Top 10 Tips on Managing Mentoring, Coaching and Sponsorship

November 10, 2014 8:00 pm

By Barbara Frankel

How to Benefit From Coaching, Mentoring, SponsorshipWhat is the most popular story of all time on The Difference Between Mentoring, Coaching and Sponsorship.

We have reviewed best practices at companies that have used cross-cultural mentoring, coaching and sponsorship to drive engagement, retention and promotions. These companies include Sodexo (No. 2 in the DiversityInc Top 50), EY (No. 3), PricewaterhouseCoopers (No. 5), Prudential Financial (No. 8), AT&T (No. 10), Deloitte (No. 11), Accenture (No. 12), Wells Fargo (No. 17), KPMG (No. 21), Target (No. 22), Dell (No. 32) and CVS Health (25 Noteworthy Companies). Here are their top recommendations on how to make the most of your mentoring, coaching and sponsorship initiatives.

For more on this topic—and to see videos and web seminars from these companies—click here.

1. Start with a pilot program. Start small but have a focused plan to increase participation in a specific timeframe (one to two years, for example). AT&T followed this plan and was able to increase manager participation from 11 percent to 61 percent in two years.

2. Involve senior leadership from the beginning. George Chavel, President and CEO of Sodexo, cited the benefits of being part of cross-cultural (and cross-functional) mentoring when accepting our award this October as Top Company for Mentoring. The exposure of high-potentials to senior executives is beneficial for both groups.

3. Use employee resource groups to identify mentees. Dell has had significant success finding more high-potentials from underrepresented groups through the involvement of its resource groups.

4. Mandate culturalcompetence training, especially for mentors. More than half the DiversityInc Top 50 companies now do this, and many companies cite its importance to the success of the mentor-mentee relationship.

5. Measure success every step of the way. Sodexo has pioneered metrics in mentoring—including engagement, retention and promotions. The company uses these metrics effectively in its diversity scorecard, presented to senior leadership to assess progress.

6. Don’t limit efforts to corporate headquarters. Target requires that all of its managers, including those in store locations, participate in its formal mentoring and assesses that involvement in performance reviews.

7. Look at sponsorship differently but recognize its importance. Most companies don’t want to regulate sponsorship, preferring it to be organic. But to increase the prevalence of people from underrepresented groups being included, companies such as Deloitte deliberately expose senior leaders to high-potentials from these groups and insist that the leaders identify protégés.

8. Link mentoring/sponsorship success to executive compensation. To jumpstart senior-leadership involvement, Deloitte and other organizations make participation (and success of mentee or protégé) part of the executive’s evaluation and often compensation.

9. Include varied types of mentoring/sponsorship. While in-person relationships are always best, virtual relationships can work as well (phone, email, Skype). Group mentoring and speed mentoring (asking a targeted question and getting quick help) also are beneficial.

10. Don’t forget to communicate success, internally and externally. Once your employees know that mentees are more likely to be engaged and promoted, they will be much more eager to participate.