Organisations with the most successful mentoring programmes have one thing in common: a robust mentoring culture. It’s not enough to simply have mentoring in place. To be effective, your entire organisation needs to embrace mentoring, especially those in the middle to upper ranks. Instead of thinking of it as a nice-to-have, or a compulsory task; your people should consider mentoring as a driver for business growth and personal development.

What is a mentoring culture?

A mentoring culture is a shared mindset amongst your people. They should not consider mentoring as something that's nice to do. Instead, your people should see mentoring as an essential driver to business growth. And they should embrace the experience, whilst encouraging their peers and colleagues to do the same.

For many organisations, mentoring cultures are difficult to create. HR and L&D professionals spend time developing mentoring programmes and encouraging uptake. But despite the very best efforts, mentoring programmes are seen as a compulsory, time-consuming task. It’s time to change that narrative. We must develop mentoring cultures within our businesses.

How to create a mentoring culture

1. Create a mentoring programme that fits your businesses (and employees) needs

Mentoring programmes come in many shapes and sizes. You can have guided mentoring, reverse mentoring, and much more. But how do you know which approach is right for your organisation?
The truth is, there is no hard and fast rule about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when it comes to mentoring. In fact, what works for one of your employees may not work for the next, and vice versa. So to boost mentoring uptake in your organisation, it’s important to allow flexibility in how mentoring takes place.

2. Encourage open and honest communication – no matter the role

Mentoring is usually associated with a more senior employee providing help to a more junior employee. But in today’s age, this needn’t – and shouldn’t – be the case. Modern businesses know that the all employees hold tonnes of information that can fuel business growth – regardless of seniority. In fact, one example uncovered by a recent YouGov study shows that 1 in 3 employees over the age of 40 requested support for simple technology queries at least once a week from younger employees. Proving that the top-down “traditional” approach to mentoring isn’t always the best option. Instead, empower all employees to share their thoughts, tips and guidance to their colleagues. It is this open, sharing mindset that will fuel the growth of a mentoring culture in your organisation.

3. Showcase your successes

Often people struggle to imagine the impact garnered from a mentorship. Instead of assuming your people will know what they’ll gain from signing up to your mentoring programme – show them. Create a cohort of advocates that will champion your programme. Create campaigns around them, and their successes that they attribute to the mentorship. This will instil faith into the mentoring programme, and encourage a culture of acceptance and advocacy around mentoring within your organisation.

4. Develop your mentors

When considering mentorships, often the focus is on the mentee. It focuses on their development and how the mentor can help them reach their goals. But often, organisations overlook the skills development opportunity for mentors. Mentoring isn’t a skill that everybody is born with, and sometimes mentors themselves need some coaching on how to be a better mentor. By investing time into upskilling mentors, you’re ensuring that the entire programme is more successful. And the more successful the programme, the more mentoring advocates you’ll create within your organisation. Which in turn boosts mentoring culture. Win win!

But remember, creating a mentoring culture takes time…

The truth is, you will not be able to create a mentoring culture over night. Creating any kind of culture takes time and commitment. And mentoring is the same. But investing the time and energy into creating this mindset within your organisation is paramount for the long-term success of your mentoring programmes. As without a robust mentoring culture underpinning dedicated mentorships; your organisation is likely to overlook the real benefits of mentoring.