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What is the Purpose of Mentoring?

May 25, 2019

The purpose of workplace mentorship programs for the mentor, mentee and organization.

The purpose of mentoring is to tap into the existing knowledge, skills, and experience of senior or high performing employees and transfer these skills to newer or less experienced employees in order to advance their careers. Mentoring is non-evaluative, meaning that unlike performance management, the mentor is typically not a direct manager or supervisor of the mentee. The goals and outcomes of mentoring programs within organizations will differ depending on the format. For example, different format parameters include:

  • Relationship: 1-on-1 (Long term), 1-on-1 (Short term / Office Hours), Groups, etc
  • Duration: 1 session to 12 months
  • Audience: Interns, New Managers, New Employees, Diversity Groups, High Performers, etc

Regardless, the essential purpose of mentoring stays the same regardless of format. The mentor acts as a role model for the mentee, but mentoring relationships are beneficial to both parties involved, as well as for the company. 

For the mentee, mentoring can help develop new skills, build a larger network, reflect on and solve past scenarios, and have an example to look up to.

For the mentor, it serves as a way to give back and is an important development and learning experience. If you’ve ever had to explain something to somebody, you probably noticed that you have to think it through and clean up your explanation to make it easy for another person to understand. You become more competent as a mentor when you are forced to generalize your advice to somebody based on numerous experiences.

For an organization, mentoring can help mold new hires culturally, and instill loyalty in employees, thus reducing the employee turnover rate. 

Below are more details on the main purposes of a workplace mentoring program for the mentor, mentee and organization. 

Purpose for the Mentor

Develop leadership skills. Being put in the position of a role model can help mentors become better leaders and instill confidence in their leadership ability. The responsibility of helping guide someone’s career and goals requires the senior employee to teach, to motivate and to offer honest feedback in difficult conversations. All these skills are at the top of the required list for a leader.

Being recognized as an advisor. After a good mentoring session, mentees are likely to mention it to others in the organization. In little time, people will come to you for advice and doors will open for you to be inserted into leadership positions or projects. 

Communication and listening skills. If you’ve ever had to explain something to somebody, you probably noticed that you have to think it through and clean up your explanation to make it easy for another person to understand. You become more competent as a mentor when you are forced to generalize your advice to somebody based on numerous experiences.

Learn the latest thinking / approaches. While the mentor is usually in the position of imparting knowledge to the mentee, a mentoring relationship can also help the more experienced employee learn new skills. It’s common that technological advances have been mastered by younger workers. This is an area where the mentee can also become a teacher, guiding the mentor to learn new skills or a new way of doing things.

Giving back. Mentorship provides the opportunity for the mentor to give back to the company by helping train new and upcoming employees, making those around them more competent and satisfied.

Personal satisfaction and self worth. Mentoring can help increase the sense of self-worth that a mentor has because they will be able to see how their skills and abilities can help someone else. Mentoring is a huge ego boost!

‍If you’re a mentor, check out this separate blog post specifically addressing how to mentor someone.

Purpose for the Mentee

Learn the workplace culture. One of the advantages of having a mentor at a new job is that they can help you adapt to the office culture more quickly. Employees who are involved in a mentorship program are more aware of workplace routines, policies, and expectations than those who do not participate. This is an important factor in helping new hires to feel more a part of the organization.

Enhance skill development. Most mentees are looking for someone to help them advance their career prospects. Through advice and guidance, the mentor can help the employee develop their full potential in the workplace.

Networking. A workplace mentoring program is a great way for new hires to boost their networking opportunities. For many new hires, it can take months and sometimes years to get to know key co-workers. Through a mentoring program, a mentee can gain access to important career contacts sooner. This is especially true in remote work environments.

Compensation and promotion. Most mentoring programs require the mentee to consider their future direction or goals they hope to accomplish through the process. By asking younger workers to consider how they can grow through the experience, a mentoring program gives them more control over the direction of their career. Research has shown that employees who are mentored have a better career track than those who don’t. This includes receiving higher compensation and more promotions, as well as higher career satisfaction.

Problem-solving. A mentor can be a sounding board when the less experienced employee comes up against a situation or problem that they are not familiar with or can’t see a solution too. By partnering a younger employee with a more experienced one, the mentee gets to learn from the mentor’s experience.

Knowledge Transfer. The more experienced employee should have a thorough knowledge of the organization, as well as any programs or training that a mentee can access to help them reach their goals. The mentor can impart wisdom developed on the job over time, information and workplace expectations or policies that will help the mentee succeed in the long run.

Purpose for the organization

Scalable, affordable employee training. When it comes to the onboarding process, job training is often designed to help the new hire learn about their specific role in the company. Through a workplace mentoring program, a more well-rounded training can be done. By spreading the load across many mentors, you can reach each mentee individually.

Better culture. A mentoring program goes a long way in developing positive connections between co-workers, which will have a positive impact on the rest of the organization. The influence that a mentee can have on those around them can help bring a more positive atmosphere to the workplace.

Fewer skill gaps. A mentor is in a position to identify additional skills that could be an advantage to the mentee and company in the long-term. These include talents and capabilities that may not be an asset to the employee’s current role but will help them succeed in future positions with the company. Mentoring can help workers comprehend the bigger picture of how the organization functions and how their skills may apply to various roles, projects, or departments in the future.

Reputation. An organization who invests in employees through workplace mentoring programs demonstrates that the company is interested in the success of their employees. This promotes a good reputation for the company internally and externally. This will reflect in your Glassdoor reviews as well as your ability to recruit strong talent.

Reduce turnover. Another benefit of a corporate mentorship program is that it cultivates loyalty in those who are involved. As a result, this leads to lower turnover rates.

Enhanced productivity. Employees who develop a mentoring relationship are often more productive in the workplace. A study by the University of Guelph in Canada demonstrated that workplace programs like mentorship can help an employee become more productive at a new company. "Companies benefit from boosting their employees’ well-being. Helping new hires adjust at the start empowers them to achieve their potential later on," one of the professors involved in the research, Jamie Gruman, said about his findings.


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