What is Career Mentoring?
Career Mentoring is where the focus of the mentoring is purely on career development. This can explore behaviours and thinking patterns. However, because it is usually focussed on career stepping stones often these wider issues can be missed.
How is it done-
Many organisations provide an in house internal mentoring programme where more experienced employees support others to show them the way, some organisations have outsourced career mentoring programmes and individuals can of course seek external support such as our Career Crossroads service.
Benefits of in house programmes –
By creating an in house programme you can:
- Build in the right support for your team of both mentors and mentees
- Provide frameworks and protocols to protect all parties
- Visibly and practically invest in the training and development of all involved
- Create a more collaborative and engaged team
- Reduce employee turnover
- Upskill all involved
Challenges of in house problems –
With all the benefits, it’s clear many people get very enthused about starting a mentor programme within their organisation. However, with every single engagement I have had to review/improve/develop a programme, there have been challenges which have affected end results and critically people’s engagement with the programme.
Of course, there is always a way to resolve things. However if the planning, training and protocol stages are fully explored then your programme has a brilliant chance of success and this up front investment in your mentoring programme is so important.
Resources can be an issue as well as conflict of interest. In these cases, all the same benefits are achieved for your mentees with an outsourced programme. The challenge here is that you are missing the potential benefits of developing your mentors too. The solution here could be a blended programme of internal and external support.
Mentoring versus Training versus Support –
One key area of strategy here is deciding exactly what your employees want. If we take the example of the mentoring programmes set up for employee next level professional accreditation purposes then the mentee wants:
- Holistic care
Mentoring cannot cover all these areas and indeed some of these areas are outside the Code of Mentoring Conduct. As an example, you cannot fulfil an independent mentor role with no conflict of interest if you are also responsible for your mentees assessment for their next role.
There are lots of protocols to consider here too. For example acting in the mentees best interests and confidentiality could come into conflict with your role and responsibilities if your mentee shares they considering leaving/taking time out/not completing the next stage.
In programmes like this mentoring often works best as part of a blended holistic programme including training and access to an experienced practitioner for knowledge and technical help to support overall.
Career Mentoring versus Overall Mentoring
The reason I am often concerned about positioning career mentoring programmes is that I honestly believe mentoring works best for everyone when it is a holistic development.
The focus on the career result can make for very narrow mentoring interventions which may lead to less value being added.
It’s interesting looking at these latest facts:
Development and Your Team-
47.8% of employees working within SMEs feel that their personal development isn’t being taken seriously by their employer, while 66% have no kind of personal development plan whatsoever. Those that did, saw higher engagement levels. (Breathe HR 1,000 employees UK survey)
Emotional Intelligence and Your skills –
75% of UK residents don’t like talking about their feelings. 19% can’t remember the last time they did. (Oxford Social Issues Research Centre & Mental Health Foundation). Repressive coping mechanisms have significantly higher risks of cancer and blood pressure.
Trusted Networking/team training benefits –
Social support links to improved performance in 100% cases (Uni of Bangor).
So, by extending your mentoring programme remit you really can have a much greater impact.
Top 3 things to consider with in house programmes –
If the programme has been created for a specific sector such as new entrants then how do other employees feel? By only providing support to certain employees resentment can build over time out for it and the sheer fact they have not been invested in whilst others have. A recent Investors in People survey found 60% of UK employees were not happy in their jobs with lack of job satisfaction being 48% of the reason and feeling valued 30%. So, by creating a positive mentoring programme for a few and not considering inclusion could create even more disengagement.
Training and support for mentors –
Clearly, I’m biased 😊 however after supporting the training of hundreds of mentors I have yet to find someone who regretted taking the time out for the training. Just because someone is experienced and skilled in their role doesn’t mean they will naturally make a great mentor. Even where mentors have had previous leadership and senior experience the mentoring means that they now need to use those skills in a unique way. In fact, some of the skills that are needed to be highly focussed and successful in some roles are ones that are unhelpful in mentoring roles.
If you take a sports example here then the best coaches are not necessarily the best sports achievers in their field. This means is is very important to consider the application process to become a mentor to ensure only the right people with the right support get involved.
Once the mentor training is completed then that’s only the start of their journey. It is critical to build in ongoing support and peer learning to develop your mentor’s confidence, engagement and skills.
The investment in mentor training here will help your organisation in so many ways. Mentor training means high levels of employee engagement which is of course crucial to boosting business profit however training also contributes in another way. It’s only logical that by improving your employees’ skills, they are going to be better at their jobs.
The special thing about mentor training though is it boosts confidence, communication and emotional intelligence skills which leads to a much better working environment for all.
This stage often gets ignored and it can cause real issues. It makes a real difference that well before the mentoring starts the mentee fully understands what to expect. The Mentoring Code of Conduct comes in useful here as you can use it as a discussion point. I’ve found reassurance over confidentiality and being very clear on boundaries has been especially useful here.
The mentees also need a central point of reference for any issues and of course sharing success!
Investing in a mentoring programme overall helps with other issues. The fact that 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by his or her manager and that 70% employees are demotivated. (Gallup)
And that motivated employees are 87% less likely to quit, according to a Corporate Leadership Council study on over 50,000 people. This means supported employees are more likely to stay and thrive in better supported organisations.
I do hope this blog has helped you think through your own options. Mentoring really does make an amazing difference to individuals, teams and organisations so it’s definitely worth doing!
If you want our help at any time then we have a flexible support for Mentoring Programmes and various training and qualification options for mentors.
Happy Mentoring 😊