Mike, an experienced leader, came back to his office after an intense meeting. He had been taken off guard by the exchange he had with a couple of team members. He took a couple of deep breaths to gather his thoughts and think through what had just happened. He knew that part of what he felt was frustration at what he thought would be a simple conversation ended up with a colleague taking offense to what he had done and how he had explained it. He had acted with integrity and was unsure how the meeting had gone so terribly wrong. Through feedback he knew that people see him as a bit aggressive in his approach. He has been working on that and thought he had made some great breakthroughs. So, it was even more disconcerting to see the reaction from someone he trusted and thought he had a strong relationship with. On days like this, Mike wondered if his style was just a bad fit for this company and if he should find another place to work that valued his direct approach to work and problem resolution.
After taking some time to reflect, he reached out to his mentor to help him figure out how much of this situation reflected something he needed to pay attention to. Did he need to build additional interaction skills? Or, was this less about him and more of a reflection of his colleague’s own frustration with a difficult day? He left the discussion grateful to have a mentor who regularly served as a thought partner in his personal improvement and development. Mike knew he could count on this person to provide candid and supportive responses. Over the years Mike and his mentor have been connected, they have built a deep trusting professional relationship. Of significant importance to the company was that Mike left the conversation with his mentor feeling like he was a strong fit for the organization. The company may not have known when they created the mentoring program how much of a positive impact it could have on employee retention.
McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm that helps clients make lasting improvements to their performance and realize their most important goals. In its recent article on The Power of People Analytics discussed how it developed an approach to retention: to detect previously unobserved behavioral patterns, they combine various data sources with machine-learning algorithms. The insights have been surprising and, at times, counterintuitive. They expected factors such as an individual’s performance rating or compensation to be the top predictors of unwanted attrition. But their analysis revealed that a lack of mentoring and coaching and of “affiliation” with people who have similar interests were actually top of list. More specifically, “flight risk” across the firm fell by 20 to 40 percent when coaching and mentoring were deemed satisfying.
Do you have a mentoring or coaching program? How would you go about setting one up?
- Identify mentoring program goals and objectives
- Determine who is offered a mentor (new employees, women, people at a specific level, high-potential employees)
- Determine if mentoring should become part of an ongoing development program to support the overall development goals
- Identify who is interested in serving as a mentor
- Create mentoring processes and tools that will accomplish the program goals and provide resources to mentors
- Develop a process to connect protégés with mentors
- Pilot the program and measure successes and areas for improvement
- Refine the program
- Launch the program
Mentors provide a variety of support. In addition to sharing knowledge directly related to business, they also act as a sounding board for protégés to verbalize concerns and frustrations. As well, they also can function as a mirror so that mentees can see an accurate reflection of themselves in a non-threatening way.
Evidence supports that providing mentors to employees increases job satisfaction, greater interpersonal skills, and higher productivity. Employees who are paired with mentors also feel a stronger identity with their employer; hence, the personal investment that leads to higher levels of retention.
Maureen participated in a formal mentoring program while working for a large consulting firm. It was directed toward women because the firm was seeing high attrition rates. She found the additional access to a highly successful executive invaluable in improving my ability to increase my effectiveness.
The program needs to balance organizational goals with the cost (time and money) invested in it. When done well, everyone benefits.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.
If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.
Photo credit: www.flickr.com Nasa Appel