January 27, 2013

Mentor Programs or Mentor Culture

Doug Lawrence

Mentor Board-resized-600.jpg




I know that I have said this before, but it’s worth repeating again – it is quite evident that the topic of mentoring is becoming a more common term than what it has been in years past. I am getting inquiries now from a number of people in different countries. The message has been much the same in that they may have coaching in place but the demand for mentoring is beginning to grow. The topic of establishing a mentoring program versus a mentoring culture, along with the need for proper training of mentors always form part of the dialogue that takes place.

I thought that based on that interest and the dialogue that we are having it may be timely to address this topic once again. I know that I have stated my position on this before but it needs to be stated again. Implementing a mentor program in a culture that will not support mentoring is a recipe for failure.

“Establishing a mentoring culture is key to organizational health. It is a smart way to do business because of its power to enhance personal connections and maintain organizational vitality in the face of continuous challenge and change. Effective mentoring holds out the promise of achieving desirable results. It can improve retention, build morale, increase commitment, accelerate leadership development, provide ongoing career development, reduce stress, build teams, and facilitate organizational learning.”

The quote above says it all. It is all about the “power of mentoring”.

When you create a mentoring culture you create a learning and development organization. This fuels the needs of most employees today and actually helps in dealing with disengaged employees. The accountability shifts back to the employees in an environment where engaged, empowered and accountable employees grow personally and professionally. Negativity diminishes in the organization which will increase productivity and profitability.

I have heard a few stories the past few weeks around succession planning or the lack thereof. The main theme in most of these discussions is that there is little development of a successor being done. That leaves us with some unpleasant outcomes such as turning off the lights and closing the doors signalling the end of a legacy. Creating a mentoring culture in these organizations facilitates the ongoing knowledge transfer and positions the organization to better identify and prepare a successor. Communicating that as part of the overall strategy is very important but even more so with family owned businesses.

The topic of spending lots of money on leadership development and then not seeing the growth or the changes in behaviour that we thought we would continue to plague a lot of organizations. In a mentoring culture the growth of the leader would be supported on a regular basis through formal and informal mentoring which is part of your mentoring culture. The question of succession planning is not as ominous with this approach.

The bottom line is that there is a clear connection between a strong mentoring culture and a successful (profitable) organization. In a mentoring culture, knowledge is managed; relationships are built; growth and development are nurtured; and employees are continuously learning. Employees are better prepared to pull together, to harness and focus their energy to create momentum that raises the bar for everyone. When the bar is raised, productivity increases, and organizations - and individuals - achieve amazing results. Embrace the “power of mentoring” and a mentoring culture. Can you afford not to?


  2. Glenda Ball, Vice President Expansion and Solution Delivery,


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