10 Mar Virtual Mentoring : The New Frontier
Over the past several years, managers in all industries have adjusted to the phenomenon of virtual work. Blog posts and articles featured tips for managers on how best to engage the remote worker and virtual team. While many companies have adjusted to having a subset of their population as virtual employees, the pandemic of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has forced many companies to consider the sustainability of their workforce if a large population is required to work from home. In this article, we explore the necessity of proactively creating a sustainable mentoring program that is agnostic to an employee’s work location.
Virtual mentoring (or mentoring 2.0 – as I like to affectionately call it) is simply using technology platforms to help mentors and mentees engage and communicate virtually throughout the mentoring process. In our interconnected world, individuals are used to forming relationships via various technology channels, such as social media, email, instant messaging, etc. Proponents of traditional mentoring believe that virtual mentorship does not provide the same connection as face-to-face interaction. However, I would argue that a lack of connection is not a by-product of meeting virtually, but rather one of not having a clear plan and goals related to mentoring. For national and global companies, it is becoming more of a necessity to connect to talent across the organization that may not be available in the traditional office environment or in the same locations. In a 2016 Harvard Business Review article, virtual mentorship was noted to have the following benefits:
- Enhanced sets and awareness of upcoming opportunities
Increased loyalty to the organization and engagement
- Expanded innovation
- Deeper awareness of the external landscape of the organization
Organizations seeking to increase the rate in which knowledge and expertise is transferred within their talent pools should consider a virtual mentoring program. Utilizing a platform that provides instant access to talent and expertise regardless of the work location, is a business imperative. By doing so, you increase the ability to have sustainable talent development regardless of external and/or environmental factors.
Following are some examples of virtual mentoring relationships that eMentorConnect designs and facilitates programs for to produce effective collaboration, best-practice sharing and professional development:
- Field Reps and Home Office Personnel
- Personnel with similar position across functional areas for best-practice sharing
- Mentors in a location and/or division that a mentee aspires to
- Cross-divisional relationships for increased business exposure and collaboration
- Cross-functional relationships for increased career awareness
- Mentorships with leaders outside of a mentee’s reporting structure to increase candidate-readiness for future opportunities