A performance boost for companies and employees
How can you harness the experience of a senior executive, and spread the new ideas and fresh approach of a promising young manager?The answer lies in mentoring, a practice that's growing in popularity as companies look to develop their future leaders.Low-cost, high returns, and happy people all round - what’s not to love about a mentoring programme?
Mentoring has never been so popular, with more and more companies looking to develop the careers of their employees to keep top talent sticking around for the long term, without resorting to personalised and expensive training. Tailored to the specific needs of their company, and delivered at little or no cost, mentoring can be provided with a whole range of objectives - from on-boarding new recruits to improving collaboration and promoting inclusion. Add the more familiar role of passing on experience to younger, talented employees into the mix, and it’s easy to understand why it's so popular.
For a successful mentoring programme, though, careful planning is essential. Once the objectives have been decided, the next step is the format – such as inter-generational, where senior executives pass on their experience, or a focus on gender, where the aim could be to develop women’s leadership. Typically, this offers not only a transfer of knowledge, but also a better understanding of generational differences on both sides. Firms also need to decide if a mentor is helping a single employee or a group.
More confidence, higher revenues
The benefits of mentoring are wide-ranging, with corporate programmes being proven to increase people’s skills and self-confidence. They also improve employee engagement and retention, which raise productivity and lower HR costs respectively. A Gartner Group study found that retention rates were higher for both mentees (72%) and mentors (69%) than for other employees, while another survey revealed that nearly twice as many mentored businesses reported an increase in revenue as non-mentored counterparts.
It's not only that people get better at their jobs through being mentored - it also gives people a buzz. There's a feel-good factor to passing on expertise, as well as to working with someone who's got your best interests at heart.
A boost for careers
And if mentoring is good for business, it’s also very popular with employees. Over 79% of Millennials see mentoring as crucial to their career success. Studies also show that 25% of employees enrolled in a mentoring programme had a positive salary-grade change, compared to 5% who didn't enroll.
Such is the consensus among management and staff of their positive impact, that over 71% of Fortune 500 companies now offer mentoring programmes. Take it from the top companies in the world - mentoring makes a difference.
Our own experiences
The benefits of mentoring are well known to us here at Sodexo. A programme was first deployed at Sodexo Group in 2009, while Sodexo in the UK began mentoring in 2014 with a target audience of the top 350 managers.
Around 24 to 28 mentees and an equal number of mentors – in separate departments and ideally in different countries - are selected for its international programme every June. Organised by the Talent Management team, the selection process matches the needs of potential mentees on the one hand, with our business requirements on the other.
Over the year, each pair has a monthly conversation by phone or Skype for at least an hour, plus an annual face-to-face meeting. With the objectives and format agreed at the outset, the programme has proved very successful for the business, and really popular among our people.
Small investment, big return
In their feedback, the mentees are extremely enthusiastic, and they really appreciate that someone is taking time to help them. Satisfaction levels with our programmes are spectacular, as they meet a real need.
While mentees gain in knowledge, leadership and career development, it;s not just one-way traffic. Mentors also learn new ideas and new approaches, and both sides also gain in empathy. Mentoring costs very little to provide, yet is very beneficial for everyone involved. It’s the ultimate win-win! And it's pretty safe to say that we're big fans.
A personal experience
The following testimonial is from Sarah Faucheur, chief financial officer of Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services in Spain. Take it away, Sarah!
I was mentored from June to December 2014 by the CEO in Venezuela, and without his mentoring I would not be in my current post (I was in the Group Financial Control team when my manager suggested I join the programme). We had a 90-minute phone call every two weeks, we set action plans for each session, and by the end I had learned a great deal.
I was inspired by his encouragement, along with his simple and clear advice based on his experience. In each session, I explained the events of the previous two weeks and answered his questions, which enabled me to assess things more clearly. I feel that it accelerated my progress, and that I gained in seniority and assertiveness. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I would recommend it to anyone.