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MGM Defining Thought Leadership

Corporate Mentoring Builds Leaders From Within


Sometimes people need a spark to get creative ideas flowing. Or, as the Bible says, “iron sharpens iron.” How does that happen within a company? The answer: corporate mentoring.

Corporate mentoring is on the rise, according to Chronus, a company that delivers mentoring, coaching and onboarding programs to companies, universities and organizations. Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship, which is likely why more companies are adopting mentoring programs.

Lora Phillips, director of corporate responsibility for Symantec, has participated in such programs as both a mentor and a mentoree. “As a mentor I got a ton out of it,” she told TriplePundit. “I think there’s real value for everyone involved. The people being mentored increase in confidence. They get a different perspective on how to deal with the issues they face. For me, one of the biggest benefits of being a mentoree has been getting that spark of creativity.”

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that mentoring not only helps those being mentored, but helps mentors as well. Researchers found that mentors were more satisfied with their jobs and committed to the organization. And providing career mentoring was almost always associated with career success. As the authors stated, “The findings support mentoring theory in that mentoring is reciprocal and collaborative and not simply beneficial for protégés.”

Symantec’s corporate mentoring program is at the “very, very beginning stages ... It just kicked off last month,” Phillips told us. The company plans to begin by focusing on its network of community-relations committees and employee-resource groups. For example, the company is home to a women’s resource group, an LGBT resource group and a black resource group, all of which will collaborate on the new mentoring initiative.

Symantec assembled a small group of people for the pilot who meet virtually on conference calls, with a focus on leadership development. They will spend the next few months exploring various leadership topics.

“We have a number of different groups that are operating at the grassroots level,” Phillips explained. “What we want to do is identify those people who have enormous potential to really show some leadership qualities in driving those agendas and taking a leadership and influencer role at their site.”

Why is Symantec tackling corporate mentoring, especially considering its already sizable network of employee-resource groups? “We set high-level corporate responsibility goals," Phillips told us, "and we drive them from a departmental standpoint.” Symantec realizes that without the action, advocacy and passion of it employees on the ground, its strategies won't translate into actionable results.

“So, we really want to invest in those employees and make sure that we’re providing them with the tools to channel that passion and that spirit of advocacy in ways that allow them to grow professionally and the business to advance its goals."

Corporate mentoring programs boost the bottom line

But mentoring programs go beyond sparking creativity. “Mentoring improves retention, promotion, productivity [and] development,” the Millennium Group, LLC, a management consulting and professional services firm, concluded in a white paper.

The group lists statistics to back up that statement: 77 percent of companies said mentoring programs increased retention, and 75 percent of executives indicated that mentoring played a key role in their careers.

Management Mentors, a company that designs and implements business mentoring programs, lists the benefits of mentoring for a business:

  • Mentoring conveys that management is willing to invest in its employees.

  • It shows the outside world that the company values its employees.

  • It fosters more loyal employees.

  • It creates a more positive work environment.

  • It fosters leadership skills in mentors and encourages the mentoree’s growth.

A mentoring program can help participating employees -- the mentorees -- move up within a company, which creates new leadership.

Four years ago, DHL Express started a corporate mentoring program in the U.S. that it calls its Advanced Mentoring Program. Through the program, certain employees are selected to be supported by “experienced managers and given individual coaching,” the logistics company wrote in a blog post about the program. When DHL Express evaluated its pilot program, it found that 60 percent of the participants had moved into higher positions. And the company considers the program to be highly successful.

How to start a corporate mentoring program

How does a company make mentoring a priority and drive new thought leaders from within its own ranks? Phillips suggests three simple steps to get started:

  • Decide on goals for the program.

  • Identify the right people to help and to serve as mentors.

  • Figure out where the first two intersect.

Online mentoring technology platforms like Mentor Scout can also be of help. Companies like Toyota, Xerox, United Technologies and ConAgra Foods have all used Mentor Scout to develop corporate mentoring programs.

The company suggests a number of ways to start a mentoring program, including planning workplace mentoring around a company or organization’s human-resources goals and outlining the objectives for each initiative of the mentoring program. It also suggests finding an "executive champion,” specifically, someone that is outside of the HR department who attributes their success to having had a great mentor.

Image credit: Pixabay

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

Read more stories by Gina-Marie Cheeseman