Technology’s role in mentoring

Ed Johnson, CEO and co-founder of PushFar, discusses the importance of mentoring in education, and how technology can streamline processes

At every level, mentoring is recognised as being an effective and highly-beneficial way to educate, develop and grow. This year, more than ever before, mentoring is so vital to individual success for students, graduates, and working professionals.

Mentoring offers key support and guidance in an alternative way to traditional coaching, teaching and education. Often considered as a less formal approach to learning, mentoring can help students to learn from the experience of individuals in relevant industries and roles. Unlike coaching and training, mentoring is usually driven by the student, or mentee. It is down to them to set the expectations with their mentor, think about what they are hoping to gain from being mentored and ultimately what their objectives for being mentored are; whether these are short-term goals and support targets such as help with interview training and specific workplace challenges, or longer-term goals such as general career support and industry insights.

As the working world is shifting at a rapid rate, with the advent of new jobs and even industries mentoring is becoming more important now than ever before. Mentors can offer relevant, new and direct insight and support into these roles and industries in a real, direct and continually developing manner. For students both at school considering higher education courses, and those already involved with higher education, mentoring can help enormously. Of course, most schools, colleges and universities pour significant resources into careers advice and support departments but offering mentoring can act as a powerful additional aid.

Mentoring within companies has been proven to help with employee retention

Mentoring is already a popular technique for career development and progression, with more and more universities and colleges offering mentoring programmes, making the most of alumni connections and wider sponsorship from larger companies. And these universities and colleges are doing so with good reason. Mentoring within companies has been proven to help with employee retention, in several surveys, with a notable Deloitte Millenial Survey in 2016 showing that “Those intending to stay with their organisation for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%), compared with those that are not.”

Unfortunately, though, these mentoring schemes and programmes come with challenges, especially when it comes to the management of them. Sourcing prospective mentors can be tricky and laborious. If you are then lucky to have a large pool of prospective mentors, matching them with mentees can be an additional headache. Then, once mentor matches have been made, ensuring the mentoring relationships are working with individuals remaining engaged can be an additional manual and resource-heavy task. Finally, being able to track mentoring effectiveness and report on the mentoring relationships is tricky. Sending out questionnaires on mentoring either mid-way through a programme or at the end of it can take time to send and then review afterwards. The good news is that these challenges are being tackled by technology.

Technology is being increasingly used to allow schools, universities, companies and organisations to manage mentoring programmes in a far more resource-effective and scalable way. With mentoring software and technology, it is far easier to make mentoring accessible for increasing numbers of students, mentees and mentors. The technology available takes care of mentor matching and then allows mentor programme managers to monitor and review these mentoring relationships. What is more, the technology on the market can then take care of automated engagement with ‘nudge’ emails, reporting on targets and goals, meetings scheduled and a whole host of additional reporting data-sets too.

So, for those individuals and educational institutes looking for ways to expand existing mentoring programmes or start new schemes, consider the technology out there. It could significantly help you to make mentoring more resource-effective and accessible, as it becomes increasingly important to offer.