Looking back at 2017
Mentoring had a huge year in 2017; in fact, the age old practice became pretty hot in 2017, experiencing a revitalisation of sorts.
- We saw the rise of B2C and peer-to-peer mentoring via well known platforms including LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Bumble – showcasing the potential and demand for mentoring worldwide.
- We saw companies invest in mentoring like never before, doubling down on people programs, talent management, and the mitigation of low retention and engagement.
- We saw plenty of investment, innovation, and movement in the mentoring software space, which is beginning to occupy a larger share of the mentoring program market – as companies look to streamline their programs and reduce costly admin with evermore intuitive and effective software platforms.
- We saw more demand than ever for mentoring, with 75% of millennials declaring mentoring critical to their success, and over 65% saying they want a workplace mentor.
And we saw thousands of life-changing mentorship flourish around the world (millions occurred behind closed-doors) at schools, at corporations, at associations, at non-profits, and in everyday life.
So 2018 has a lot to live up to.
What can we expect from mentoring in 2018?
A focus on remote mentoring
The workforce is fragmenting. More and more people are working from home; more people are working flexibly; and more companies are going global sooner, resulting in smaller offices of less people situated in more places around the globe.
This means that companies which could rely on workplace interaction and observation for cultural immersion and belonging have to find new ways to bring their workforce and workers together.
Remote mentoring is a great solution. While remote meetings and video conferences go some way to integrating workforces, they don’t solve the need for more personable interactions and human connection. A mentoring program which connects remote employees to one another restores a sizeable chunk of the camaraderie and psychological connectedness lost by a more physically disconnected workforce.
For a long time now, companies have viewed their respective industries as a zero-sum game, in which another company’s gain is their company’s loss. But that world view has changed, and more and more companies are beginning to look at the world with an abundance mindset.
An abundance mindset that sees mutual benefit and increased efficiencies for all i.e the rising tide can lift all boats. In addition, the B2C sharing economy has showcased the incredible power and desire for sharing resources.
In the next few years, we will see the continued rise of the B2B sharing economy; driven by the fact that the benefits of engaging and sharing with other companies is far more enticing than the shrinking costs of doing so.
Part of this B2B sharing economy will include sharing talent more often. Not only will job marketplaces and flexible work continue to flourish, but marketplaces where mentors and mentees can flow between companies will flourish too – benefitting mentors, mentees, and the organisations which they currently work for.
The rise of modern mentoring
Mentoring is an ancient art, and it comes loaded with a lot of preconceived notions. Notions of the old wise man teaching his young protege about the ins and outs of a specific domain he has worked in for 50 years.
But the world has changed, and so has mentoring.
Today, newer forms of mentoring are flourishing: reverse mentoring, mentoring circles, and speed mentoring. These new and dynamic forms of mentoring are re-shaping the idea of mentoring, with traditional mentoring changing too.
Gone are the days of rigid one-to-one relationships reserved for the elite; and come are the days of more flexible and accessible relationships where everyone has something to learn and something to give.
Mentoring becoming more important
People around the world need mentoring more than ever. A rapidly evolving world, increased uncertainty, and the need for the bravery for change mean that we all need mentoring more than ever.
Companies are going to be looking to build people programs which develop soft skills, collaboration, and instill a sense of belonging.
Universities are going to have to provide offerings which move beyond traditional academia and supply graduates with the applicable skills and understanding they need to be successful outside of school.
Associations need to provide more value to their members who can simply create a Facebook group or connect online if they aren’t satisfied.
Startup communities and accelerators are going to look to expand their footprint and impact while remaining lean and efficient.
All of these organisations and communities are going to be looking towards mentoring as an essential tool for survival in 2018 and beyond.
What are the trends driving this transformation?
The changing workplace
The workplace is clearly changing. The location of work is changing; the nature of work is changing; the nature of workers is changing; and the industries and professions in which people are working are completely new. This is an inescapable truth and will continue to drive change in every facet of life.
Humans wanting to be human
For a number of years now, humans have been becoming increasingly acceptant (and partially in favour) of losing human interaction. But as much as people are frustrating, we are inherently social creatures – and we crave human interaction and belonging.
PayPal recently re-booted their mentoring program to have more human interaction and place choice back in the hands of people. They exchanged the matching algorithm for a good old fashioned face-to-face interaction.
Software and technology platforms will continue to remove unnecessary human interaction, but we will begin to see more software and more technology (like mentoring software) fill the very real human void created by technology.
The quantified self
The quantified self has gained a lot of momentum in the B2C space, with apps and technology making people heavily focused on optimising or improving efficiency, fitness, happiness, or time.
But we haven’t seen much of the quantified self in a professional sense. Most companies still view their people’s growth as being a function of classroom training and online courses.
The line between B2C and B2B is becoming blurred (as is the line between work and home), and in 2018 more companies will begin to invest in personal optimisation platforms and products (which will in-turn fuel investment in the sector) to increase the productivity, satisfaction and loyalty of their people.
A new generation
Lastly, a monumental driver of change in 2018 will be a new generation of workers. Boomers are retiring, millennials are becoming managers, and generation Z are entering flooding into the workforce.
While I think the differences between generations are often over-exaggerated, and end up levelling out over time as each generation grows up, there are some indisputable differences between generations.
These differences, including shorter attention spans, higher expectations, an increased desire for purpose at work, anda deeper technology focus, will drive the transformation we see in mentoring and mentoring software too.
2017 was a great year for mentoring. 2018 says we are just getting started.