Academic journal article Review of Business

Accountability: Measuring Mentoring and Its Bottom Line Impact

Academic journal article Review of Business

Accountability: Measuring Mentoring and Its Bottom Line Impact

Article excerpt

Mentoring is a valuable tool for developing leadership talent, and it can have a bottom-line impact. To evaluate a mentoring program, a five-step process is recommended: 1) establish baseline numbers, 2) monitor the program, 3) measure mentoring (using the Alleman Mentoring Activities Questionnaire), 4) evaluate results and 5) calculate "return on investment. "Planned mentoring leverages a firm's succession planning efforts.

Introduction

Mentors have developed proteges since ancient times. The original Mentor in Homer's Odyssey trained his protege for national leadership and then helped him outmaneuver the ancient Greek equivalent of corporate raiders in a hostile takeover attempt.

Managing kingdoms or companies in turbulent times is a challenge. Using mentors, while not a panacea for resolving problems in the organization, can help companies deal with a variety of problematic situations. Managing effects on productivity of massive job shifts during reorganizations, developing a cohesive corporate culture in a merger, developing the potential of all employees including minorities, and reducing turnover are a few examples. While the benefits of mentoring have been recognized for years, this potent force operates entirely unmanaged in most companies.

Mentoring can be managed. Research on mentoring has shown us what a mentoring relationship is like [1,6,7,8,9,11] and has made it possible to understand, measure, manage and evaluate the relationship.

Mentors teach, guide, help, counsel, and inspire their proteges. They have a big impact not only on their proteges but also on their organizations. Many benefits (and a few potential risks) of mentoring relationships were clearly established by the early research on these relationships, and these benefits have been spelled out in a number of publications [5,8].

Early research has also looked at the nature of the relationship as described by the mentors and proteges involved. Mentoring was found to be active. Specific mentoring practices were identified which happened more often in mentoring relationships than in non-mentoring relationships [1]. Mentoring is also dynamic. It changes and evolves over time, moving through a series of stages or phases as it develops [9,11].

Alleman [4] identified specific behaviors that mentors used and variations in the patterns of mentoring practices as relationships developed. Managing behavior is a common organizational practice. Mentor behaviors can be taught, learned, managed, and evaluated, so this powerful force can be harnessed to accomplish organizational goals. Benefits can be maximized and potential problems managed. Ignoring these relationships allows them to operate uncontrolled within the organization, producing unpredictable and unmeasured results.

Benefits of a Mentoring Program

Mentors have an important impact on organizations and individuals. Research provides evidence of the benefits including higher productivity, better performance ratings, development of leaders, advancement of minorities and reduced turnover. In addition, participants acquire greater knowledge of the business, its politics, policies, products and customers. [2,3,5,12,13].

The first step in developing a mentoring program is to answer the following three questions: 1) What business issues are you trying to address (e.g., turnover, recruitment cost, productivity or some other problem)? 2) Why is addressing this issue important? Companies address issues that have a financial impact or affect the quality of the products and/or services. 3) How will the organization be different as a result of the program? For example, a more stable work force or more internal promotions may occur.

When business issues involving the effectiveness of employees have been identified, the next two questions arise: 4) Who do you want to change or develop? (i.e. who will be the proteges? …

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