Modern Mentoring Programs

According to the SHRM 2013 Employee Benefits Survey,
mentoring programs are becoming more popular as an
employee benefit, bouncing back after a five year decline.

Sodexo, an organization which specializes in Quality of
Life Services, has suggested in its 2013 Workplace Trends
report that to be effective, organizations should broaden
mentoring programs beyond the traditional 1-on-1
relationships between senior leaders and junior employees.

Examples of the types of mentoring programs that Sodexo
uses include:

*Topical: One or more expertise leaders (called advisors)
guide learners in conversation, knowledge sharing and
practical application related to specific topics to help
them build deep expertise. These mentoring groups
regularly meet for a mutual learning exchange on a topic
of interest. People can find or create learning groups on
their own, or organizations can manage the process.

*Situational: One or more advisors address immediate
learning needs, and several people offer solutions and
ideas for quick answers on a high-impact issue, problem,
or opportunity, and mentees apply the solution that fits
their need.

*Peer: An informal mentoring initiative based on company-
approved groups such as African American leaders, military
veterans, women, Latino employees, Pan-Asian employees,
etc.

*Reverse: A member of a younger generation mentors an
employee of an older generation to share trends in
technology, new ideas, innovations and perspectives.

*Open: This technique uses technology to promote self-
directed relationships and allows employees to collaborate
with one or more mentoring partners across the globe to
address their learning needs in the manner they prefer.

The Sodexo report suggests that a modern mentoring program
should incorporate a “hybrid” approach, focusing on
connecting people across an organization and allowing for
virtual relationships and multi-participant involvement.

Sodexo’s report suggests that mentoring works best when:

**Five to 15 people are involved in what it calls the
knowledge-sharing network.

**Learners and advisors are diverse, coming from different
functions, locations and generations.

**People shift in and out of the mentoring network and the
roles they are in “as learning needs and knowledge
strengths evolve.”

HR POINTER: In large organizations, mentoring programs are
invaluable in helping employees grow by navigating the
politics and expectations of a large company. But, what
about small companies?

The mistake that smaller companies make is that they think
that mentoring is only 1-on-1 and therefore very time
consuming. What the above information shows is that the
best mentoring is done in small groups.

As such, leaders in smaller companies can “disguise”
mentoring programs by creating and facilitating various
groups of high-potential employees around various projects
or committees. With a properly structured meeting agenda,
a good leader can use such small group activities to grow
and retain existing employees without having all the
hoopla of an official Mentoring Program.

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