Connect Younger Stars with Seasoned Executives

Building and Sustaining a Mentorship Culture

There are many reasons that establishing and fostering a mentorship culture is important in today’s workplace.  If your organization wants to be competitive, you must keep abreast of technology that directly or indirectly supports your products and services.  Mentors can help others stay current with technology.  Customers constantly want better, cheaper, easier – and are very savvy about locating vendors who can provide them with products and services they desire.  Mentors can help others stay current with leading-edge trends and customer demands.  There is heightened competition for skilled workers, especially for Millennials who know what they want in the workplace.  Millennials want coaching and mentoring.

From working with organizations of all sizes and types around the world over the past 25 years, I’ve observed that a mentorship culture provides a recruiting and retention advantage; supports succession planning; networking opportunities for individuals and the company as a whole; and improved morale.

It’s not difficult to understand the why behind mentoring.  The challenge is finding people who have the willingness and competencies to serve as excellent mentors.  Some of these key competencies include active listening; goal setting; patience; ability to provide constructive feedback; and creativity.  If you’d like a complimentary self-assessment on mentorship competencies, feel free to email me at

There are many knowledgeable, smart potential mentors in each organization.  Often, these people could rise to the level of mentor if they are educated around how to answer one question with regard to developing their mentees:  Is the challenge to the mentee’s advancement a skill deficiency, behavioral issue, or are there systemic organizational barriers that need to be removed.  In order to take advantage of a mentorship effort, mentees must have willingness; ability; and the means to succeed.

I believe that at the heart of a successful mentorship initiative is a set of specific, measurable goals, both for the overall company-wide effort and for each individual mentor-mentee team.  The goals that are established should be widely communicated and tied to results that positively impact the company and its customers.

Many mentor efforts fail because the organization doesn’t plan ahead to recruit competent mentors (from inside or outside the company); does not set realistic expectations for mentors, such as length of time for the mentor-mentee relationship; and makes no efforts such as recognizing success to sustain initial momentum.

You’ll know you have momentum if you observe some of these essential hallmarks of an effective mentorship culture:

  • Accountability for sharing, teaching, and learning
  • Alignment of mentor efforts with the Mission, Vision and Values
  • Communication of objectives and successes
  • A pipeline of excellent mentors

A mentorship culture is one of ongoing learning, which promotes employee engagement and subsequently retention.  The investment in time is critical for your company’s success in today’s fast-paced global marketplace.

Source: Linda Gravett, Ph.D. SHRM-SCP, CEQC

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Jackie Messersmith is President and CEO of Talent Management LLC. Talent Management provides consulting services to small to mid-size businesses to put a top performing culture and talent strategy in place, and is the developer of Talent Snapshot®, an integrated, competency based, online talent management solutions. Jackie can be reached at 513-528-9700 or