In a Harvard Business Review article, W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith argue that an organization’s culture, not specific mentoring programs, is most important in developing leaders.
Among their observations:
“Here is the problem: Mentoring programs typically rely on single mentor-mentee matches, pairings that by nature are quite formal and hierarchical, when all the evidence shows that many employees — especially women — prefer mentorships with a more reciprocal and mutual character. Single mentors are also less career-enhancing than robust developmental networks or mentoring constellations. What’s more, even the best mentoring programs are unlikely to achieve intended outcomes when the surrounding workplace is competitive and individualistic, and when senior members of the organization only engage in developing junior talent when pursued by a prospective mentee or “voluntold” to participate in formal program.”
“Mentoring programs alone won’t sufficiently engage or develop your junior talent, especially if your culture doesn’t encourage mentoring on a regular basis. What your company needs instead are mentors-of-the-moment.”
Among their conclusions:
“Genuine mentoring values and daily mentoring behaviors must be embedded in the workplace DNA. Not only can mentor-of-the-moment exchanges offer a less-threatening alternative to an assigned ‘relationship,’ they also fuel inclusion. Actively engaging colleagues with diverse experiences in frequent, transparent, affirming conversations may be less daunting than a formal assignment, especially when it is a clearly articulated performance expectation.”
To read the whole article, please hit this link.