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Mentoring and Development is changing for good

How diversity and talent teams are delivering mentoring and development programs in the age of remote working

As remote working changes from a ‘blip’ to a permanent feature in our lives, business leaders and their talent development teams are searching for effective ways to better keep employees engaged and to put their increasingly urgent diversity agenda into action.

One strategy—mentoring and development—may be the answer, but to be successful it needs to be shaped around the new reality of a remote workforce.

Remote working is not the remedy many of us thought it would be

While the idea of working from home may have been a dream for many people, the reality is often more of a nightmare. Many feel a sense of isolation and that they are trapped in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ as one day merges seamlessly into another. A recent Forbes article highlights this issue, noting that it can be a destroyer of human relationships. The fast, sustained shift to remote working has left many of us feeling lost and disconnected from our team members and our businesses.

Traditionally underrepresented talent is being hardest hit

According to Accenture, those hardest hit by these changes are people with disabilities and those from ethnic minorities and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. In the short term, as these groups become less engaged, companies are likely to be hurt because they’ll see less discretionary effort. Without institutional changes, these groups are more likely to drop out of the labor force, get furloughed, or even become redundant.

For business leaders, the impact of remote working is worrying—not only because of an overall workforce that’s less engaged, but also because those from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds are being hardest hit. The result is a risk of increasing the diversity opportunity gap instead of closing it.

Mentoring and Development as a force for good

We know that company mentoring and development initiatives help employees feel more engaged, improve retention, and open up new career opportunities (Wharton). And, for traditionally underrepresented talent, it’s a way to launch specifically-targeted programs to directly support them and help them to better realize their potential (Forbes).

The challenge is that, in the remote world, it’s tough for diversity and talent teams to launch, track, and manage mentoring and development programs across their organizations as the realities of being geographically dispersed take hold. What we need is a new approach to mentoring and development.

A new model for inclusive development

Successful talent development teams have abandoned trying to manage mentoring and development using email, spreadsheets, and random conversations with often poorly matched mentees and mentors. They understand that this approach simply isn’t scalable and, ultimately, is likely to end in either only partial success at best or become one of the many company initiatives that never see the light of day.

Instead, what these companies have adopted is a new approach that is built for teams working remotely. It can easily be managed at scale across the whole organization. And it looks very different from the old development model:

Away from constrained classroom-style mentoring/training:

  • In-person learning
  • Managed with email and spreadsheets
  • Restricted to small, select groups and difficult/impossible to scale
  • Administrator-managed where the administrator has to do all the ‘heavy-lifting’ and running around to try and make the program work
  • Hard or impossible to measure outcomes directly

Towards open ‘anywhere, anytime’ to career development:

  • Anywhere learning where mentors and mentees meet virtually at a time that suits them
  • Run through a technology platform that automates difficult tasks like inviting participants, matching mentors and mentees, goal-setting, and progress tracking
  • Easy to scale to everyone in the organization who wants to participate
  • Self-managed by the mentors and mentees with guidelines set by the administrators
  • Easy to measure and optimize

Technology is the key enabler

The key to this approach is technology that gives us the ability to launch, run and manage programs at scale. It also makes it easy to do all those typically hard to manage activities like matching mentees with mentors, organizing meeting schedules, and identifying success metrics.

So, as more leadership teams recognize that it is their people who are their key competitive differentiator in a technology-driven world, they find themselves once again looking to technology for a solution to put mentoring and development programs that work in place across their own businesses in the time where everyone is remote.

Learn how world-leading Content Collaboration Company, Box, developed under-represented talent, creating new opportunities and progression, through a scaled mentoring program using the my2be platform.

Ready to talk? Get in touch with us today to learn how my2be can help you put your diversity and inclusion initiatives into action.