Mentoring For a Competitive Advantage

Your organization uses many tools to achieve and maintain your competitive advantage: You stick to your strategic plan, understand and react to market trends, keep budgets in line, earnings consistent, and ensure your employees have what they need to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

One of the tools you use to maximize productivity and talent development is high-quality training. Great training can give you an initial bump in productivity of about 33 percent. Most executives I talk to say, “I’ll take it.”

But can you sustain that bump or exceed it over the long-term? The answer is YES! This is where a structured and effective mentoring program can really make the difference. Here’s how:

  • · By reinforcing skills-based training every day: For training to stick and mastery to be achieved, employees need daily practice, coaching, accountability and encouragement beyond the training room.  A mentor, even a peer mentor, can provide that support and boost your productivity over the long-term by as much as 88 percent.
  • By creating a challenging work environment: When your employees can be assigned work that offers enough challenges to make work exciting, interesting and a learning opportunity, job satisfaction increases.  With an experienced and effective mentor who has the time and the commitment to support them as they learn, employees can rise to the challenge with minimal risk of failure and missed deadlines.
  • By building your existing talent pool: Employees who align their career goals with your organizational goals are able raise the barre for themselves, co-workers and the organization– with the support of an effective mentor, they gain a better understanding of what the organizational goals are and where their skills, talents and accountabilities fit. Your organization will be nourished by this continually improved talent pool and increase your competitive advantage.
  • By linking mentoring to business strategy: When your mentoring program is aligned with the strategies designed to gain over competitors in the market, your employees will be able to meet or exceed the expectations of management, shareholders and customers.
  • By retaining your existing talent pool: Organizations like IBM and Nike provide structured mentoring programs for their employees. This adds a richer means of tracking employee performance while boosting productivity and innovation.
  • By beginning organization-wide succession planning before it is too late: Boomers are choosing to work later for a variety of reasons. However, at some point, they will have to go – a mentoring program now can give them the direct means for transferring their knowledge and experience to the next generation. If they are partners in the process, they will not feel like they are training their replacement. The younger generation will see that they have a future with your organization.
  • By increasing overall job satisfaction: When employees feel valued, see a future worth working toward that benefits them as much as it benefits the organization, they enjoy their jobs. Mentoring historically provides these benefits to both sides of the mentoring partnership.

A solid and effective mentoring program doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning, training and a top to bottom commitment to making it work. Most people do not have the skills to lead another person from one level of expertise to another in an efficient way.  Those skills can be learned. When mentors and mentees learn the skills together and use their mentorship meetings to practice their skills while they learn and grow in their job or profession, you can expect extraordinary growth and results.

Susan Bender Phelps is the Chief Navigator at Odyssey Mentoring, a consulting and training company that specializes in strengthening existing mentorship programs and helping clients build strong programs from the start.