Are mentoring programs effective?
Like all people programs, it’s a questions that needs asking. But unlike many other people programs, it’s a question which we do have definitive answers to.
And the answer is yes; they are extremely effective for both individuals and organisations.
One of the most tangible goals of any organisational mentoring program is to get more out of employees; whether that be through new skill development or increased confidence. Recent studies have shown that as many as 75% of millennials deem mentoring critical to their success – while around 75% of executives credit their mentors with helping them achieve their success.
Further bolstering the apparent effectiveness of mentoring in the workplace is the fact that other studies have shown that employees who received mentoring were promoted 5 times more often than those who did not. 5 times.
Whether that is a result of mentoring leading to more active sponsorship, improved soft skills or improved domain expertise is not obvious, but what is obvious, is that mentoring has proven extremely effective for employee development.
Some leaders are born – but the vast majority are made (here is a great article about this from our COO). Mentoring programs are one of the most effective tools for increasing and accelerating leadership development.
Firstly, they strengthen the critical management and leadership skills of current managers (typically mentors) – Managerial productivity increased by 88% when mentoring was involved, versus only 24% with training alone.
And secondly, they provide younger people (typically mentees) with a forum for learning from others with experience in and an understanding of management – as well as developing the soft skills to become great leaders.
Organisational engagement & retention
There are also some areas where mentoring is directly effective for organisations (more so than indirectly through individuals): retention and engagement.
Mentoring programs link organisations and their people together, increase knowledge share and break down artificial silos, and improve overall culture. They also empower individuals to take control of their own development and career progress.
This helps people stay engaged in their place of work and with the mission of the organisation; making for more productive and happy people – and a more efficient organisation.
The result of this increased engagement and connection to a company? Studies have shown retention rates have been much higher for mentees and mentors (72% and 69%) than for employees not involved in mentoring programs (49%).
Diversity & inclusion
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is another often-talked-about product of mentoring. Is mentoring an effective solution for the lack of diversity and inclusion in many of our organisations?
It can definitely help.
Mentoring has proven to help women in STEM related studies and fields:
“Mentoring acts as a social vaccine. Just as medical vaccines prepare the immune system to deal with infections, good mentors inoculate the mind against the stultifying effects of negative stereotypes.”
It has also proven to lead to increased female sponsorship, which is often the natural progression of mentorship. These things have helped many women navigate many difficult ecosystems and environments, and continues to prove effective at impacting positive change.
And in deeper studies, mentoring has proven just as critical for ethnic minorities:
“Research shows that minorities who advance the furthest share one characteristic: a strong network of mentors and corporate sponsors. He found that minorities who plateaued in middle management received mentoring that was basically instructional; it helped them to develop skills. By contrast, minorities who became executives enjoyed fuller developmental relationships with their mentors.”
Attracting great talent
And if that’s not all enough, mentoring has proven to also be effective at attracting people to an organisation. With 75% of millennials deeming mentoring critical to their own success, it’s no surprise to see that more than 60% of college and graduate students listed mentoring as a criterion for selecting an employer after graduation.
And as discussed – after attracting them – mentoring helps engage and retain this talent too.
That’s compound effectiveness.
The fact that 71% of Fortune 500 companies run mentoring programs is indicative of the fact that they are effective. But just how effective is often underestimated.