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Why Employee Mentoring is Better (and Easier) than Cloning

Mentoring and Cloning

Why Employee Mentoring is Better (and Easier) than Cloning

It’s time to turn your rock stars into culture champions through employee mentoring.

Every once in a blue moon, you’ll come across a very special employee. Your team may use words like keeper, rock star, and hero to describe them. Staffers work harder around them, and their productivity runs circles around Joe Average. If they reported to you, you probably uttered the phrase, ‘I wish I could clone you’ – and sincerely meant it. However, cloning is currently impossible, and also fraught with all kinds of ethical dilemmas (Does the clone have the same name as the original? Do they have the same birthday? Do they share a marital status?). Happily, we can neatly sidestep all of this with the next best thing: mentoring.

Look to Michelangelo

MentoringSo, you’ve concluded that mentoring is preferable to cloning. But now you have to create a mentoring program – who has the time? The good news is that there are ways to create mentoring programs that require minimal oversight. For example, have you heard of the “Michelangelo Phenomenon?” It’s a phenomenon observed by psychologists where interdependent individuals influence and ‘sculpt’ each other. The term is most often associated with romantic relationships, but can also ring true in the workplace. According to the Michelangelo Phenomenon, achieving goals and being the best we can be is optimized through the relationships we have at work with others. And, it’s your clone-worthy rock stars who can help others to grow and develop. So, what can you do to bring the Michelangelo Phenomenon to life at your workplace, and why should you?

The cost of not investing in employee mentoring

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), a Virginia-based nonprofit focused on workplace learning and professional development, more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have some type of mentorship program. Why? It’s hard and expensive to find and retain good employees. In fact, conservative estimates place the average cost to recruit and train a new employee at about 50 percent of an employee’s salary. Starting a mentoring program as part of your retention and engagement strategy allows you to capitalize on your greatest asset – your employees.

ATD also tells us that the number of companies offering mentoring programs has held steady since the mid-2000s, and the nature of mentoring has shifted to better align with today’s workplace. Decades ago, formal mentoring relationships routinely lasted at least a year and informal ones might even span a decade. Now, mentoring arrangements are shorter and more task- and specialty-oriented. There’s also growing recognition that mentors don’t have to be levels above the people they’re mentoring to be effective. Many senior leaders, for example, realize they have much to learn when it comes to digital technology or social media.  

Ultimately, creating a mentorship program is an investment in your team’s future. It maximizes resources and enforces company culture. It shows that a company cares about its employees and promotes a more engaged workforce which all points to greater job satisfaction.

And please… Do not attempt actual cloning

Mentoring is about creating new personal connections that can go a long way when your top performers are considering what their next career step looks like. And there’s no reason starting your own program has to be as laborious as sculpting David – especially when you start with an automated program.

And let’s face it, mentoring really is a lot less creepy, and time-consuming, than cloning.

Liisa Andreassen

Liisa is a freelance writer and editor. She has a strong background in writing about management, marketing and HR technology. She also has a passion for connecting people – personally and professionally.