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Mentoring as a Valuable Tool for Employee Training and DevelopmentEssay

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Business -- Employee Training and Development

Mentoring is considered a hot trend in employee training and development, though it has been around for many years in more simplified forms. As its use has grown in business, it is found in a number of industries, which have taken and altered the mentor/mentee relationship to best suit their own purposes. Done well, mentoring can benefit the new/inexperienced employee, the older/experienced employee, their teams, departments, companies and industries. For that reason, mentoring continues to develop, even to the point at which web technology is suggested for getting the maximum benefit from this trend.

Mentoring is a trend in employee training and development that has been so successful across numerous industries that it is being constantly refined and expanded. Mentoring is "usually a formal or informal relationship between two people - a senior mentor (usually outside the protege's chain of supervision) and a junior protege" (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, n.d.). Older and/or more experienced workers have years of earned experience, sometimes through trial-and-error, teaching them valuable work methods. In addition, in the process of maintaining their jobs over the years, older/experienced workers develop work ethics sustaining them in long-term employment with a company. Therefore, younger/inexperienced workers dealing in the daily work processes with older/experienced employees can observe and adopt the experience and work ethic of the older/experienced employees (Authenticity Consulting, LLC, n.d.). As Pulakos points out, employees develop their capabilities by "training, job experiences, mentoring and other developmental activities" (Pulakos, 2004, p. 3). Simultaneously, younger/inexperienced workers bring new energy and vision to traditional work methods; consequently, the older/experienced employee can observe and adopt that new energy and vision in his/her own work. Furthermore, mentoring is not limited to new/old employee pairings; it is also used for employees whose performance is found to be substandard. Some employees now deal with such employees through performance-improvement plans, which give steps for improvement, feasible timetables for improvement and necessary mentoring for the improvement (Anonymous, Employee terminations, 2006). Furthermore, mentoring is also used to help exceptional employees move into other areas of a company: for example, experts realize the need for leadership in Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) who wish to become highly effective Chief Executive Officers (CEOs); they advocate the mentoring of CFOs by CEOs so these CFOs can move above a company's financial department and into the presidential/CEO position of a company. In that instance, a CFO brings all his financial knowledge and mentor-honed skills to the chief position of a company (Kowalski & Campbell, April 2000). Finally, mentoring is used to bridge cultural gaps in international companies. For example, Information Technology (IT) employees from the U.S. working in Great Britain have used mentoring between U.S. IT workers and British host country mentors to bridge cultural/national gaps. Here, Human Resources establishes, supports, evaluates and improves international mentor relationships to ensure the best possible transition of U.S. IT employees working in Great Britain (Woollard, 2010). In sum, mentoring is not merely for the benefit of younger/inexperienced employees; it also benefits older/experienced employees, whether they are good workers, substandard workers, or exceptionally gifted workers, and ultimately enhances the performance of the entire company.

The value of good mentoring is recognized in many industries. The Hershey Company, for example, uses mentoring in which older/experienced workers (typically "Baby Boomers") train and otherwise help younger/inexperienced workers. At Hershey, mentoring creates interactions between workers who might not otherwise interact, capitalizes on the mentor's experience and work ethic, and the younger/inexperienced worker's contemporary worldview, energy and new vision (The Hershey Company, n.d.). In addition, since Hershey is a global company and uses its mentoring program in other countries as well as the United States, the benefits of mentoring spread in the United States, Mexico, China and every other country in which Hershey does business (The Hershey Company, n.d.). Tesco PLC, an international retail company, also uses mentoring particularly in targeting key areas of discrimination; for example, Tesco maintains a network called "Women in Business" that represents and develops female workers' careers through "training, mentoring and career sponsorship" (Business Case Studies LLP, 2013). Mentors are also used extensively in the healthcare industry. For example, the nursing profession extensively uses mentors. In their view, mentors are trusted counselors or guides who are usually experienced and "well-seasoned" nurses in a new nurse's working unit/area. They assist new nurses in learning and adopting known best practices for treating patients. Meanwhile, the newer nurses bring their fresh education, energy and vision to established practices and assist the nursing profession's goal of constantly improving patient care both in a healthcare facility and across the healthcare profession (Briddon, 2008). Another example in the healthcare industry is found in the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania in association with Outcome Engineering. Here, a healthcare association is establishing and maintaining a "Just Culture" that works by "placing less focus on events, errors, and outcomes, and more focus on risk, system design and the management of behavioral choices" (The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania; Outcome Engineering, 2010). Among the tools used to focus less on blame and more on improving healthcare, the association uses "Just Culture Coaching and Mentoring" to help healthcare employees "step forward in the learning culture whenever mistakes are identified" (The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania; Outcome Engineering, 2010). The Just Culture, supported and used by the entire association, is designed to shift from a culture of blame to a culture of continual support and improvement in healthcare through teamwork. The Hershey Company, Tesco PLC, the nursing profession and The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania are merely four examples in which mentoring enhances individuals, teams, departments, companies, professions and entire industries.

The widespread success of mentoring has led to more intense focus on and improvements in the mentoring relationship. At one time, mentoring was probably a rough pairing of an older worker with a new worker so the new worker could "learn the ropes." However, the examples of mentoring in the Hershey Company, Tesco PLC, nursing and The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, show some refinements in those mentoring relationships to best benefit mentor, mentee, organization, profession and industry. In addition, high-tech developments have led to proposals for "tech-infused mentoring" (Corner, June 2012). One pro-tech advocate argues that web technology can further improve mentoring by: finding a pool of eligible participants for a mentoring program; finding the optimal mentor-mentee relationships from the group of eligible participants; guaranteeing that all participants are given uniform information about the program; developing methods to keep mentors/mentees in contact; monitoring, analyzing, and communicating the achievements of the program within the program, within departments, across the organization and ideally to the world; and designing, establishing and constantly improving the most efficient plan for a company's mentoring program (Corner, June 2012). While the author does not specifically state exactly how web technology will achieve all those steps, the rapid growth and refinement of web technology makes her conjectures quite possible. The high-tech advocacy for mentoring is just the latest effort toward improvement of an employee training and development trend that began simply, evolved within numerous industries and is still being honed for increasing effectiveness in business.

3. Conclusion

Mentoring is an old/new trend in business. Though it has probably been used in very simple forms for a number of years, it has lately been used with increasing success and refinement in numerous industries. Defined as "usually a formal or informal relationship between two people - a senior mentor (usually outside the protege's chain of supervision) and a junior protege," it has actually expanded to benefit newer/inexperienced workers, older/experienced employees, good workers, substandard workers, exceptionally gifted workers, workers who have endured discrimination, teams, departments, companies and whole industries. Four examples of mentoring are found in The Hershey Company, Tesco PLC, the nursing profession and The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, in which the mentor/mentee relationship is refined and uniquely applied to enhance employees, their teams, their departments, their organizations, their professions and ultimately their entire industries. The value of mentoring has led to advancements in the form and tools, from simple mentor/mentee relationships to, for example, "tech-infused mentoring." "Tech-infused mentoring" appears to be the latest evolution, at least theoretically proposing that web technology can find participants, pair them, give them uniform information, keep them in contact, and constantly improve their relationships and a mentoring program, in general. The proliferation of mentoring relationships in many industries and the suggestions for constantly improving the mentoring relationship show that mentoring is one of the hot trends in employee training and development.

Works Cited

Anonymous. (2006, February). Employee terminations. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from search.proquest.com Web site: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.trident.edu:2048/docview/200653775

Authenticity Consulting, LLC. (n.d.). Mentoring. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from Managementhelp.org Web site: http://managementhelp.org/leadingpeople/mentoring.htm#anchor4294744861

Briddon, M. (2008, May 12). Preceptor Place: Finding Your Way Thanks to Mentors and Preceptors. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from Stressedoutnurses.com: http://www.stressedoutnurses.com/2008/05/preceptor-place-finding-your-way-thanks-to-mentors-and-preceptors/

Business Case Studies LLP. (2013). Using diversity and inclusion to provide better service: A Tesco case study: Page 3: Engaging with diverse groups. Retrieved… [END OF PREVIEW]

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