The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a nice article on mentoring in a recent issue (click here to read it). In it, I’m quoted at saying that mentoring “shrinks the big organizations.” This quote means that a mentoring program has the power to cross boundaries within organizations, creating connections across silos and building the organization’s social capital. When links across functions are stronger, the complexity of the organization seems more understandable to both mentors and protégés. When we conduct surveys of mentoring program participants, we often hear the growth of social capital as a great benefit to the program. An example quote from a mentor is, ” I have a better contact in another division, and have learned more business aspects of that organization.”
The focus of mentoring is usually on the development of the protégé. The added bonus of a formal mentoring program with thoughtful matching is the potential to cut across organizational walls and “shrink” the organization.