Are mentoring programs worth the effort? In a word, yes!
You hear about reskilling and upskilling across all industries. The average half-life of skills is now less than 5 years, and in some technology fields, it’s just 2.5 years, according to the Harvard Business Review. But skills are only half of the story. How can you be sure employees are applying those skills?
With a structured mentorship program, you can take learning and development to a new level. Whether your goal is reskilling, upskilling, or launching an apprenticeship, mentorship is a must-have to produce outcomes.
92% of all U.S. Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs
What’s In It for Organizations
The benefits start with much higher rates of employee retention and engagement. In a recent, in-depth study of U.S. Fortune 500 companies, MentorcliQ discovered that those with mentoring programs were significantly more resilient against employee quitting trends, with a median year-over-year employee growth of just over 3%. This compares to a median 33% decrease in the number of employees at Fortune 500 companies without mentoring programs.
Additional advantages of having a formal program include:
What’s In It for Mentors
Mentoring can be a very rewarding experience for many reasons, from personal satisfaction to having a lasting impact on an organization. Benefits for mentors include:
What’s In It for Mentees?
Benefits for mentees/apprentices start with the fact that 90% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship retain employment, with an average annual salary of $80,000, according to Registered Apprenticeship, a U.S. Department of Labor training model that spans a wide number of industries.
Participating in an apprenticeship program also allows employees to:
You’re Never Too Old for an Apprenticeship … And You’re Never Too Young to Be a Mentor.
There is no age limit for giving or receiving good advice. While the term “mentor” may conjure up images of Mr. Miyagi, the sensei to a teenage Karate Kid, the statistics show the age range is much broader.
Unlike other countries, the average age of new apprentices in the United States is 29. And according to the U.S. Department of Education, the average age of a mentor is only 31 years old.
Young mentees may be intimidated working with an executive who’s been with the organization for 30 years. The ideal mentor may be just 3 to 5 years ahead of them. They will have more in common and speak the same language, so they can provide helpful, practical insights and advice about navigating the path ahead.
Regardless of the stage of someone’s career, odds are that they can be a valuable mentor to someone else. Every person is at a point personally and professionally in their lives that other people will likely encounter soon.
They’re Good at It, But Can They Teach It?
Many of us have worked with managers who were promoted because they were good at what they did … but their workplace skills did NOT translate to effective management. The same is true for mentors in your organization.
The best mentors are those who can share their knowledge as they coach and support mentees, and do so with compassion.
Creating a solid framework and curriculum for “training the trainers” can ensure that the program helps you meet your objectives and offers consistent experiences for all mentors.
Similar to leadership coaching, your program should help mentors to:
What Does Mentoring Look Like?
In addition to one-on-one mentoring, your organization may consider shadowing assignments or trial periods along with on-the-job training for employees who want to make a change in career paths.
Some companies have less formal programs for peer mentoring, where people of similar ages and/or experience levels support each other. Other organizations use group mentoring, which can provide guidance to a larger number of individuals, with a focus on teaching and skill transfer vs. establishing personal relationships.
You may also hear the term “reverse mentoring,” which involves younger employees mentoring senior executives. We feel this is actually more like reciprocal learning compared with the formal definition of mentoring. It’s a two-way street that encourages both parties to teach and learn, developing a stronger relationship. Learn more about our take on reverse mentoring here.
Consider Registered Apprenticeship: Superhighway to Good Jobs
National Apprenticeship Week in November highlights the power of these programs to address pressing workforce shortages in industries such as teaching, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, cybersecurity, healthcare, supply chain, and other high-priority sectors.
Apprenticeships are structured work-based training programs that combine technical instruction (often in a classroom or online) with on-the-job learning and mentoring experiences.
The length of a Registered Apprenticeship program varies depending on the employer, industry, and complexity of the occupation.
A major benefit of these programs is that they are designed to reflect the communities in which they operate and to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the workplace. Over the last several years, many of these programs have had success in improving job quality and creating access to good-paying jobs for everyone, including populations that are historically underrepresented (women, people of color, and individuals with disabilities) and underserved (youth and young adults).
For more information on this program, feel free to reach out to us or visit Apprenticeship.gov.
Where Do You Begin?
At Solutions Arts, we’ve created programs to help train and prepare mentors. We give them opportunities to develop the soft skills they need to succeed as leaders and “coaches” to their mentees/apprentices. We’ve seen firsthand the kinds of programs that work—and those that don’t! if you’re considering establishing a mentorship program (or if you have one that isn’t performing as well as you’d like it to), give us a call.
Our clients and the training community ask us questions and often consistent themes emerge. From making learning stick to developing skills we once assumed every employee possessed, the challenges today’s businesses face can be transformed through a strong learning culture.
Every year, the learning and development industry presents exciting developments, time-saving innovations, and new research. Solutions Arts follows and tests theories, practices, and technologies, and our clients benefit from what we learn. We value sharing what we learn and the opportunity to discuss it here on our blog.