The closing celebration was a heartfelt and moving presentation that demonstrated the connectedness that occurred.
- Organizations allocate significant budgets to skill training, especially those trying to shore up skill gaps caused by today’s workplace demographics — Boomers exiting in droves, leaving fewer and inexperienced workers to take their place. Formal mentorship programs are cost-effective skill-building tools that support knowledge transfer and training that sticks.
- Successful mentoring is essentially about guiding and supporting the relationship, so built-in coaching support is vital. Sometimes managed by a coach who is outside the organization, mentoring pairs are more likely to speak up when the relationships hit roadblocks, and get the coaching support needed to succeed. And external coaches are more likely to identify faltering relationships early enough to coach mentoring pairs back to health.
- While attracting and retaining good people has become the plight of many organizations, generational discord has become the battle cry. Formal mentorship programs are appealing development and growth opportunities to younger workers who have choices when selecting an employer. Savvy employers who offer mentorship to potential candidates will enjoy an attraction and hiring edge, and will reap the benefit of building a culture that embraces the generational diversity of today — and tomorrow’s — workplace.