Wax On, Wax Off: How to Make Mentoring Part of Your L&D Strategy

Some of the greatest heroes of our time owe their success to the attention and advice of a mentor: Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior; Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson; The Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi. Mentoring is for more than literary figures and fashion powerhouses, though; it’s a method for increasing satisfaction for both the mentor and the mentee. When mentoring is applied to a blended L&D approach, it adds a new depth to go far beyond training by rote. Could mentoring be the piece your strategy is missing?

Why Use Mentors?

If you already have a successful L&D strategy in place, you might have trouble seeing the true need for mentoring within your organization. But it’s not just glorified babysitting: True mentoring occurs when two compatible colleagues are able to share and grow together, offering benefits for both.

For the Mentee…

The person on the receiving end of the mentoring can expect significant benefits in professional growth. Having a mentor effectively shortens almost any learning curve. Head of Digital Learning at Adobe, Justin Mass, considers the onboarding process to last up to two years, including an extensive mentoring program between employees. By making mentoring part of the lengthy onboarding process, Adobe ensures a high rate of new hire success while offering the tools necessary for even brand-new employees to feel comfortable.

Mentees also enjoy a speedy rate of professional growth when compared to employees who strike out on their own. Mentors show them the ropes, make the right introductions, and act as a sounding board for ideas. This increases employee confidence, giving them the opportunities they want for growth.

For the Mentor…

It’s not a completely one-sided relationship. Mentors also score huge benefits by willing to lend a listening ear and help out someone new. Just the simple act of getting to share knowledge and expertise is hugely rewarding and can push a mentor to go above and beyond at work. Being a mentor also fosters crucial leadership skills to contribute to a plan for leadership succession and professional growth.

Both the mentor and the mentee can expect increased job satisfaction, which means better retention rates for the organization.

Implementing a Mentoring Program

There’s more to a mentoring program than pushing a couple of colleagues into a shared lunch. It takes careful planning to decide which mentors work best with which employees. And, since 80 percent of learning is informal, setting up both casual and formal opportunities for the mentor and mentee to spend time together is a necessary task.

Whether it’s a monthly lunch, an offsite conference, or weekly check-ins, a mentor needs to be dedicated to helping the mentee reach goals and increase chances for success. At the same time, the mentee needs to be willing to listen and then give feedback to supervisors to ensure the program has the desired results.

Mentors can make all the differences–just ask the Karate Kid. Even the most successful L&D strategies can benefit from the addition of face-to-face conversation, professional advice, and making connections at work.

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