Rapid growth and constant flux are the norm in life science companies, and organizational growth, development, and knowledge-building can easily suffer in companies at all development stages. Establishing an internal mentoring program is a relatively inexpensive and effective way of managing change and growth.

Intel, known for innovative excellence, has used its mentoring program beyond traditional goals of career advancement to enable management development and knowledge transfer, problem-solving, and training new recruits. Often intermingled with coaching, mentoring's emphasis is on social and holistic personal development of an individual, whereas coaching emphasizes transfer of particular skills or knowledge. Mentors open doors, provide sponsorship, validation, and affirmation, and become energized with new ways to employ skills and knowledge. Whether they are young employees or new hires, protégés develop a beneficial network, focus on career development, and integrate into corporate culture more quickly in a mentored environment. A mentoring program aims to help...

Seven Tips for Building Your Mentor Program

1. Set goals for the program (e.g., enhancing productivity, improving employee retention, succession planning).

2. Let mentor/protégé teams self-select; paired employees should be in different chains of command.

3. Participation should be voluntary and confidentiality should be a foundation of the mentor/protégé relationship.

4. Make sure mentors and protégés take time initially to establish goals and create guidelines to measure outcome.

5. Establish regular meetings for people in the program to share progress and ideas.

6. Provide support for the program, and training and coaching for all participants.

7. Mentoring relationships of six to nine months seem to be optimal for encouraging progress without letting relationships become burdensome.

Recommended Reading:

W.B. Johnson, C.R. Ridley, The Elements of Mentoring, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Betsy Alberty heads BioEquities Recruiting, a biotech and life sciences recruiting firm in Mill Valley, Calif.


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