This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 20, 2002

Mentoring Will Grow

Mentoring has been around for a long time. This is nothing new. However, the rise in mentoring is worth noting.

Increasingly, job applicants are inquiring about mentoring opportunities within the organization when they participate in job interviews. They are asking about what companies offer in terms of organized mentoring programs for new employees, as well as how the culture supports employees asking senior members of the organization to mentor them.

Today's employees, particularly self-fast-tracked younger people, now look to the mentoring process as a way to move ahead more quickly. They are eager to learn from the experience of others who have trod the paths before them. These impatient workers do not want to repeat what has been done before; they want to strike out from where others have stopped. Some want to blaze new trails, but need to know where all the old ones are first.

Protégés can be quite challenging for mentors. They can be demanding, asking for advice and tales of experience that are not often top-of-mind for busy executives. The mentoring process, with heightened velocity and expectations, forces senior people to reach deep into themselves. This process is easy for those asking, more difficult for those answering. What happens when some senior executives are exhausted and almost threatened by entreating junior colleagues? Some will respond enthusiastically; others will run for the hills. Senior people who refuse to participate as mentors may discover that their careers will be altered or ended.

The coaching movement has taken on serious momentum in the United States and elsewhere. Over 10,000 people now earn their living as personal and professional coaches for individuals. The forecast from Thomas Leonard, founder of Coach University ( is that by 2003 it will be as common to have a personal coach, as it is to have a fitness coach.

Coaching for employees will join mentoring as an expected feature of the corporate landscape. Employers will move more strongly in this direction, providing organized coaching as well as mentoring, to attract and hold top talent. The demand for advice and support will be strong.

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