Why mentoring is important in workplace

Can also be formal, wherein a framework is advocated within which the counsel is provided, with a clear objective, action plan, milestones and review

By Sanjeev Pradhan Roy

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Published: Thu 7 Sep 2023, 6:23 PM

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

At the workplace, belonging is the new inclusion and one that addresses all forms of disengagement of employees or the lack of engagement from employers. Needless to say, it erodes bonhomie, sense of purpose and hits at the core of culture — connectedness! Mentoring is the catalyst for evolved organisations that resolves disengagement, boosts personal development and drives optimism. It could generally be viewed as an experienced colleague helping out a novice or less experienced counterpart, either on issues related to work or as a sounding board. This is an organic or informal form of mentoring that is derived from real empathy, passion to help unconditionally in a settled work environment.

Mentoring can also be formal, wherein a framework is advocated within which the counsel is provided, with a clear objective, action plan, milestones and review. This form includes peer-to-peer mentoring (matching of employees to other peers with similar backgrounds and careers), mentor-protégé mentoring (pairing of less experienced employees to seniors), cross-functional mentoring (interdepartmental colleagues are paired for knowledge sharing and community drive), reverse mentoring now (less experienced employees, mainly GenZ, are paired with senior colleagues for new-age skills and tools), group mentoring (experienced colleagues run a batch programme based on a certain objective and structure) and external mentoring (employees are assigned to external mentors for objectivity and unique perspective through platforms like GrowthMentor).

There is also an emergence of employee resource groups that drives belonging based on shared values, interests and preferences. Amongst the leading trends for mentoring are fostering re-engagement, genuine connections and DEI-aligned initiatives like ERG.

As per a Gallup study, 50 per cent of employees are “quiet quitting”, so employers need to find ways to re-engage with their talent, address their pain points and work collectively in the “mindspace” as much as workplace.

One hundred per cent of the Diversity Inc Top 50 companies use mentoring, leaning further into affinity spaces, especially ERGs that is community led and committed. For example, Cooley is a global law firm that uses its mentorship to onboard new hires quickly and effectively. The company uses software to automatically match new hires with more senior mentors in a programme called the Cooley Academy Mentoring Program (CAMP). Mentors and mentees meet for regular sessions — both structured and unstructured — to discuss things like delegation, goal-setting, and career-pathing.

A global E&Y Belonging Barometer study concluded that 80 per cent of employees are feeling left out at work, which isn’t accidental or circumstantial. Mentorship is an existential reality that can’t be ignored.

Unlike training programmes, mentorship is transient across organisational shifts, based on trust, camaraderie and journeys that often border on personal lives.

I recall my mentorship days in one of the largest retail conglomerates in Mumbai. As part of my sales team, driving inclusiveness, I had mobilised a few people from Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi. One, in particular, caught my interest, as he was hungry to make it big, had the passion but desperately needed guidance and support. I took Altaf under my wings, trained him, supported him on all counts, including personal grooming, English lessons, clothing and a sense of security with some money. It was organic mentoring at work, that came from a genuine urge to help someone grow. Result: due to his efforts, we managed record sales for a private label that was about to be shelved. I am sure the HR community at large, including executives, will have their own stories to share, that continue to make them smile. Conversely, we would reflect and thank our own mentee journeys that influenced our career trajectories.

As they say, don’t ask what your organisation can do for you, ask what you can do for the organisation. Tell me and I forget….Teach me and I may remember….Involve me and I learn!


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