In a recent ASTD/i4cp research report, "Learning in a Down Economy," only 23 percent of learning professionals admit that their firms currently use mentoring and peer coaching to a high or very high extent, while more than 67 percent of learning executives say that they should be using mentoring or coaching to a high or very high extent.
According to the report, "lay-offs are affecting all levels of business, and employees - including trainers - are finding themselves with more responsibility than they've ever had before and nowhere to turn for leadership and guidance. Mentoring is now more important than ever."
Mentoring helps employees stay engaged, gain valuable skills and knowledge, get career advice, and acquire valuable feedback on how to handle different workplace situations. It also benefits organizations by increasing employee productivity and retention.
So if the benefits of mentoring are valuable to both employees and organizations, then why is mentoring not a common practice in most organizations?
Maybe it is because, as Michael Laff writes in his feature article on page 32, "the benefits of mentoring are highly intangible and thus difficult to measure in a results-obsessed business culture." Or, maybe it's the time, effort, and planning that it takes to do a program right.
One thing is for sure: mentoring is more than just matching an executive with a high potential - the programs needs to meet business goals and build trust and communication within the organization.
Learning professionals will play a major role in the design and delivery of solid mentoring program, but a key part of their task will be to prepare the protg and the mentor to understand their responsibilities prior to the first meeting. It is the responsibility of the learning professional to monitor the process to ensure that protgs are meeting their goals.
Mentoring, in any form, requires careful preparation. Establishing a successful structured mentoring program can reduce costs, shorten time to productivity for new hires, and help retain key talent. It may take some time and careful preparation, but in the end, a mentoring program that supports business goals can pay huge dividends for both the organization and the participants.