In collaboration with two of my partners we have recently conducted a survey looking at HR’s view of mentoring. The survey results certainly didn’t disappoint!

The highlight was that for those individuals wanting to further their commercial knowledge (and let’s face it, this is a priority in most HR Functions), their preferred choice for gaining this development was to have a mentor. The respondents acknowledged the power of these relationships, the learning opportunity and the potential direct outputs. Why then did only 32% actually have a mentor?

What we have discovered is that many individuals don’t know who to approach as a mentor and are not able to clearly articulate what they would like to get out of the relationship. Time is tight and there is also a potential cost implication. We are currently researching how we can make mentoring, or indeed mentors, more accessible to organisations so that these difficulties can be overcome and this need can be fulfilled. Keep in touch to find out more!

Mentoring however comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. There is one model that I have come across that is proving to be exceptionally beneficial. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to employ a highly niche mentor to help you on a specific strategic issue, or support you on a complex project?

The Career Gym is a strategic partner with Sylvia Doyle who runs Reward First® People Consulting which provides HR Directors and leaders with a tailored mentoring service around the challenging area of Reward. This is not hiring a consultant to do the job for you, but a Reward mentor to help guide your thinking, coach through options and drive tangible outcomes that leave you successful and better educated to face future challenges.

She has been kind enough to share a recent case study with us that explains her offering:

The situation: The client company is a leading provider of specialist services in the UK with clients in the private and public sector. In 2010, the HR Director faced significant challenges on their reward agenda following a recent merger. With growing scrutiny from the board and remuneration committee, the priority was to achieve a timely yet sustainable solution that was affordable.

The approach: The HR Director initially considered buying-in consultancy, though with tight financial budgets and staff reductions in the pipeline, this was not appropriate. When the opportunity arose for 1:1 reward mentoring, although a new concept, its tailored approach offered a viable answer. The HR Director used initial reward mentoring sessions to untangle conflicting reward, HR and business issues to reach an informed diagnosis and set realistic goals. Further sessions focused on the review of live issues and ‘road testing’ different scenarios and their implications on staff, shareholders and the remuneration committee.

The outcome: The mentoring was guided to the HR Director’s specific needs and resulted in a successful plan of action which was endorsed by the senior management and board. The concluding 1:1 sessions addressed the practicalities of implementation, with the 1:1 reward mentoring providing an expert sounding board with relevant challenge. While this support helped overcome the inevitable road blocks, it increased confidence and support to successfully lead and manage the challenging reward issues.

This highlights the fact that mentoring can be flexible but very targeted. One issue that people face when considering mentoring is that it can become un-focused, as most people have such a wide range of issues to deal with. Specialist mentoring such as that above enables a focused approach to supplement the HR professional’s existing level of expertise. My own view is that this model is a wonderful win-win opportunity.  Contact Sylvia through 

It’s one thing to be a mentee, but another being the mentor. …or is it?  In our survey, those that were already a mentor gave their time willingly, not only to ‘give something back’ but to actually learn from the mentee. It is such a two way relationship for both sides that the networking, knowledge sharing and development opportunities are far more balanced than one might immediately think.

Being a mentor or a mentee can be career enhancing and I would encourage anyone interested to proactively find out what benefits it can offer you.

We will be publishing our survey results shortly. If you would like to receive a copy of the report please contact Paul Deeprose via The Career Gym website.