Mentoring, Meet Technology

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For mentoring to keep up with the modern business world it needs innovation. Here are two organizations leading the charge. 

By Terri Griffith (Chair, Santa Clara University Management Department)

Having a great mentor is a significant predictor of success. Unfortunately, many mentoring programs have been limited by narrow focus, infrequent interaction, and volunteer mentors who have to “wing-it” rather than using evidence-based approaches.

We can do better.

Two organizations are leveraging social business models to provide greater depth and focus to mentoring. Everwise and MentorNet both are leveraging their extensive conventional mentoring expertise with on-line matching to more effectively reach and support their networks.

Everwise

Maynard Webb (past COO of eBay, board member at salesforce.com, Yahoo! and LiveOps, and the author of the best-selling book, Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship) recently co-founded the on-line mentoring organization, Everwise. In the Wall Street Journal, Webb writes about the importance of mentoring to his career and the research that supports mentoring for all of us. Everwise is the Match.com for career mentoring. They use data, technology, and “workforce science” to bring together mentors and protégés together.

MentorNet

MentorNet has a tight focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and takes on protégés as students.

MentorNet’s mission is to encourage the persistence and success of individuals pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), especially women and under-represented minorities, from the earliest point of interest through their every advancement.

Founded by Dr. Carol Muller in 1997, MentorNet has evolved their tested mentoring activities and matching strategies for participants used to working at the speed of the Internet.

The approach makes a difference. MentorNet CEO, Mary Fernandez, reports in IEEE Computer that in the US, 24% STEM students in the US are female, 6.7% Hispanic, and 6.7% African American. MentorNet’s participants are 67% female, 12.7% Hispanic, and 13.8% African American. Then the finale: "90% of all protégés have graduated with at least one degree (from AS to PhD) in a STEM field, and 90% persist in a STEM field three years after their MentorNet relationship.”

MentorNet recently relaunched their site with this eye-opening video based on those numbers:

Both MentorNet and Everwise find that time-bounded mentoring relationships are beneficial. Mentors can make a difference in six to eight months, it keeps the relationships fresh, and offers the opportunity for protégés to develop a cadre of supporters for their careers -- as well as offering mentors the chance to create breadth in their own networks.

I’m a big fan of Manyard Webb and serve on the advisory board for MentorNet. These are two great organizations that are working to see how human relationships can be supported through technology. I see this as a multiplier effect. Imagine the overall outcome of people in careers leveraged by better mentoring. The human, organizational, and societal benefits will be dramatic.

Could your career benefit from tech-enabled mentoring?

37c79bf773312dee0a8cee19861ed325About the guest blogger: Terri Griffith is chair of the Management Department at Santa Clara University and the author of the award-winning book, The Plugged-in Manager: Get In Tune With Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive. Connect with her on Facebook or @TerriGriffith. Photo credit: PNNL via Flickr