The following post comes from Sarah A. Scala, a dynamic coach and consultant with over 18 years of experience in organizational development support. Sarah will present “Mentorships: The Formal, the Informal, and the Impactful at the Maine HR Convention on Friday, May 11, 2018.

Positive Use of Power: Mentor Programs Strengthen Culture and Produce Strong ROI

Who needs a mentor? It is my opinion that everyone would benefit from having a mentor. Personally, I have 3 business mentors and a 4 peer mentors. As an entrepreneur, these mentors serve as my “pseudo board of directors”, providing feedback on growth and marketing for my business. I have designed successful mentor and apprenticeship programs for companies in industries including financial services, consulting, consumer package goods, and manufacturing, that have resulted in a strong Return on the Investment (ROI).

Positive Use of Power

Mentoring is great use of power, as opposed to harassment, which is the abuse of power. We have been hearing a lot about this lately, with recent accusations of sexual harassment in Hollywood, the Government, and corporations. This topic seems to be on the top of mind of most executives, CEOs and especially Human Resource departments. Mentoring is a positive way for leaders to share and use their power to strengthen skills and behaviors, culture, moral, engagement, and the bottom line.

Mentoring Investment

Mentor programs are an investment, whether formal or informal. A good place to start is your goal. Does your business need to build skills for new apprentices? Do you have high performers with a unique skill set that needs to be shared? How about a leader who could use their expertise to help develop a newer employee? Should you build effective leaders as a part of Succession Development? Immerse new hires into your culture? We can help you answer these questions and partner with you to strategize establishment of a mentor program custom designed to support your business needs. Mentor programs will benefit the business and can cut costs, in addition to building skills and increasing morale.

Cutting turnover by 88% in One Year

For one client, we designed a mentor program to reduce high turnover of front line staff in the financial industry. After completing a needs assessment, I quickly realized that the “sink or swim” culture of customer service on the front line was leading to many new hires terminating their employment within the first 90 days. This was a large cost to the company. The mentor program was designed to train front line managers and high performing staff on how to teach and mentor. Evaluation tools were created in addition to an incentive program, rewarding the mentors for a job well done at 30, 60, and 90 days with the new mentee. By having a mentor with the new hire, skills were built faster, errors were reduced, morale at the branches increased, and the program cut turnover by 88% in the first year!

Significant Increase in Apprentice Production

Another mentor program, this one for new apprentices in a manufacturing environment, included training of high performers to be mentors and an evaluation process to give feedback and measure effectiveness. It also included incentives to compensate mentors for the pay they would be missing out due to lower production volumes when they were teaching and not producing. This program increased apprentice skill mastery much faster than past training program, ensuring the company could meet increasing demands.

Design Considerations

Effective mentor program design should include support of upper level leaders, clear expectations and goals for mentor, mentee, and leaders, training for mentors, accountability tools, evaluation methods, and recognition or incentive for the mentor. How have you used mentoring in your business or to develop as a leader? 

Originally published at