Mentoring is a buzz word on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Organisations are benefiting from the knowledge transfer, leadership development and advanced on-boarding alternative that one to one mentoring provides. This increased interest raises the question: what sort of return are these large organisations receiving from installing mentoring into their corporate structure?

Mentoring as a cost saving alternative

While a primary reason to engage in a mentoring program is for the career development of the mentee, enacting a mentoring programme must still make business sense. The case for mentoring for leadership development starts and ends with the amount of funding needed to get started. To preface: Mentoring programmes take time and resources to be properly installed. However, an appropriate start to the programme allows for cost-saving benefits to be reaped.

The traditional model of workshops and executive coaching sessions are fine. If you don’t mind spending the resources to produce employees that “work” within a given system, I would consider these options. These types of programmes have their own merit and have records of success over years. But the same and more can be said for mentoring.

An in-house mentoring programme takes an initial investment of people, time and adequate funding. Its yield, however, includes: reduced onboarding time, a strengthened company brand, an uninterrupted succession pipeline, and increased productivity. Mentoring is a long term investment in the human capital of an organisation, so the cost-saving benefits only mature with the skillset of an organisation’s talent pool.

Mentoring for leadership development

The most obvious case for participating in a mentoring programme is the prospect of preparing junior employees for expanded roles. Mentoring programmes can be tailored to specific skill sets and needs of both the mentor and the mentee.

Teamwork, self-awareness and leadership are three skills that mentorships address. Working directly with more junior employees helps foster leadership ability within the mentor. Teamwork is expected of the pair as they must work around each other’s schedules and skill set to produce a fruitful partnership. Self-awareness comes in the form of both parties having a quality of assessment of where they are with certain proficiencies and how they can improve.

A quote that is usually attributed to the great American football coach Vince Lombardi states,
“Leaders are not born. They are made.” That statement’s relevancy to mentoring is simple and straightforward: If executed efficiently and properly, mentoring can cultivate the next batch of high potentials in your organisation’s talent network into dynamic leaders. Not only will they be people to create competent, consistent work without confusion, they will also be prepared to lead when their time comes to switch roles in the programme.

The idea of “switching roles” leads directly into the next point of this article.

Reverse Mentoring for senior leadership

Junior employees aren’t the only beneficiaries of mentorships. An emerging type of mentoring, penned “reverse-mentoring”, is on the rise. The premise for reverse-mentoring is simple: as the older generation of leadership travel further away from their youth, they may miss key innovations in the tech side of their industry. This, coupled with a fresher, greener perspective are key contributions that millennial employees can deliver to senior management.

Much like a traditional mentorship, the benefit is not solely for the mentee. In this case, the younger mentor typically learns critical industry information, while extending their contact base. It is expected that by 2020, millennials will make up half of the workforce. For those in senior management who would like to stay and flourish in such a workforce, the skills gathered from reverse-mentoring are essential.

Everything from social media platforms to newer industry methods are on the table for reverse mentorships. The American Association of Retired People (AARP) pushes it’s “Mentor Up” initiative in hopes of bridging the intergenerational gap. Senior managers who want to extend their careers would be wise to look into the benefits of such a programme.

The Minneapolis Tribune cites organisations such as The Hartford, PwC, Cisco and Procter & Gamble as practitioners of corporate reverse-mentoring programs. Even Facebook is participating in the Mentor Up campaign.

When it comes down to it, mentoring is more effective than it is expensive.

At Insala, we specialise in talent development software and introduce organisations to the prospect of engaging their talent capital with our human resources technology. Informal programmes make sense for an organisation new or skeptical of the concept.

When an organisation is prepared to take mentoring seriously, while reducing their long term administration costs, we equip them with the tools they need to be successful while our team provides step-by-step help along the way. We have seen a recent increase in the number of organisations implementing targeted mentoring programmes in support of their leadership development initiatives and, moreover, we have also partnered with a significant number of organisations to use our technology to allow this to happen at a large scale.





David Goggin, UK Managing Director, Insala