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People who have been on the protege side before often make good mentors, says Dawn Plimmer, the associate vice president of learning and performance at Nationwide Insurance.

How to match up promising junior talent with mentors?

At Nationwide, human resource executives found themselves over-thinking the matches according to technical discipline and personality.

Now, they’ve made it much more random, and it works better.

Here's how IBM, Nationwide Insurance, and other companies create lasting programs that pay off.

IBM emphasizes a “give back, reach back, and pull through” culture, where mentoring is an expectation of all employees and vital for collaboration, innovation, and maintaining institutional knowledge. Hold seminars on mentoring and host networking events that encourage people to find their own mentors.The benefits don't stop with proteges: People who mentor often are more productive, better socialized, and less stressed, Scandura says.They also tend to develop a loyal network of supporters, gather valuable perspective from younger employees, and gain insight into other parts of the business.Will it be new recruits, managers, or promising young leaders? If you hope to use the program to aid recruitment, seek out those who like teaching younger people.If your goal is to groom the next generation of leaders, then team them up with top-level managers.

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