Experts believe that mentorship is the most effective training mechanism for grooming new candidates for future leadership roles. This is even more so in South Africa, where skills shortages and increasing competition make recruitment a challenging feat. A global educational and workplace survey conducted last year to determine the work-readiness of graduating students indicated that mentorship can go a long way towards bridging the disconnect between new staff and their employers' expectations.
According to Ian Yoell, Edexcel's African Regional Director, employee mentoring programmes are becoming increasingly popular in corporate environments as well as SMMEs. He explains: "At the forefront of vocational training and workplace preparedness, we recognise the distinct advantages mentorship offers to both the company and the person being mentored. As organisations impart wisdom and provide support through a process of advice and feedback, individuals are encouraged to identify and pursue their aspirations, maximise their strengths and make their own best decisions."
Showing growing popularity in recent years, mentoring is a powerful means of helping people make important personal transitions. International trends reveal that nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have coaches and mentors. Further research shows that mentoring is 400 per cent more effective than traditional training.
Speaking about a local educational programme that incorporates mentoring, Yoell comments: "Edexcel recently partnered with Southern Africa’s largest food and beverage distributor, Pioneer Foods, to pilot the world’s first qualification for staff to develop effective behaviours at work. This collaboration is testament to the potency and necessity of mentoring within South Africa’s corporate landscape."
The advantages of mentoring programmes to the company include:
• The opportunity for each staff member to learn the job role from someone who is more experienced
• Providing quality on-the-job training for those who are being mentored
• Employees improve current skills and focus on developing new skills
• Fast and effective training rather than waiting for a new staff member to come up to speed
• Accurately identifying those individuals who are ready to grow and to take on more responsibility
• Consistency that comes with knowing that staff are dedicated, successful and ready to rise to the occasion when asked
• Studies have shown that employees that are mentored stay in the job longer than those that are left on their own.
"Those who are being mentored benefit from learning about their new position as well as their specific industry in an effective, interactive way, while mentors are able to connect with new staff members and foster community within the office," says Yoell.
Meanwhile, advantages to the employee include:
• New staff are able to make a connection with established employees
• Learners are able to get questions answered and support when they need it
• Mentoring gives employees, both mentors and mentees, the opportunity to be more productive than either could be individually
• Mentoring provides an avenue for employees to find resources and answers to problems, empowering employees to resolve their problems themselves.
Mentoring in the workplace creates a very successful and driven environment – an environment that is focused on collective success for the company and employees. Mentoring programmes enable management to look at the skills that a prospective employee has as well as the skills that he or she is able to develop over time. Companies that recognise the talents of their staff will know the necessary leadership skills that need to be developed and will find that they are able to promote staff effectively from within.
Notes to editor:
Edexcel, a Pearson company, is the UK's largest awarding organisation offering academic and vocational qualifications and testing to schools, colleges, employers and other places of learning in the UK and internationally. The company operates in more than 85 countries with 9 million examination scripts completed every year.