What approach do you take to mentoring and coaching?
Since January, Societe Generale's mentoring programme has been steadily expanding in Hong Kong and across the region. It began as a pilot scheme early last year with the CEO agreeing to give business insights and personal guidance to three hand-picked employees - a recently promoted manager, a woman with boardroom potential, and a seasoned banker at a career crossroads.
The success of that initiative led to a fully-fledged scheme benefiting senior executives and up-and-coming staff.
We believe strongly in doing more to train and retain staff because of the intense competition for talent in the banking sector. Classroom training is not enough for sophisticated employees who want more exposure and to understand how senior management works. Our aim is to make mentoring available to as many people in the organisation as possible. It is a good way for senior staff to get closer to the junior levels and allows them to pass on the bank's collective intelligence to the next generation of managers.
We will use mentoring along with peer co-development, on-demand coaching and training through electronic means.
SG's culture is quite informal so we don't give out a detailed handbook to follow, just a few high-level guidelines. There is an initial half-day training session to point out what's necessary to encourage discussion and bring out talent. The key to this is explaining the need to really listen, not talk too much, and to understand the difference between mentoring and coaching. One is more general, the other focuses on a specific topic or issue.
After that, mentors are essentially left to manage things. Human Resources (HR) will check on the progress periodically, but tries not to "interfere". We do suggest that meetings take place every month to six weeks and we also stress that mentees must play their part fully. That means being well prepared before each meeting and up front about their concerns or what they need to improve. Every employee should jump at the chance to learn from someone with more experience in the business.