|Mentoring Makes an IMPACT on Employee Careers
By Trish Freshwater, Senior Communications Manager
Sodexo's Spirit of Mentoring is a key element of our corporate culture – it's one that helps our employees advance their careers through networking, leadership development and diverse experiences that result from the cross-divisional sharing of company and industry knowledge.
Our programs are varied, from informal to formal. Employees can seek a mentor through our employee business resource groups or they can apply for the formal IMPACT program.
The more formal IMPACT program has become a catalyst for many management careers throughout Sodexo. It is a structured, yearlong program designed for mid-level managers and above who are paired with executive-level mentors. The entire cohort comes together four times over the course of a year – once in person and three times via webinars – and each pairing meets individually throughout the same time period. In fact, the 2016 program kicks off this month in Orlando, FL, where mentees will meet their mentors and share their professional goals.
What we have seen is that at the end of the program, mentees feel empowered, become greater risk takers, and feel more productive in the areas of time management and project management. And, they feel that their ability to network or build strategic relationships increases as well – concurrently increasing the chance that participants who in the past might have only pursued opportunities within their own divisions are now exploring career options organization-wide.
Mentors benefit as well. They hone their active listening and communication skills and report that they are demonstrating improved leadership within their own teams as a result of the mentoring program.
"I am a huge advocate of the IMPACT mentoring program as a part of a comprehensive development plan," said Ted Monk, Senior Vice President, School Services, who has served as a mentor with Sodexo's IMPACT program since 2009, was a mentee in 2012, and also is the executive sponsor of the program. "The one-on-one interaction builds trust and creates a safe space for both the mentor and mentee to learn from one another. For me, IMPACT is a great way to pay it forward and to accelerate the development of our future leaders."
Through all of Sodexo's mentoring programs, participants are encouraged to create an environment where collaboration, goal achievement and problem solving can occur. The relationships built through mentoring become two-way exchanges of ideas that lead to both personal and professional growth.
How to Find a Mentor
Perhaps you're not a Sodexo employee … yet. You can still reap the benefits of a mentoring relationship! Mentors can be people you already know, people in your current organization, or even someone from outside of your company. Take a moment to think about your next dream job. Now, try to identify someone who already works in a similar position. There, you will find ideas for a mentor.
Remember, prospective mentors can say no. If you approach a professional who turns you down for a mentoring relationship, don't take it personally. You likely chose that person because he/she is a leader in the industry. But, being a leader also means a very busy schedule. Rather than feel let down, ask if he/she can recommend another colleague who may have more availability.
Once you do identify someone, define your purpose and goals for the mentoring relationship. Are you seeking someone to help in your orientation to the company or would you like to talk about industry trends and how they apply to your role? Setting clear expectations for your mentoring relationship is the first step towards building a meaningful mentorship.
Some of the most successful people have sought a mentor at a various times in their career. In fact, many executives continue to seek mentors long into their well-established careers. Some even have more than one mentor at a time! Once established, though, these relationships will encourage you to stretch and reach for your potential, to truly build your legacy and your career.