Why Do Modern Mentorship Programs Pay Off In Tech?

Posted on March 2, 2022 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: Resources for Candidates, For Candidates, Resources for Entrepreneurs, DEIB

According to a survey by the American Society for Training and Development, over 75% of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career growth. Mentoring can be life-changing, and fosters lasting relationships between mentees and mentors. It’s even the secret key-ingredient to longevity in the workplace, as Deloitte Research found that 81% of employees who stay for longer than five years have a mentor that positively impacts them.

We’re taking a closer look at mentoring, focusing through a lens of the tech industry to better understand what exactly it is that makes mentoring so valuable to software developers and engineers. Whether you’re seeking a new mentor or considering implementing a mentorship program at your company, this post covers new trends in modern mentoring.

Mentoring Is A Career Catalyst In Tech

In any career, having a mentor can propel your confidence, connections, and ability to grow more than not having a mentor. When you work in an industry like tech with high-profile engineers that work hard to please clients, fix bugs, and meet deadlines, having a mentor can be the difference between dropping out or expanding your skills. According to multiple tech workplace studies, mentoring and training programs are the most effective way for companies to spike engagement and prevent those that are teetering on the edge of changing careers from leaving the industry.

This is where mentoring as part of a wider employee success strategy can help those working from home or juggling personal issues to navigate their roles and remain visible to the rest of the team. One female developer noted on mentorship, “it’s not about knowing everything; technology moves too quickly for that, but it’s about feeling secure enough to ask questions, even if you suspect you’re the only one in the room that doesn’t know the answer.”

A new study of 1,400 companies worldwide found that while digital transformation initiatives are underway, fewer than 20% have adopted modern, digital HR capabilities or platforms in areas such as coaching, mentoring, and training. As many HR departments are focusing on modernizing payroll and benefits, many of them still have not dug into implementing more modern mentorship programs despite how many studies show its long-term impact.

The good news? It was not until very recently that options for digital mentorship programs and management became low-cost, cloud-based platforms that take far less time to implement than other older programs. Plus, with hybrid and remote work policies, many are accessible from anywhere, all you need is Wi-Fi. In this, companies can try out what works best for them when it comes to mentorship programs without too much additional risk. This presents a big opportunity for tech to invest in employees and decrease churn.

203- Why Do Modern Mentorship Programs Pay Off In Tech2

A Case Study For The Power Of Mentorship

In 2007, Seattle-based technology company Chronus was started by a group of Microsoft employees who believed that the mentoring they received kickstarted their career trajectories. They took this idea and created a platform that helps manage different parts of the mentorship journey, and just last year, they raised venture funding for the very first time at $78 Million from Level Equity.

What this shows is that mentoring is in higher demand than any other time before now. Using AI algorithms to help match mentees and mentors, once matched, users can manage checklists, schedule meetings, and measure key statistics. While the company’s ongoing goal is to connect mentees and mentors in a more intentional way in general, they’ve also found that, “mentoring really helps make a difference in particularly for diverse employees. If you leave mentoring for people to do on their own, what ends up happening is people at the top naturally gravitate to people like them. And so, you end up having a homogenous group of leaders. If you’re a diverse employee, you may miss out on that opportunity if you don’t have a mentor who can help break that cycle,” CEO Seena Mortazavi explains.

He continued in his interview with BuiltIn Seattle, “Because we can track data, we can show how mentoring has actually diversified folks. People that get mentors have higher retention rates, higher promotion rates, and if you overlay a diversity lens to it, you can really back up these claims with data analytics. That’s been incredibly powerful to further justify why you need a formal mentoring program to meet these key DEI goals that organizations are so focused on, but haven’t been able to move the needle on.”

Increased feelings of social isolation paired the need for better DEI tools in the workplace have only been business accelerators for Chronus. Mortazavi adds, “there is an opportunity to continue to innovate and invest in our thought leadership in a much greater way. Part of it is preparing the industry for future-ready mentoring — because the way we’ve done traditional mentoring is not going to work with the way things are in the future.”

How Mentoring Positively Impacts Diversity & Inclusion

On that note, if mentorship is more about support than it is instruction, there are a few ways in which having a mentor can improve the sense of inclusion within your company’s culture. In fact, 91% of employees from one CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey said that having a mentor made them more satisfied with their jobs than when they did not have a mentor. Did someone say retention? Here’s a few ways that mentoring can positively impact Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace:

  • Increases Diversity In Leadership Roles- A study by Cornell revealed that the presence of mentorship programs could increase minority representation in management by up to 24%.

  • Create A More Inclusive Workplace- Mentorship is tied to authenticity. When mentors can authentically be themselves and share their experiences, this has a positive impact on others, inspiring them to bring their own unique ideas and experiences to the table.

  • Builds A Sense Of Community- If employees feel ease in communicating with one another and asking questions, this increases the team’s efficiency and ability to innovate. Having someone dedicate time to transfer their knowledge and wisdom makes mentees feel valued, reinforcing culture and a sense of community.

  • Boosts Cross-Generational Collaboration- By connecting employees at the end of their careers with emerging talent, institutional knowledge can be passed down to more novice employees. Senior team members also feel valued when they are able to pass on advice and stories.

  • Makes Your Team More Creative- Mentees who feel supported by their teammates can more confidently share their ideas and collaborate with others. This way, a flurry of fresh perspectives are injected into the product development process, ultimately leading to stronger technology solutions.

  • Nurtures A Broad & Diverse Talent Pool- Mentoring and mentorship programs created with intention automatically attract a broader candidate talent pool. When it comes to harnessing rising talent with STEM backgrounds, mentoring can be the catalyst for inspiring the next generation of developers, researchers, scientists, and engineers who will shape the future of technology.

203-Why Do Modern Mentorship Programs Pay Off In Tech3

Be A Better Mentor – Tips For Engineering Mentors

Leslie Camino, senior director of corporate leadership development and DEI at Keysight Technologies noted, “mentoring plays a strong role in developing talent, establishing connections, and advancing careers. Individuals sometimes lack the confidence, feel they need permission to seek out a mentor, or are not quite sure how to go about it. Therefore, facilitating the process through [company-wide] programs can make a big impact.”

Did you know that 70% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentorship programs? If you could ever draw a correlation between mentorship and success, this might be the measure. Put another way, the most successful companies figured out many years ago that mentorship has resounding economic impacts for companies and individuals. But what makes an engineering mentor relationship different from other industries? We’re glad you asked. Technical mentors focus on growing the mentee’s technical skills as well as interpersonal skills. Technical mentors can help their mentees expand their knowledge by:

  • Explaining the thought process behind resolving technical issues, how they write their code

  • Leading by example in time management and decision-making

  • Bringing up technical tools and methodologies and how they play into their current role

  • Helping them perform walkthroughs of code or technical instructions

  • Easing communication with clients and how their needs fit into technical projects

Each mentor approaches this process differently, but in general, technical mentors should work with their mentees to identify what they need to learn for their role, their personal goals and ideas of what they would like to learn, and above all, help them understand that you are there for them to answer questions or find answers together. If you’re in a position of being a mentor, whether for the 100th or very first time, what should you keep in mind? Here’s a few pointers on becoming a better mentor:

  • Give Tips On Productivity- Tech companies work at an accelerated pace, so it is important for technical mentors to pass on organizational processes and unspoken rules of the workplace. If given the proper support, it can be easier for new people to get up to speed.

  • Experiment With Modern Mentoring Technology- From free online tools to bigger enterprise-geared systems, there is so much virtual mentoring tech out there. These are excellent tools for sharing content, tracking goals, and increasing meetings without the logistics of meeting in-person, potentially bringing even more touch point to the mentor-mentee relationship.

  • Decide How To Communicate- Tech professionals are busy, period. When starting in a new role or company, mentees benefit from establishing communication ground rules or guidelines with their new team or mentor. Does the team ask questions over Slack? Are certain hours dedicated focus hours? Laying out a communication strategy can help mentees learn how to reach out and respond appropriately.

  • Let Them Know They Can Trust You- There’s a big difference between mentoring someone and micromanaging them. Test the waters with your mentee and work on building mutual trust. It’s likely that this person will have insights and tidbits to offer you as well. Openly encourage to approach you with any topic, and reinforce that you’re there to help them learn.

We’ve talked a lot about what mentorship can do for the person receiving help, but mentors also reap benefits from the relationship. For example, technical mentors get to:

  • Experience the rewards of sharing their expertise

  • Develop interpersonal skills in areas such as leadership and employee motivation

  • Expand their networks of engineering colleagues

  • Give back to the engineering profession

Final Thoughts On Mentoring

Mentoring and mentorship programs empower employees to feel comfortable, gain knowledge, and feel connected to the organization they are working for. Healthy mentorship relationships can also foster inclusivity, and drive innovation. There’s no question that in the highly competitive and rapidly evolving technology industry, investing time and resources into professional development through mentorship breeds long-term success.

Looking for a mentoring program? The list goes on…we looked into a few including Mentor Me from the Tenth Revolution Group and Emergent Works (both focused on tech professionals), and the Founder’s Network for entrepreneurs (based here in Denver). Alternatively, you can try searching BuiltIn Colorado’s list of companies that offer Mentorship programs here, or, read this BWBacon Post to find even more ideas on finding the right mentor for you.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!