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Are you recession proofing your internal development?


Don’t want professional development opportunities in your organisation to grind to a halt from recession driven belt-tightening?

There is one option that you may have overlooked that can recession proof your internal development offering; formal mentoring.  Larry Raskin (Director of Training & Development, ADI) said it well two decades ago: “Good coaching and mentoring programs are recession-proof”.

Now I know what you are thinking, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. And while I would normally be the first to agree with you that mentoring programs have seen better days, we are not living in better days.

If you want to maintain a strong employee value proposition, retain strategically valuable knowledge, and most importantly, do so in a HIGHLY cost-effective way, then its time to give mentoring another look.

Rapid Fire: What are the benefits?

Don’t panic. I’m not going to preach a long list of benefits that come from mentoring. What I want to talk about is how you realise those benefits (more on this below). But, for a quick refresh, here are the top things to remember.

The benefits of mentoring are:

  • Greater pay and more promotions for mentors and mentees
  • Increased collaboration across silos
  • Faster assimilation of mentee’s into the organisation’s culture, vision and goals
  • Higher organisational commitment and job satisfaction in mentors
  • Increased team leadership performance in mentors
  • Reduced turnover

Phew, you made it. Now let’s get to the good stuff.

5 tactics to realise the benefits?

Like working from home, just having the ability to engage in mentoring isn’t enough for your people to realise the benefits. There are critical elements, identified in the research, that you need in order to set up a beneficial mentoring program.

(1) Matching Survey

Finding the right match between mentor and mentee is one of the most important elements you must consider. Lack of connection is a key contributor to the downfall of many a mentoring partnership. When designing your matching survey focus on more than specific skills/experience and what individuals hope to achieve from the program. Consider connection elements like work-styles and non-work interests.

Hint: Mentor candidates have often been mentees themselves. Use your matching survey to gather information on their experience.

(2) Mentor Training

The second biggest barrier to mentoring program success is a mental one. Mentors feel pressured to provide a great mentoring experience and often report feeling unqualified or unsupported. Fear of not providing an excellent experience is often enough to make mentors disengage. Mentor training is a great way to normalise the experience and clarify expectations, while also upskilling these senior leaders on how to have impactful conversations.

Hint: Mentors have usually set goals for themselves throughout their career but may not have helped others to set their own. Provide mentors a goal setting conversation guide will give them a real boost.

(3) Mentee Training

While mentee’s require no where near the level of upskilling provided to mentors, mentee training is a pivotal moment to set program expectations. Mentee’s often disengage when their expectations (realistic or otherwise) are not met. Training mentees to have an expectation-setting conversation with their mentors, ensures everyone is on the same page from the beginning.

Hint: Build in formality around the expectation setting process. Having an ‘expectations template’ that both mentor and mentee sign emphasises the importance of the process.  

(4) Boundary Management Plan

What is ok in one mentoring relationship may be over-the-line for another. While having a clear list of boundaries and expectations is helpful, if neither party knows what do to when expectations aren’t met, it isn’t worth much. As part of mentor and mentee training, ensure you educate everyone on the process you would like them to follow if boundaries are breached.

Hint: Empower the mentoring pair to discuss any breach before coming to program directors. Having a conversation framework that facilitates boundary discussions will help to resolve issues without escalation and upskill the pair in having difficult conversations.

(5) Scheduled First Check-in

Surprisingly, a common reason that mentoring pairs don’t connect is due to confusion in whom should be messaging whom first. As this delay gets longer, it gets more awkward and pairs are less likely to engage. Schedule a first check-in to make sure pairs connect.

Hint: Hosting a mentor and mentee virtual launch provides a brilliant opportunity to use breakout rooms (in Zoom), or something similar on your platform and, is a great way to ensure mentoring pairs connect.

Need help?

While I am very confident that you and your team can implement a successful mentoring program, I understand that everyone is stretched pretty thin right now. If you need help building a recession proof development offering, our team at Mapien have ready made resources for formalised mentoring programs that can support you with one or more of the critical elements I’ve just mentioned.

More professional development opportunities

If managing mental health in the workplace is something that is on your radar, we encourage you to attend our next Wellness Webinar scheduled for Wednesday 7 October 11:00 to 12:00 (AEST).

Register your interest here!

Wellness Webinar

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