Deliver mentoring that drives value for your business

Deliver mentoring that drives value for your business

An effective mentoring scheme won’t just build better working relationships between colleagues – it will produce more effective and engaged people for your business.

No doubt you have discussed workplace mentoring – you may very well have a programme in place. But is it adding value to your business? 

With 92% of Fortune 500 companies offering formal workplace mentoring to their employees, it’s certainly very topical.

However, simply offering a mentoring scheme is not the full picture. Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to create and nurture a mentoring programme that makes a real difference.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring programmes are not only important for building knowledge and skills within the workplace, they also offer employee socialisation, wider engagement and fuse relationships across the business.”

Rebekah Wallis
Director – People & CR, Ricoh UK Ltd

Mentoring is a long-term relationship between a mentor and mentee.

An accessible, human way for an individual to gain professional insight from someone with different experiences or perspectives– while also acting as a learning opportunity for the mentor themselves.

This goes well beyond just improving particular role-related skills.

 It’s a personal platform to support development across a wide range of topics, from life and social skills to things as simple and significant as friendship in the workplace.

And most importantly, it’s a two-way street. Both participants learn from each other to encourage rapid growth and exposure to a plethora of new experiences.

How does mentoring add value to your business?

There are many reasons why mentoring could help to achieve particular goals. But one factor that makes good mentoring beneficial to any business is its effect on your talent pool.

It’s a case of sharing knowledge, unlocking potential and retaining the best people.

An improved workforce, the development of skills across teams and the growth of individual talent is a fantastic return on investment.

What are the common pitfalls?

Ricoh, as part of their mentoring support, continually look for ways in which they can further improve their service.

This means analysis of the common challenges a mentoring scheme might face. Here are a few examples:

  •   Time constraints – it is important that those who join the scheme have the time to give to their mentee or mentor
  •   Poor matching – the mentor must be able to provide what the mentee is looking for. If the matching does not work, quickly identify it and find a new pairing
  •   Chemistry – the relationship between mentor and mentee must be a positive one. Trust, honesty and friendship are requirements for success

As your programme continues to evolve, your business must keep in touch with the individuals involved to monitor and quickly resolve any issues.

Ricoh provides guidance on starting conversations and holding regular check-ins to understand how each pair is progressing.

Don’t forget, feeling uncomfortable is expected. This is a process that’s designed to take people out of their comfort zone.  

How do you create an effective mentoring programme?

These are the key steps taken by Ricoh whenever they engage with the development of a mentoring programme in a business:

  • Confirm the aim of the programme and the measures for success
  • Create a timeline with key dates in place, including check-in’
  • Ask employees if they wish to participate and nominate themselves – use application forms to help find good matches
  • Match up your applicants
  •  Host a launch event/chemistry session to introduce your mentors to their mentees
  • Provide information to mentors and mentees about their role
  • Keep the momentum going by checking in regularly, sending updates and sharing stories

Get people involved.

The true power of mentoring comes from its one-to-one personalised experience.

And there’s no better way to deliver that message than by sharing success stories of previous mentoring relationships, using them to communicate the benefits to participants.

It’s important, however, to not just turn to those who you know are a good candidate for the programme. This process is about challenging bias and allowing your workforce to answer the call themselves. Reach out to a diverse range of employees and encourage everyone to learn.

Set your time frames.

Establish at the beginning how long your programme is going to last. Ricoh typically plans in a period of nine months when they help a business to benefit from mentoring.

Begin the programme with one or two meetings that allow individuals to get to know each other, then allow the meetings to get more challenging as time goes on – both mentor and mentee need to be tested. 

A clear endpoint must also be set in order to judge success, though individuals may decide to continue seeing each other once the programme ends.

Develop skills.

As well as helping others you learn to develop key skills such as listening, perspective, self-knowledge, compassion, courage, integrity and trust. These skills enable you to become a better leader.”

Rebekah Wallis
Director – People & CR, Ricoh UK Ltd

An effective mentoring programme doesn’t just develop job-related skills, but soft (or essential) skills that transcend any particular role in your business.

Ensure that you encourage participants to engage in discussions about equality, diversity, compassionate leadership and new ways of working.

A major part of the programme is to take people out of their comfort zones and provide new experiences. Therefore, participants should also see an improvement in their self-confidence, assertiveness and communication skills.

How do you determine success?

One of the main intentions of a mentoring programme is to develop your talent pool. So, an easy way to measure success is through the progression of that talent.

Another measure is engagement. How many of your employees participated in the programme, and how many dropped out?

Ricoh implements regular check-ins when they provide mentoring to external businesses, organisations or individuals, and these provide an ideal opportunity to get feedback on how the programme is going – a key indicator of progress. A closing survey and feedback session as a full group is integral to this process.

Create a positive work environment with stronger connections between your colleagues.

Supporting your mentoring programme.

A mentoring programme is not a standalone tool. Your business needs to support the growth of those involved by combining in it with coaching, networking opportunities, discussions about self-development and sponsorship. 

The future of mentoring.

As mentoring becomes more commonplace in business, and companies across the world gain a greater understanding of the benefits involved, there is no doubt that common practice will evolve. 

Indeed, trends suggest they are already becoming less organised, more fluid affairs. Mentees now begin to seek multiple mentors for different challenges as they progress through their career. 

It is likely that there will be much more peer-to-peer mentoring as the UK workforce becomes increasingly inclusive and diverse.

Techniques such as reverse mentoring are also becoming more popular, with senior leaders learning from their junior employees. 

Mentoring with Ricoh.

Ricoh have used their expertise to deliver successful mentoring programmes to a range of charities, business and independents, including the 30 Percent Club, Prince’s Trust and Sport to Business.

The stats behind our service.

As part of our 30 Percent Club programme, we gave participants a quick survey to allow them to offer their feedback and get some statistics to further improve our service.

We’re proud to state that we’ve had some excellent results and have left a positive impression on many of those involved – but we’re always looking to do more!

Here’s just some of the great feedback we received:

  •   65% of mentors and mentees felt they were appropriately matched
  •   95% of mentors and mentees agreed that commitment to be programme was the biggest factor impacting the success
  •   100% of those on the mentoring programme would recommend it to others
  •   100% of mentors and mentees felt they had gained learning from the experienced

 “I would thoroughly recommend the 30% Club programme to anyone who wants to seek career focus, who has a development area they want to work on, or who needs support following internal mentoring.”

Glenn Griggs
Direct Sales Director

If you’d like to learn how Ricoh can help you develop your talent pool and gain value from mentoring, get in touch.

Rebekah Wallis
Director – People & CR

Rebekah Wallis

Board Director - People & Corporate Responsibility and Ricoh UK

Read all articles by Rebekah Wallis