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Why Employee Mentoring Is Not an HR Tool

Mentoring should not be used to handle problem employees

The benefits of employee mentoring have been extolled for years: transmitting organizational culture, improving interpersonal relationships, and helping newcomers be successful. Because of this, some organizations view mentoring as a cure-all for their ills. Don’t fall into this trap, warned Allison McWilliams, a mentoring expert at Wake Forest University.

“I think where these programs tend to fall short is where people say, ‘We have some kind of need, mentoring programs are great, so let’s start a mentoring program,’” said McWilliams, assistant vice president of mentoring and alumni personal and career development at WFU.

Mentoring should help new employees to a field or association by pairing them with those already steeped in the environment. However, it should not be a mechanism that managers weaponize. “Everything about mentoring should be voluntary,” McWilliams said. “No one should be forced into mentoring. It shouldn’t be punitive.”

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