The benefits for junior employees of having a mentor are well-studied, but why would a senior staff member want to take on that role? On top of the “feel good” factor of paying it forward, a new study from Catalyst shows there are real monetary advantages to being a mentor.
It benefits not only protégés but leads to career advancement and compensation growth for those providing the assistance—$25,075 in additional compensation between 2008 and 2010, according to the report.
“We now have hard numbers to put on the benefits of paying it forwards. We found that high potentials that were developing others advanced further and faster and earned more,” says Catalyst senior director of research Christine Silva. “It’s great evidence that can help us encourage people to really focus on developing others. It’s a triple win for the person being developed, for the sponsor themselves and for the organization creating a culture of sponsorship.”
Silva speculates that those who mentor others are more visible within the company and are proving their leadership abilities, including identifying and developing talent. This recognition leads to promotion and added compensation.
Catalyst, which lobbies internationally to increase the number of women in leadership positions, also found that men tend to support men and women support women – about 70% of mentors were developing someone of the same gender.
However, previous studies show that both men and women benefit from having a mentor of the opposite gender because of the varied view point it exposes them to, Silva says. “We would encourage men and women to build diverse sponsorship relationships.”
Because most senior roles are still held by men, it was important for women to seek out people in those roles for advice and development. The most effective mentors were those in more senior roles, and studies by Catalyst showed gender was not as important as seniority.
For an organization, developing a sponsorship culture can tie in with standard processes such as succession planning.
“Sponsorship results in more committed, effective leaders and teams and creating a culture of sponsorship helps make talent spotting everyone’s responsibility,” Silva says.
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