As organisations embed their own version of best hybrid work practices and structures, leaders continue to test new frameworks and initiatives that capture the benefits and minimise the down sides.
Cited concerns around isolation, lack of development, limited visibility and reduced cross-functional collaboration has prompted businesses to incorporate strategies that build authentic connection and performance growth.
It is precisely these metrics where structured mentoring programs can play a pivotal role, mitigating some of these core struggles and playing an integral part of the successful flexible work solution.
Extensive evidence and decades of our experience has shown mentoring is a highly effective strategy to connect, engage and accelerate learning, irrespective of the team’s location. Structured mentoring within a business or industry, provides the anchor for hybrid workplaces. It not only addresses the need for connection, development and engagement but strengthens performance and leadership skills such as self-awareness, communication, strategic insights and broadened perspectives.
Figures from our recent Stockland in-house program delivered virtually and in person, saw 86% of participants reporting improved stakeholder relationships, strategic thinking, confidence to step into new opportunities and a stronger network and profile across the organisation. Nearly 60% were promoted while on the program.
For those working remotely or flexibly, structured mentoring is a powerful support system to demonstrate the ‘how to’ and provide active learning opportunities, gain valuable fresh perspectives and constructive feedback from others outside of the immediate network. Mentors can offer a safe space for mentees to discuss stumbling blocks, ask questions, and seek advice. They can impart the organisation’s cultural values and ‘norms’, test ideas, share experiences and help navigate through complex structures and stakeholder channels.
Mentoring programs also intentionally build invaluable strategic connections across seniority levels, areas of the business or industry. Here both mentees and mentors gain rich insights through regular discussions with people they don’t normally connect with on a day-to-day basis – replicating the ‘accidental chat’ the head of operations on level two used to have with corporate affairs when they bumped into each other near the elevator.
This exchange of critical information across silos can have a measurable impact on strategy, performance, information flow and trust.
And while it’s a solution for a modern workplace challenge, the concept of mentoring is not new. It’s a tried and tested strategy drawing on core principles to retain, support and share knowledge since Greek mythological times when Odysses’ friend, Mentor, guided and advised his son when he was away at war.
We also know virtual is no barrier. With clear objectives, strategic matching, trusted relationships and commitment to growth, both parties can gain significant benefits and rewards.
So as hybrid work becomes an enduring feature of the modern remote-enabled workforce, and businesses grapple with the optimal anchor days and policy implementation, well planned formalised structures such as mentoring can leverage and enhance the experience and become a critical pillar for hybrid work success.
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