Real mentorship starts with company culture, not formal programs

Real mentorship starts with company culture, not formal programs

“Mike, what’s the best way to develop junior talent?” This is a common question I hear. And one of my favorite answers is mentorship. But mentorship on its own isn’t going to work unless you have the culture at your company to support it.

Consider this scenario: you set up a formal mentor program, and encourage your more senior leadership to participate. But meanwhile, the culture of your company is inherently competitive and individualistic. So your mentorship program is set up to fizzle.

For mentorship programs to succeed, work toward a culture where every member of the organization seeks and provides in-the-moment opportunities to connect on mentorship. Instead of a formal obligation with defined parameters, encourage a culture where there are more positive “micro-exchanges” between leadership layers. An example of a micro-exchange might be a brief conversation at the water cooler about job aspirations, or a check-in before a meeting to see where colleagues need support. Even encouraging leaders (or yourself, if you’re the leader in question) to make an effort to learn the name of every member of the organization can go a long way in creating those sort of casual mentorship connections.

By Michael Barros, Managing Partner, Prestige Scientific, Inc.

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