THE BLOG

Mentoring Culture is Good for Business

03/18/2015 03:12 pm ET | Updated May 17, 2015

"I am leaving my company," Bridgette, a very senior executive told us.

"We just don't have a mentoring culture."

In this world of GO, GO, GO productivity and massive technology dependence (of can I boldly go ahead and say, addiction), it becomes harder for people to take out time for each other. The ROI, the business case for mentoring is also not always clear to industry (ie. is it good? vs. is it good for business?)

"I just started here, and no one can explain to me how to use our Microsoft Lync platform."

"I don't know what I am being measured on and the other interns don't either. I came here for experience."

"I haven't spoke to my hiring manager yet and its been 10 days."

"Our girls need role models of women in IT."

Citing concerns such as lack of time, lack of formal programming at the company, belief that one doesn't have the skills to be a professional mentor are often cited for not engaging or saying "no" to this important role.

But the process of mentoring can be a great asset to the company. Both good for the people involved and good for the company.

In one Gartner/Wharton study, employees who mentored were promoted six times more often than their peers who did not mentor; mentees were promoted five times more; 25 percent of employees who mentor received a salary grade change in comparison to 5 percent of employees who didn't. Lastly, employees who participated in a mentoring program had a retention rate 20 percent higher than those who did not mentor, and over 68 percent of mentors and mentees stayed at the company after five years.

Experiential learning is where it's at. It's one thing to hear about the world of work, it's another thing to be swimming without a life vest in what feels like shark infested waters. A mentor can help their mentee enjoy the swim, dodge the jellyfish, jump up on a Jet Ski, and experience how not to just survive but thrive in a new career. Do you remember your first swim? Did someone champion you and help you navigate?

With the "I don't have time to mentor," concern. I can relate. This is why I am a big fan of internships and job-shadowing. I mentor about a dozen young men and women and feel our interns in the office get my best and more time. Short coffee breaks here and there work. Sure, we can sit in the conference room for 30 minutes after the staff meeting and go over your action plan for the week, vision and troubleshoot an area you are challenged.

Brandon Busteed at Gallup said "Mentor Duty is the new Jury Duty," and also taught us that there is a big big (actually huge) divide between how prepared college Presidents believe their students are for work and how corporate leaders feel.

I do believe it's our civic duty to teach, mentor and hopefully sponsor when interns come to learn. Online mentoring coupled with face-to-face works too. Thanks to our visionary CEO we hire many of these interns as part of an on-boarding strategy and we are able to test drive talent to see if a good fit for our company and culture.

And by the way, they reverse mentor me on collaboration, technology, use of social networks and so much more.

YOLO. JUST DO IT. Start now with just 30 minutes a week and I don't know how else to put it. We all want to work for a company that has a mentoring/coaching culture. Those companies will retain their workforces significantly more.

In a non-mentoring environment people tend to swim in fear, visualize the fins around, likely want to leave, or worse join the silent majority who are not engaged in their work and drift through their days. That is not good for business.

Julie Kantor is the Chief Partnership Officer of STEMconnector and Million Women Mentors. Follow her @JulieKantorSTEM

A Resource to help you get started . Here is an action guide geared toward mentoring in areas of Science, Technology Engineering and Math.