A key building block in the construction of a formal mentoring program is the commitment of top management, according to Dr. Romila Singh. Informal programs can exist organically, but formal programs require systematic, results-oriented planning.
Mentors used to be someone you found informally — they were successful people that you tried to emulate. No one really tried to formalize the mentorship process until about 25 years ago, when the first systematic mentorship studies were published, according to Dr. Romila Singh.
But do organizations need a mentorship program? Not all successful relationships depend on formal, systematic programs. And not all forms of mentorship need to come from mentors. People find help from a variety of sources with varying degrees of interaction — coaches, sponsors, and friends can all help you through your career.
Some companies call them diversity programs, others call them inclusion programs, and still more call them engagement programs. Regardless of the name, each initiative must recruit and continue to leverage diverse workers. Recruitment itself is not enough. Everyone in the organization, from the executives in the corner office to the managers, must create an atmosphere that can harness diversity.
Cultural changes within an organization often depend on the executives, but can lower-level employees encourage cultural shifts?