January 19, 2013

Mentoring Continues to Grow!

Doug Lawrence






I am excited each time that I pick up a newspaper or a magazine and reference is made to the use of mentoring in an organization to meet a number of business challenges. I am excited each time that I have a conversation with a colleague or a client and we talk about the “power of mentoring.” Organizations are turning to mentoring to assist them in dealing with an aging work force, talent shortages, lack of succession planning and succession development, leadership development, leadership talent shortage and disengaged employees. In the majority of meetings that I am having with colleagues and perspective clients the topic of mentoring is resonating loud and clear. We still see a lot of organizations that are holding back and not embracing the “power of mentoring” for a number of reasons. Sadly the slow decision making process may ultimately be the downfall for some organizations.

I met with some colleagues this week and was reassured from our conversations that the “power of mentoring” was alive and working well for them in their interaction with people within the organization. Leveraging the Socratic Method was moving them further down the path of creating an engaged and empowered work force. As we all know, telling people what to do can and will make them dependent on us and creates a work place of complacency. When you have employees that are not engaged or empowered they will sit and wait to be told what to do. This shifts the accountability from them back to you. Productivity and profitability will decline.

An article entitled “Mining offers a solid career potential” published in the Leader-Post today reflects on the job opportunities that are available today and the demand for talent that will be in existence by 2021. There will be a need for 112,000 workers of which one-third will be in the skilled trades. The potential is there for this to grow to 140,000 should exploration projects and potential mines come to fruition. The article went on to mention that management occupations are always a challenge to fill because of skill requirements and a shortage of middle management mentors. I would add that those mentors should be trained mentors. Mentoring programs fail due to lack of corporate support, lack of structure, lack of training and a culture that does not support mentoring. Far too often mentoring is implemented in an organization as the flavor of the month and when that happens the program is being set up to fail. It is reassuring however to note that the industry does recognize the value of mentoring and how its absence has such an impact.

Mentoring can and will work in any industry. Imagine adopting mentoring as a strategic objective in your industry and creating an industry with a mentoring culture. Your ability to recruit new talent would increase. Our youth who are your current and future talent pool look to organizations that have a mentoring program and/or culture in place as criteria for applying on jobs in that organizations. We experienced that very same thing in the construction industry. We advertised that we supported and maintained a mentoring culture. A candidate was asked what attracted them to apply on a particular position and the response was due to the organization having a mentoring culture. That is the best endorsement your organization could ever obtain.

On the recruitment front, I see from an article in the Leader-Post that drawing on CEO candidates from outside an organization has increased. It is obvious from this article that the recession as it relates to the organizations surveyed for this article had an impact. Recruiting and succession planning were scaled back during the recession time. I would also suggest that the development of any internal CEO candidates likely was not happening either. What we have seen is that the majority of organizations that have a succession plan have just that – a succession plan. There are not any plans for the development of successors that have been identified in the succession planning process. There has not been any effort to mapping out the knowledge transfer challenges and for adding that piece to the development plan. When the incumbent walks out the door so does all that corporate knowledge. When I hear of organizations that have not done any succession planning or have parked the planning for other priorities I become very concerned. I worry that they will not leave that legacy and may ultimately close their doors. Would the last person leaving turn out the lights!

No matter the industry, no matter the size of organization that you are in, there will always be a place for mentoring to assist in enhancing productivity and profitability. More importantly mentoring will assist your employees in their personal and professional growth. Your organization will reap the rewards of having a mentoring program/mentoring culture in your recruitment and retention efforts. You just need to take the first step and embrace the “power of mentoring!” Can you afford not to?



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