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Personnel development: Mentoring

Successful knowledge transfer in your company


Knowledge is a valuable asset to any business. And even more important than the knowledge itself is the opportunity to share and build on what you already know. Older employees have a wealth of expertise and experience. Don’t let that knowledge be lost. Including mentoring in your personnel development program enables you to bring young professionals on quickly and retain valuable knowledge in your company. Read about the benefits of mentoring for your company and learn how to set up a successful mentoring program.


Definition – What is mentoring

Mentoring is a personnel development intervention. It is used to foster and nurture young talent. It is a way of transferring knowledge from someone more experienced (the mentor) to someone who wants to develop further (the mentee). Mentoring is a common tool in leadership development. Seasoned managers pass on their knowledge, their experience, and their professional contacts. They give mentees direct feedback and teach them about corporate culture, guiding principles, strategies, and visions. 

Mentoring is also a popular method for onboarding new hires or for training young professionals such as apprentices or work placement students.


The difference between mentoring and coaching

Mentoring builds a long-term, usually very personal relationship between mentors and mentees, with the two individuals exchanging experience and knowledge, ideally in both directions. Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on particular topics (time management, resilience, assertiveness) and is time-limited. Coaches are usually self-employed or work for coaching services providers. Mentors, on the other hand, come predominantly from your own company or corporate environment.


The importance of mentoring in personnel development

Mentoring is an effective tool for developing personnel. It ensures that experienced specialists pass on their valuable knowledge to younger employees who are willing to learn. In return, mentors gain an insight into the reality of life and work for the younger generation. Used correctly, a mentoring program will enrich your personnel development strategy and help your company prosper.


Benefits of mentoring in personnel development

Employee loyalty

Mentors motivate mentees and help them to overcome challenges. This ensures mentees feel they’re in good hands and quickly develop a bond with the company. Staff turnover is reduced and employee satisfaction increased.

Knowledge and experience transfer

Mentoring enables seasoned employees to exchange knowledge and experience with new or less experienced colleagues. Mentors and mentees alike benefit from this exchange. Mentors gain fresh perspectives and learn what is important to younger generations. Mentees gain new insights, knowledge, and contacts, which helps them to grow.

Knowledge transfer within the company

Mentoring allows you to retain valuable business knowledge and pass it on from generation to generation. When older employees retire from the company, their knowledge will not be lost.

Personal and professional development

Mentoring supports your employees’ personal and professional development. It enables them to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to work on these in a targeted manner. It strengthens their self-confidence and their trust in their own abilities, given them more job satisfaction and making them more effective.


Mentoring helps mentees expand their professional networks. They build relationships with colleagues and their networks. This is particularly beneficial when the mentor comes from another company. Mentees get to see things in a different light and learn about best practice. And your company could gain new partners or customers. Win-win.


Mentees get direct feedback about their work and performance, enabling them to learn much faster. Mentoring is a strong addition to your employees’ development plans, especially when it comes to soft skills development.


Compared to many other personnel development interventions, mentoring is very cost-effective. The biggest cost is the time that mentors and mentees spend talking to each other.


Risks of mentoring in personnel development

Mentoring has many benefits, but it also carries some risks that may put your mentoring program in jeopardy. Make sure your mentoring program avoids these mistakes:

Mismatched pairs

Choose mentors and mentees carefully and make sure they’re a good fit. Opposites do attract, but people should share the same basic values. A bad match will quickly bring your mentoring program to a grinding halt.

Not resolving conflicts constructively

In a close relationship like the one between mentors and mentees, there may well be conflicts. Resolve these constructively and as quickly as possible. Having a clear objective and ensuring both parties clearly articulate their expectations helps to avoid conflicts right from the start.

Overloading mentors

Mentoring programs require both parties to invest time and resources, especially mentors. Make sure these resources are in good supply, otherwise you could subject them to stress and overload. Don’t be afraid to release mentors from some of their operational duties for a while.

Making mentees dependent

Despite the great support provided by mentors, mentees should not become dependent. Make sure mentees are enabled to handle their tasks without support. Regular discussions between Personnel Development, mentors, and mentees will help you stay abreast of things.


Mentoring methods

There are different mentoring models that mentors and mentees can work with. Choose the method that best suits your business processes and your staff.

One-to-one mentoring

This approach is the most common and involves a one-to-one relationship between mentor and mentee.

Group mentoring

This is where several mentees meet with one or more mentors.

Reverse mentoring

The traditional relationship is reversed, with the mentee becoming the mentor.

Job shadowing

Mentees follow their mentors as they work, observing how they do their jobs.

Peer mentoring

Mentees support each other by sharing experiences and knowledge.


Digital mentoring

Mentoring can also take place digitally. Here, the relationship between mentors and mentees is all online. They use video chats, emails, or instant messaging to communicate. They can even use asynchronous communication for certain topics. Set up a discussion platform for your mentees and mentors. This will also enable them to talk to each other and share information.


Mentoring and eLearning

Mentoring is an ideal complement to eLearning. First, mentees learn the theory by taking part in interactive online courses. Then they gain practical experience with their mentors and are given direct feedback. Mentors also help learners use eLearning tools, and motivate them throughout the process. 

They can also be useful when you are creating in-house eLearning content for personnel development, sharing their experience and their knowledge of design, teaching, and analysis with new authors. This allows you to put together a functioning and productive eLearning team swiftly.


Mentoring in digital onboarding

Adding a mentoring program to digital onboarding is a great way to prepare your new employees for their new jobs, and to help them settle into their teams. So despite the digital technology, they won’t lose out on the social aspects. When onboarding remote teams, mentors become the point of contact for any questions and issues that may arise. They introduce new hires to the relevant technology, explain processes, and are on hand to talk.


How to: Build mentoring into your personnel development

Putting a mentoring program together can seem like a huge task at first. But once you have created the basic framework, it practically runs itself. When you have this in place, you can launch your mentoring program in four simple steps:


Prerequisites for successful mentoring relationships

There are four basic prerequisites for successful mentoring relationships. Your mentors and mentees should always bear these points in mind. Arrange regular feedback meetings to assess whether the requirements are still being met:

  • Trust and respect
  • Open communication
  • Regular meetings and clear goals
  • Responsibilities of mentors and mentees

Building a mentoring program in 4 steps

Building a mentoring program in 4 steps

1. Choosing a suitable mentor or mentee

Choose your mentors and mentees carefully. Both parties should be keen to take part in the program and be ready to open up to their counterparts. Their personal values and views shouldn’t be too far apart. If they are, there’s likely to be friction. Mentors and mentees can meet up and get to know each other—under no obligation—to see if they’re likely to hit it off.

2. Setting goals and expectations

Right from the start, set clear goals that you want the mentoring program to achieve. Take your participants’ expectations into account. That way, everyone will know what to expect from the get go.

3. Planning and preparing for meetings

In smaller companies, mentor and mentee can coordinate their own appointments and arrange regular meetings. All you need to do is say how often they should meet. For group mentoring programs, or when mentor and mentee are located at different sites, you should plan the meetings in advance. Provide space, or book a venue. If your mentoring program is digital, you should provide the necessary technical platforms and devices.

4. Monitoring and adjusting the relationship

Keep in touch with mentors and mentees to check how they are getting on, and make sure that the relationship between them remains sound. If you notice that they aren’t making progress, it is also okay for mentors or mentees to part company.


The bottom line.

Mentoring is a powerful tool for personnel development. Whether your company is onboarding new staff, building competences, or developing leadership skills, it will benefit from the synergies between mentors and their mentees. Mentoring can also be delivered digitally. You will enrich your eLearning strategy, promote the transfer of knowledge, and increase employee satisfaction.

Looking for a way to support your mentoring program with digital learning content? Then take advantage of our expertise, and benefit from the knowledge we have amassed over hundreds of successful projects.

Nadine Pedro
[Translate to English:] Nadine Pedro, chemmedia AG
Nadine Pedro
eLearning author

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