Mentoring Matters: Impactful Relationships Build Better Workplaces 1

By David Williams
President & Chief Executive Officer, Genesys Works

“We partner with Genesys Works because mentoring is part of our culture, and this is a great opportunity to work with good mentees. We get the opportunity to reach out to talented young men and women and help them learn the skills we value in our future employees.” – Matt Brincefield, Manager, Penetration Testing Team at Kratos and Genesys Works Supervisor

 

It was the spring of 1983, and I was on the Board of Directors of the newly-created Houston Food Bank. It was a tumultuous time — we had been kicked out of the national food bank association, shut down temporarily by the City of Houston Health Department, didn’t have money or food, and our third Executive Director in a year had just resigned.

The founder of the Houston Food Bank was a man by the name of Bert Bandini, who had worked with the poor for decades. A humble leader, he reminded me of what it must have been like to work with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In his own gentle way, he encouraged me to consider joining the food bank on a full-time basis, which I did. As Chairman of the Board, he was a steady ally, mentor and encourager. Bert was a major factor in my decision to join the nonprofit sector.

Can you think of an individual who has impacted your life so much that you would not be where you are today without them? Chances are this person was a parent, teacher, coach, boss or other role model in your life. They likely provided you with support and guidance, or perhaps helped you better understand yourself and set goals for your future. Whether you realized it at the time or not, these are the hallmarks of a powerful mentoring relationship.

A mentor can help their mentee envision where they want to go and develop a plan to get there. They can also teach them practical skills, such as business etiquette or public speaking. Mentors are advocates and champions. At Genesys Works, our mission is to provide pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities. We do this through skills training, meaningful work experiences and — impactful relationships. Mentoring is core to our mission and a key part of our win-win-win model, which benefits Genesys Works interns, employees who supervise them and the companies for which they work.

THE FACTS ARE OVERWHELMING: MENTORING WORKS

  • Research has consistently validated the positive impact of mentoring young people:
  • It has been proven to boost attitudes toward school and school performance, self-confidence and parental trust.
  • It has been proven to decrease risky behavior and encourage good decision-making.
  • Girls with mentors are 2.5 times more likely to be confident in their academic performance.
  • Boys with mentors are three times less likely to suffer from peer pressure and two times less likely to develop negative behaviors.
  • Youth in a mentorship program are 46% less likely to use drugs than their peers, and having a mentor increases a student’s likelihood of going to college by 50%.

For Genesys Works interns in particular, the mentorship they receive from their supervisor at work is also an opportunity to expand their network and cultivate a lasting relationship with someone they can call upon in the future. Many interns have had experiences — like Jacinda — who says of her two former supervisors at Accenture: “I have confidence in knowing that even after my internship ends, I’m able to pick up the phone and talk to them about anything.”

Mentoring is a two-way relationship, though, and mentors also benefit from the mentor-mentee relationship. The most obvious benefit is the opportunity to make a lasting impact on another’s life. According to Mary Hermocillo of Texas Children’s Hospital, who supervised Genesys Works intern Emerance in 2017, “One of the greatest benefits to come out of the internship for me is seeing her growth and her confidence level increase.”

From a professional growth standpoint, being a mentor is a great way to practice coaching skills – a perfect development opportunity for an aspiring people manager. In addition, mentoring can have a company-wide impact by enhancing employee job satisfaction, fostering teamwork, offering a professional development opportunity, improving staff retention, developing leaders and increasing employee engagement.

REMARKABLE CHANGES OCCUR

Genesys Works is a transformational program that attracts students who are eager to grow. Many students enter our program lacking confidence, but they emerge as self-assured young professionals. Take Immanuel, for example. On his first day as an intern at PG&E, he was “dressed meticulously, had a tie on, was very polite, and was so engaged” according to his supervisor, Marianne. But on the inside, Immanuel didn’t feel so confident. A Bayview native, he struggled to envision himself or other people like him in a corporate environment. Slowly but surely, with the support of Marianne, he has blossomed into an impressive young professional who fellow PG&E employees often approached as an expert in his field. “Since interning at PG&E, I’ve matured. I feel like I can do something positive.” Immanuel wasn’t the only one to grow through his internship. Marianne shared that not only has she seen firsthand the business value of these young, motivated interns (“he does half my job!”), but, “I’ve been amazed at what I’ve learned from Immanuel and the other interns I’ve worked with. They tend to see things differently than I do and it’s refreshing and eye-opening.” Marianne’s perspective is validated, even at leadership levels within her company. Jesus Soto, Jr. is the Senior Vice President of Gas Operations, and a champion of the program. “Genesys Works interns have helped our company and employees as much as we have helped them, and I am proud to work for a company that recognizes the value of giving our youth opportunities to thrive,” Jesus said.

How do these remarkable changes take place for so many of our students? The 200+ hours of professional and technical skills training certainly plays a part. So does the self-efficacy they gain while working for a major corporation in a meaningful internship, performing tasks ranging from hardware installation to quality assurance and so much more in between. But I would argue that the 1000+ hours our interns spend working alongside their supervisor plays the biggest part in their transformation.

Partnering with an organization like Genesys Works can provide you with a simple first step toward enriching your company culture through all of the benefits that mentorship brings.

 

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About Genesys Works

Genesys Works provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships. Our program consists of 8 weeks of technical and professional skills training, a paid year-long corporate internship, college and career coaching, and alumni support to and through college.  Our goal is to move more students out of poverty and into professional careers, creating a more productive and diverse workforce in the process.  Since its founding in 2002, Genesys Works has grown to serve nearly 4,000 students annually in Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington’s National Capital Region.   To learn more, visit genesysworks.org.

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