Mentoring within a business is a fantastic way of getting your team to learn from each other. And it can work both ways, with senior employees learning just as much from junior employees as the other way round. When it’s done right, it can lead to far greater understanding on both sides around issues such as diversity and inclusion.
But for mentoring to be effective in achieving these goals, it needs to be done within a formal mentorship programme which pairs up people who are very different to each other, so that they can challenge each other’s views. Without a formal programme in place, mentoring will end up happening anyway on an informal basis – and that’s not good, because people will inevitably drift towards mentoring people who are just like them. They both like football, perhaps, or singing in a choir. Or they are both of the same ethnicity, or political standpoint.
That similarity won’t open up new horizons; instead it will act as a blocker to creating a more inclusive culture. Rather than introducing new ways of thinking into the conversation, the mentoring relationship will become a mirror which reflects existing views back to each participant, further entrenching established viewpoints.
When it’s done right, mentoring can have a hugely positive impact on a business and its culture. The benefits it can deliver are too valuable to be left to chance.