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Mentoring key to developing talent

Especially as the generation gap grows among businesses, mentoring can be an effective tool for businesses to meet their goals and foster professional development.

According to a recently released study by Association for Talent Development, the top benefits of formal mentoring programs were high employee engagement and retention, support for the growth of high-potential employees, international relationship building and collaboration and knowledge management and transfer.

More than 900 people replied to the survey. But only 29 percent reported having formal mentorship programs while 37 percent have informal programs.

According to ATD, the purpose of the present study, is “to shed light on formal mentoring programs, including effectiveness and benefits for all involved. The study also examines who serves in each role, training methods, platforms for mentoring sessions and the time mentors and mentees have been at their organization.”

Other key findings:

  • Organizations that train mentors and mentees before or during the program in skills, such as communication, listening and accountability are significantly more likely to indicate that mentoring programs are highly effective at meeting their learning goals.
  • The top three benefits mentees received from participating in mentoring programs were professional development (36 percent), a better understanding of organizational culture (30 percent) and the development of new perspectives (27 percent).
  • The top three benefits mentors received from participating in mentoring programs were the development of new perspectives (59 percent), the development of leadership skills (49 percent) and insight into the organization (38 percent).
  • Results showed that 57 percent thought their organizations’ mentoring programs were effective to a high or very high extent at achieving learning goals, while 38 percent of their organizations’ mentoring programs were effective to a high or very high extent at achieving business goals.

For those organizations looking to develop mentoring programs, ATD recommends:

  • Testing with a pilot program.
  • Using mentors for new hires.
  • Evaluating performance before and after the program to measure effectiveness.
  • Providing clear guidelines and training for all involved.
  • Getting buy-in from senior leaders.

“Formal mentoring programs are associated with a plethora of benefits for mentors, mentees, and their organizations,” ATD says. “For example, respondents indicated that the top benefits for mentees are professional development and a better understanding of organizational culture, while the primary benefits for mentors are developing new awareness of other perspectives and developing leadership skills.”

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