Mentoring has cemented itself in successful organisations. 71% of Fortune 500 businesses run mentoring schemes. Mentoring is now ranked as one of the top three effective talent management activities with 75% of executives saying mentoring played a key role in their personal career success.
As the awareness of the benefits mentoring can bring to business performance grows, so do the myths surrounding it.
In this short article we draw on the research to explore and debunk four of the most common mentoring myths.
Myth 1: Employees use mentoring schemes to help find their next role
Reality: Our research found that only one in ten of mentees used mentors with the objective of finding a new job, compared to nearly six in ten who did so to acquire new skills. With ‘lack of opportunity’ (20%) being cited as the main reason for individuals to leave organisations over the past 12 months, it’s a good time for businesses to rethink their approach to mentoring and consider when it can be an effective tool to plug the looming talent drain.
Myth 2: External mentors are preferred by mentees
Reality: 64% of mentees agree that an external mentor would be the least favourable option. And it’s not just employee preferences to consider. Mentoring can play an integral role in learning and development for both mentor and mentee – giving both parties a real opportunity to improve their skills which in turn offers wider benefits to the business. Keeping mentoring in-house can be a very effective approach so long as skills and attributes are aligned effectively. When it comes to an ideal mentor, mentees said that expertise (65%), strong rapport (62%) and being challenging (59%) are the most desirable characteristics for mentors to possess.
Myth 3: Mentoring is a low cost development tool that businesses with limited L&D budgets can deploy
Reality: Although mentoring can be a relatively low-cost development tool, it’s vital that businesses invest time up front ensuing mentoring programmes are designed effectively in order to get the best out of them. With 95% of mentoring participants stating that the mentoring experience motivated them to do their very best, launching a badly designed programme could impede the engagement and productivity gains that effective mentoring programmes can deliver and introduce the risk of mentors and mentees feeling disengaged and disillusioned if the programmes derail or lose momentum.
Myth 4: Only younger employees benefit from mentoring
Reality: Mentoring can be valuable to employees that want to develop new skills, strengthen existing ones, develop their career, build new relationships or get a different perspective, regardless of their age. With the increase of the retirement age to 66 by 2020, more employees are exploring different careers paths, moving into new roles, taking on new challenges and constantly refreshing their skill set- all things that an effective mentoring programme can support.