5 Corporate Mentorship Programs Worth Imitating
These corporate mentorship program examples prove the power of investing in employee development
The most recognizable organizations in the world see mentorship as a competitive advantage. When I hear about large-scale mentorship programs, I immediately think about Google, Facebook and Apple. That was until I read in a study from the American Society for Training and Development, that 70% of Fortune 500 companies boast formal and informal mentorship opportunities. That means it's not just tech companies where mentorship is a priority.
All shapes and sizes
As you read you'll see that there's no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to corporate mentorship programs. That doesn't mean you need decades of experience to build the program that's right for you. The most effective leaders custom tailor their programs around 4 basic components: Participants, Style, Format and Purpose.
Start with purpose as you build the strategy and model for your unique mentorship program. Once you establish the purpose you'll have no problem defining the other aspects of your program.
Once you define the purpose, you should have no problem identifying the participants for your program.
Depending on available resources and the goal for the program, relationships may be 1-to-1, 1-to-many or many-to-many.
Program style is all about formality. It isn't black or white. When it comes to program style it's about how much structure is right for your organization, program purpose, program participants and program format.
Whether you're on the hunt for a job with a company where employee development is a priority, interested in how your program compares, or you want to build a mentorship culture in your organization, these 5 examples should interest you.
Since the early days of the 20th Century Boeing has been a world leader in innovation. In 2015 Boeing was named one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.” To maintain their atmospheric reputation Boeing invests heavily in their mentorship programs.
“For Boeing to stay competitive, we must create the right environment that enables a successful career for every employee.” — Rick Stephens, SVP HR, Boeing
Career and Leadership Mentoring
Boeing’s mentorship programs give their 156,921 employees the opportunity to develop the career, leadership and diversity of skills they need to succeed in a dynamic global workforce.
After extensive research, Boeing established formal best practices to drive program success across their organization. Programs operate under strict parameters and defined goals. Programs even feature orientation sessions where program participants develop the skills necessary to maintain mutually beneficial relationships.
In Boeing’s Rotational Program interns and new employees partner with senior managers and executives to set career goals and plans across business, engineering, HR and IT departments.
Boeing believes that diversity is essential for success and their 1-to-1 Learning Program backs that up. Peers from a wide range of backgrounds meet 1-to-1 to expand their perspectives and learn the skills they need to succeed in a global workforce.
At the Boeing Leadership Center, future leaders are partnered with current leadership to learn the interpersonal skills they’ll need to help all employees reach their full potential.
Caterpillar's distinctive yellow construction machinery is designed, built and distributed by more than 114,000 employees. To keep their operation in peak performance, the earth moving company is committed to employee development beyond “on the job training.”
“Mentors at Caterpillar provide guidance on almost every aspect of in-house practice such as career exploration, corporate culture, “soft skills” development, organizational understanding, internal enterprise awareness, work-life balance and community knowledge.” — Jamie Meyers, Corporate Counsel, Caterpillar
Caterpillar places an intense focus on development for interns and young employees. Over the course of two to three years, program participants work to develop core skills in their focus area. Through deep personal relationships with executives and senior management, mentees also get the chance to develop advanced leadership skills.
Founded in 1888, McGraw-Hill is the oldest member of this list. The company provides educational materials for pre-kindergarten through postgraduate level across a variety of areas. To keep pace in the computer age, the company has expanded beyond print to digital content and learning technology.
It's no small task to turn a ship that large around. McGraw-Hill’s robust mentorship programs are one way they're working to maintain their spot as an education power house for another century.
“Participant research has revealed that cross-segment learning and collaboration is one of the main benefits of the program.” — Sue Stanek, Menttium Senior Consultant
Broaden Perspective and Leadership Development
To broaden perspectives across more than 20,000 employees in 38 countries, McGraw-Hill draws from a variety of business units and countries to form the core of their mentorship program.
Like Boeing, McGraw-Hill knew that program success for such a large organization would come down to execution. To make sure the program produced results, McGraw-Hill's Women's Initiative for Networking and Success conduct extensive research to develop formal best practices.
McGraw-Hill partnered with Menttium Corporation to ensure a flawless execution. According to this case study from Menttium, consultants partnered with senior leadership to define goals around leadership development, thought leadership, broadening perspectives and more.
Never ones to "set it and forget it." McGraw-Hill conducted internal research to measure the success of their programs. The results are encouraging. Close to 100% of participants said they would recommend the program to a friend and 88% say that their perspectives of different business units has grown.
The 51-year-old company is headquartered in Paris, France, which makes them the only European organization on our list. Their almost 500k employees are spread around 80 countries and 34,000 sites. To ensure efficient knowledge sharing in a diverse workforce, Sodexo implemented a formal mentorship program in 2009.
“For me, IMPACT is a great way to pay it forward and to accelerate the development of our future leaders.” —Ted Monk, SVP School Services
Offered to all employees in the US, Sodexos three-part Spirit of Mentoring Program is built to facilate knowledge transfer and career development.
Sodexo describes the program as "an opportunity to help one another develop through collaboration, goal achievement and problem solving." They go on to say that "mentoring is a developmental partnership through which partners share perspectives as they foster personal and professional growth."
In the IMPACT program, long-lasting partnerships are forged where mentor and mentee develop relationships that continue past the formal end of their program.
During the informal Bridge and Peer-Peer Programs, frontline managers and new hires come together to share best practices, development opportunities and to spread diversity through the management level.
If you play social games, chances are you've come across Zynga. Founded in 2007, the company's headcount is now close to 2,000 employees. To build the “next generation of social games,” Zynga knows they'll need to serve young developers and project managers. To make sure students fresh out of school reach their full potential, Zynga has built a robust mentorship program.
“Zynga’s management philosophy is to turn people into CEOs.” —Mark Pincus, Zynga CEO
Recent graduates start with a 1-week intensive program designed to get new employees up to speed. Over the next six months, employees are exposed to a variety of focus areas. Once participants graduate from the program they get the chance to make important decisions about which team they'll join.
Students within two years of graduating can participate in Zynga's internship program. During the program interns receive all the benefits of full-time employees while they explore personal projects and build their professional networks.
Recommended Reading: The Basic Anatomy of Any Corporate Mentorship Program