4H06 Mentoring and Networking

In addition to formal management development programs, many senior managers report having had mentors at some point in their career who served as role models, translators of corporate culture or advocates. Because these relationships are generally informal, and may be initiated by either the potential mentor or “mentee,” interviews may be the only way to determine if:

  • Mentoring exists at the management levels under review;
  • Mentoring is an informal or formal program with policies and guidelines; and
  • Mentoring carries weight or is value-added in the career advancement process.

COs should also find ways to determine if there are any potential concerns regarding participation of nonfavored group members.

In addition to examining the role and importance of mentoring in career advancement, COs must also consider networking. As used here, networking is the establishment of contacts beyond one’s immediate work setting or level, or both, that confer a business benefit. Some corporations have established groups that provide a formal opportunity for managers at a given level to network across division and often establishment lines. If the corporation has such a group, COs should determine the level of managers eligible to join, and ensure that any nonfavored group member managers at that level or above are offered membership on the same basis as their peers. Other networking opportunities may be found in outside professional associations and/or social clubs. If the corporation supports membership in such outside organizations, COs should ensure that eligible nonfavored group member managers receive such support on the same basis as their peers.

Unlike formal networking, informal networking is generally interacting across establishment or functional lines with peers and higher level managers. If a corporation does not formally disseminate information on job openings or does so only up to a certain level, networking may be the prime source of information about job openings, particularly those at other establishments. Also, contacts established over time can contribute to career enhancing assignments on work projects involving other departments or establishments.

Although the general assumption is that informal networking is a matter of employee initiative, some corporations affirmatively encourage the development of such contacts among groups not currently well represented in management jobs by, for example, sponsoring meetings or establishing committees that bring together group members from different functions, establishments or management levels.

COs do have certain things to consider when evaluating the role of networking, such as:

  • Do internal formal networking groups exist? How and by whom are they administered?
  • Who is eligible for membership? How and by whom is membership extended or approved? Who monitors membership to ensure equal opportunity for all eligible employees?
  • Have there been any potential concerns regarding participation of nonfavored group members? If so, how were the concerns handled?
  • Does the corporation encourage or sponsor participation in external networking groups? If so, which ones and what form does the corporate ‘support’ take?
  • Does the corporation ensure that all eligible employees know about this option? How?
  • Who monitors the program(s) to ensure all eligible employees have equal opportunity to participate and receive the same support? Have there been any potential concerns regarding eligible nonfavored group members? If so, how were the concerns handled?
  • Does the corporation promote informal networking opportunities? How? Are there specific target groups?