When it comes to the mentor/mentee relationship, we often hear about the benefits to the latter, but the former also reaps substantial value. In fact, people who mentor typically earn $25,000 a year in additional compensation, on average, than do people who do not mentor, according to the results from a study conducted by Odyssey Mentoring that examined the topic between 2008 and 2010. The reason is that mentors are helping employees become more productive while adding additional revenue to the business. “Success flows upward. You can leverage that success when you have a supportive, learning environment,” according to Forbes. Imagine the impact on revenues a corporate mentoring program could have for the largest of companies.
Financial benefits to the mentor can also be found in the closing of the leadership gap that results from a well-run mentoring program. That’s because as Baby Boomer leaders retire and turn over the reins to the next generation of managers, the value of corporate stocks are likely to remain unchanged. Shareholders will recognize the consistency in leadership. That, in turn, will have a positive effect on the value of mentors’ retirement packages, including stock options.
For mentors not on the cusp of retirement and still active in the day-to-day activities of the business, they too will see their own performance improve as a result of coaching colleagues. Mentors often experience higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction themselves, which leads to higher productivity. “When employees participate in effective mentoring programs we see higher levels of job satisfaction for both mentors and mentees. This means they are coming to work, ready to achieve their goals, assist their colleagues and understand how their roles make a difference in the company’s future and their own.”
In addition to the financial benefits of mentoring, there is the emotional upswing that often results. As former Secretary of State Colin Powell points out, it is often the mentor who reaps more benefit from the relationship than does the mentee. “Satisfaction comes from helping a youngster [and] putting the youngster on the path to success.”
If all of this has persuaded you to start a mentoring program here are the six essential steps leadership should consider taking, according to Stephanie Burns from Chic CEO.
- Program Leader. Identify the person who will guide this program and be the matchmaker between mentors and mentees. This person needs to have good communications skills.
- Provide Training. Since the goal is to improve productivity, be sure to have a structured program built around critical listening and actionable feedback.
- Questions. Truly good mentors have mastered the art of helping their mentees to make the right decisions on their own. This is best accomplished by asking a lot of questions as opposed to simply providing advice and answers. “The key to being a good mentor is to help people become more of who they already are – not to make them more like you.”
- Framework. Mentoring programs can easily devolve into loosely structured events. Instead, build a program that has specific guidelines, timing, etc. to ensure mentors and mentees meet on a regular basis.
- Goals. Burns recommends mentors and mentees create a set of three specific goals they want to get out of the program that are measurable and specific.
- Advocacy. The mentorship program should be part of the leadership advancement scheme of management. It should become part of the training and vetting process for the next level of leaders.
“No one learns in a vacuum, and it’s the men and women who are able to sponge up the wisdom of others – and then, when the time is right, pay it forward by becoming mentors themselves – who set themselves apart.”