Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Business Case For New Mentoring Tools

I recently visited with the enterprising minds behind MicroMentor, a derivative of Mercy Corps.  I don't participate in their program but they offer a good value proposition to anyone seeking mentoring via social media.  Entrepreneurs pressed for time now have another option besides SCORE.  They can also share knowledge with peers at Startgrid.  The good news for proteges seeking financial inclusiveness just keeps on coming.

The advent of microfinance and microenterprise means mentoring must adapt to changing times.  The Aspen Institute's FIELD program documents the latest data on how microbusiness sectors adapt.  Aspen has tons of other programs too numerous to name here that can help.  Mentors who need ROI trackers for their board service and volunteerism need look no further than True Impact.

A web search of topics covering mentoring reveals a ton of open-source research on personal mentoring for disadvantaged youth.  The research on mentoring within a business context is often behind the paywalls of academic journals or held in the private databases of consultancies.  The best open-source business cases for mentoring are in the Society for Human Resource Management's research and tools.  Searching SHRM's site for variations on the word "mentor" reveals everything a good manager needs to know.

The existing literature on mentoring has some gaps.  Mentoring disadvantaged youth makes sense from a humanitarian standpoint.  Finding a mentor at work has potential payoffs in the time-honored tradition of riding a superstar's coattails.  The HR coursework I recall from my business studies showed that formal mentoring programs often lead to mismatches.  There is room for disruption in mentoring.  Social media enablers like MicroMentor and Startgrid are natural evolutions in business relationships.