After the employee has completed orientation and in-house training, companies see the value in offering mentoring opportunities as the next step in training. Sometimes a mentor may be assigned during in-house training. A mentor is a trusted, experienced advisor who has direct investment in the development of an employee. A mentor may be a supervisor, but often a mentor is a colleague who has the experience and personality to help guide someone through processes. While mentoring may occur informally, a mentorship program can help ensure the new employee not only feels welcomed but is paired up with someone who already knows the ropes and can help guide the new employee through any on-the-job challenges.
To work effectively, a mentoring program should become part of the company culture; in other words, new mentors should receive in-house training to be a mentor. Mentors are selected based on experience, willingness, and personality. IBM’s Integrated Supply Chain Division, for example, has successfully implemented a mentorship program. The company’s division boasts 19,000 employees and half of IBM’s revenues, making management of a mentorship program challenging. However, potential mentors are trained and put into a database where new employees can search attributes and strengths of mentors and choose the person who closely meets their needs. Then the mentor and mentee work together in development of the new employee. “We view this as a best practice,” says Patricia Lewis-Burton, vice president of human resources, Integrated Supply Chain Division. “We view it as something that is not left to human resources alone. In fact, the program is imbedded in the way our group does business.” 1
Some companies use short-term mentorship programs because they find employees training other employees to be valuable for all involved. Starbucks, for example, utilizes this approach. When it opens a new store in a new market, a team of experienced store managers and baristas are sent from existing stores to the new stores to lead the store-opening efforts, including training of new employees. 2