The ultimate guide to mentoring for talent development

Written by
Femme Palette
Published on
July 8, 2022

Mentoring programs are becoming increasingly popular in companies as a powerful tool for talent development. There’s been a lot of talk about mentoring for employees, and so it can understandably be hard to navigate this sea of information. This ultimate guide to mentoring for talent development will provide you with the necessary knowledge to start building a mentoring program in your organization. You will find out:

  • What is mentoring and how it works
  • Why mentoring works great for talent development
  • Why mentoring is a trend in leadership development
  • The difference between internal and external mentoring
  • How to bring mentoring to your company

Mentoring for talent development 

More and more companies are either designing their own internal mentoring programs or reaching out to companies to provide mentors for their employees externally. Let’s take a minute to look at the difference between internal and external mentoring.

Internal vs. external mentoring

Mentoring within the company (internal mentoring)

To kick off the Internal Mentoring program, the company needs to be aware of some facts in advance – the company will need resources to build its own mentoring program, connect mentees with correct mentors, and organise feedback sessions to check the success of the program. Depending on the company's structure, HR or Learning & Development teams can act as program owners.

Does the company's size matter? Very much. The bigger the company – the more exciting matches there can be between mentees and mentors. Additionally, a company that is multicultural and has employees from different backgrounds can benefit more from internal mentoring, as there will be a wider choice of experts with different approaches.

The downside comes when the company can't allocate additional resources for planning the proper Internal Mentoring program. It's also important to remember that internal mentors are being selected from the internal teams, meaning in some cases, there can be a limited overview of the area, sometimes biased by the company itself and its industry.

However, when the company activates the Internal Mentoring program, it becomes a great development tool for both mentees and mentors. The program is free of charge for the employees, and this way, anyone can focus on their professional skills and develop themselves within the company. It's one of the best career development tools, supporting the employees' engagement and commitment.

  • Benefits: Free for the employees; Supporting cross-department collaboration; Increasing employees' engagement and commitment; Boosting company's morale; Supporting employees' professional development.

  • Downsides: Needs company's resources to build the program and maintain it; Can provide limited knowledge share in case of the smaller company; Can be biased as mentoring is happening within the same company; Provides little or no networking options.

Mentoring from outside the company (external mentoring)

External Mentoring can be a good start for a company interested in a mentoring program, mainly if it can't invest time and resources internally. The only help needed from the company will be a person who'll coordinate the initiative and keep track of expenses as it's a paid service.

An External Mentoring program can be implemented in companies of any size and with employees of any cultural backgrounds. This way, the company is not tight to some limitations and can activate the mentoring program when it's relevant. It's possible to benefit from the flexibility and adjust the program's duration based on the company's budget allowance.

While internal mentoring develops employees in both mentees' and mentors' roles, external mentoring is focused on developing the company's less-skilled employees who'll get a mentee's role. However, some programs include the option for more skilled employees to enroll in the program as mentors and help employees from other companies.

Overall, external mentoring can bring a fresh perspective compared to an internal one, where the company's rules and its limits are already known. Being from another company and even industry, external mentors can provide an out-of-the-box solution and share new approaches to the previously considered processes.

  • Benefits: Company doesn't need to allocate resources for the mentoring program setup; Flexible solution relevant for the company; Duration and amount of mentors can be adjusted; External mentors from other companies and areas bring a fresh perspective; A broader network of experts outside of the company.

  • Downsides: The program is paid compared to the free internal mentoring; Doesn't support cross-department collaboration.

The benefits of mentoring in the workplace

Whether you choose internal or external mentoring as the best option for your company, you’ll begin noticing the benefits of it. What are some of the top benefits of mentoring? Let’s take a closer look at five of them.

1. Productivity boost

The most significant impact of mentoring on businesses is the boost in productivity. Having an experienced fellow professional to talk to can not only help the beginner employees discuss their fears and answer difficult questions, but also inspire the ‘newbie’ to thrive and constantly improve on the job.

2. New perspectives

A mentor can be either a more senior member of the team or an external business professional. The advantage of an external person is that they can bring a new perspective and a broader spectrum of experience to the company. On top of that, external business mentors are trained and are thus guaranteed to deliver the best possible service. 

As a beginner employee, having a role model helps overcome initial obstacles and stay motivated in the long term. A mentor not only holds their charge accountable, but also shares their knowledge and experience from the field, but not necessarily the same company, which can enrich the mentee’s business and inspire them to bring new ideas to the board. 

3. Team spirit

Mentoring provides a chance to get to know other team members and get an in-depth understanding of the company’s culture. Mentoring facilitates open and honest conversations that pave the path for building strong and high-quality relationships with colleagues. A strong team performs better, is more productive, and less stressed (read more in Harvard Business Review). Therefore, running a mentoring program at work should be in the interest of every team leader, entrepreneur, and a business person.

Regular mentoring sessions also improve the ability to give and receive feedback. That is a crucial step in improving existing processes and introducing different new ways of solving problems and overcoming challenges. 

A valuable contribution of mentoring is also in understanding one’s responsibilities and learning on the job. As a beginner employee, speaking to someone more senior in their role can jumpstart one’s career and help them more quickly become a valuable asset to the team. 

4. Building culture

Alongside higher productivity, mentoring also enables a smoother transfer of feedback - both giving and receiving. Mentoring encourages a healthy work culture where everyone is inspired to share their ideas and present their perspectives. It creates a more equal environment where workers feel valued, recognized, and appreciated for their efforts. 

For the company, a loyal and dedicated worker means a higher retention rate and fewer resources spent on training and recruitment. Mentoring also boosts satisfaction in the team and mutually inspires both the mentors and the mentees to thrive at work. 

5. Personal growth

Mentoring is a learning curve - not only for the mentee but also for the mentor. Mentors are business professionals who, through mentoring, have the chance to develop their leadership and communication skills. 

Mentor’s role is to hold their charge accountable whilst helping them achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams. A successful mentor educates their mentee and can then become a great asset to the company.

Mentoring for leadership development

Mentoring is one of the major trends in leadership development which you should definitely focus your attention on. Mentorship helps leaders discover their strengths and effectively work with their weaknesses to become better role models for their teams.

Although companies do invest in leadership development, there are a number of reasons why leadership development programs often fail to fulfill their potential. According to a 2014 McKinsey study, some reasons for this can be overlooking context and understanding leaders’ mindsets. Simply put, companies are not making clear WHAT they want from their leadership training, and WHO the leaders involved in it are. By combining focusing on the individual with keeping in mind the company’s strategic goals, mentoring programs for leaders make sure that these two common mistakes are much less likely to happen.

Mentors can help leaders explore topics such as:

  • Team culture
  • Self-confidence and Imposter Syndrome
  • Empathy
  • Authentic leadership
  • Being an inclusive leader
  • Challenging unconscious biases and stereotypes
  • Establishing and developing feedback culture
  • … and many more. 

As was mentioned, each leader has the opportunity to focus on their individual needs and grow in their own unique leadership style. Just like with any other employee mentoring program, a company can choose to have its leaders mentored either internally or externally. However, in order to provide leaders with a new perspective, it is strongly recommended to consider an external mentoring program before making the big decision.

Mentoring is also a great way to support a company’s efforts towards more diverse leadership. By empowering mentees and giving them equal access to growth opportunities, leaders can emerge from a wide variety of groups and backgrounds. A good mentoring program for leaders should go beyond just focusing on building skills - it should also empower the underrepresented to give them a firm place in the new generation of leaders.

Mentoring for companies by Femme Palette

Looking for an easy and functional solution to how to find the right mentors for your employees? Empower your them and let them grow with Femme Palette’s Mentoring program for companies! This program uses highly personalized 1:1 mentoring to ensure each employee has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

3 reasons why the Femme Palette Mentoring program is the best option for your company:

  • We have a mentor community of 700+ professionals from around the world. Thanks to that, we’re able to match each employee with the perfect mentor. Mentors join our community through a highly selective assessment process, and our global mentor community includes experts from a wide variety of fields who work in companies like Google, Spotify, Microsoft, Uber, Twitch, Amazon and many more!

  • Our Mentoring program is tried and tested and has already benefited employees in a number of companies. Read more about their experiences in case studies here and here.

  • You don’t have to design and run the program yourself - we’ll take care of it! Our team will match your employees with their mentors, get them ready for mentoring in our ‘How to be a good mentee’ workshop, and keep you posted on their progress. 

Learn more about our Mentoring program for companies here!

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