INSIGHT - Mentoring: The Solder That Connects The Wires On Your Organisational Circuit Board
Creating effective teams in a business is like getting an electronic circuit board working. If the leader is the spark that creates the energy, then the people are the conductive wires that shoot that force around the organisation to the different functioning components. For our theoretical ‘organisational circuit board’ to function, every wire needs to be connected. As soon as one wire is not transmitting electricity effectively the circuit board breaks down. So, what is the solder that is holding these wires and components together, ensuring a strong and reliable connection? It is Mentoring.
When most people think of mentoring the image of a seasoned executive supporting a rising star fills their imagination. However, this is like just connecting one or two of the wires on your circuit board. To experience the real benefits of mentoring a company must go beyond individual relationships and have mentoring become part of the culture – where everyone is involved and connected.
Keeping Wire Attached and Belonging
Mentoring ensures that every person in your organisation feels like they belong. A recent survey by EY asked more than 1000 employees what gives them the greatest sense of belonging and connection to their employers. The highest scoring item (gaining 39% of the total vote) was ‘receiving regular check-ins from other colleagues’ (1). This was the most popular selection across all the generations. Having a mentoring culture, where every member of the team takes responsibility for supporting each other, creates an environment that people want to hold onto. With mentoring connecting your people, if you shake your circuit board upside down it is unlikely any of the wires are going to fall off!
Transmitting the Energy of Leadership
The leadership are the power pack that send a current of electricity through an organisation. In times of fast technological, economic and political change it is increasingly important that there are clear and open channels to quickly send changing currents of energy through a business. The strong bonds of mentoring ensure that the transmission of change is smooth and effective.
This is even the case if you must change the power pack itself! The UK is seeing increasingly frequent changes in company leadership; having one of the lowest CEO service lengths globally. Companies can expect their leader’s tenure to last less than 5 years, a figure that has dropped for five out of the last six years to the lowest level recorded (2). However, if you have a strong organisational culture, where the people are bonded through mentoring, it is much easier to transmit new electricity through your organisation and get your circuit board up and running quickly again.
Creating Strong Bonds
It is important to use good quality solder to connect your wires and have proficient technicians who put those bonds in place. On an electronic circuit board, if you do not invest in a good quality bond when the electricity starts flowing through the wires, and things heat up, any shoddy bonds will crack and break apart causing the board to disfunction.
For mentoring to work as the bond in your organisation that will keep energy flowing; it needs to be established correctly. Many companies understand the vast potential benefits of mentoring, but few implement it effectively. They have the circuit board and all the components but not the glue that holds it all together. Many companies introduce mentor frameworks that pair mentors and mentees together but do not train their people in the skills and capabilities they need to make these relationships successful. Training people in mentoring is vital.
Testing your circuit board
When organisations have challenges, often the first place to check is if each component is functioning and that the power pack is still supplying suitable energy. However, don’t forget to check that there aren’t lots of loose connections in the wires. Check that you have a strong mentoring culture that will ensure your circuit board continues to perform and deliver.
EY. 2019. EY Belonging Barometer. [Online]. [11 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.ey.com/en_us/diversity-inclusiveness/ey-belonging-barometer-workplace-study
PWC. 2018. 2018 CEO Success Study. [Online]. [11 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/ceosuccess