Monday 16 April 2012

#BersinIMPACT: Mentoring for Career Development


   The other process area that seemed to get a fair amount of focus at Bersin Impact, other than performance management, learning / leadership development, and recruiting, was career development.  This is perhaps not surprising given that Bersin see “talent mobility as the new competitive advantage”.

For example, in the keynote from NBC News, Dana Tomechko suggested that one of HR’s main opportunities is to inspire and support employees in career development, eg helping them try something new and even stumble.  Employees often don’t have time to consider the next career move and HR can help them explore the ambiguity, understand their next steps and foster their career narratives.

To support this, NBC News HR:

  • Embraces positive irritants (people)
  • Suspends their attachment to structure and processes
  • Embraces change – even when this is undefined.


Their most interesting strategy is probably the team’s support for connecting people – often using electronic media.  Even when they meet an employee that try to share a name and make a virtual connection with another employee.

Employees are working harder and connecting less and often have no time to understand the larger team and across the HR profession we are loosing out ability to network too – but this should be at the front of the HR agenda.

NBC News seek to ask as many question as the company’s journalists, and to understand these individuals’ histories – where they have excelled, where they’ve stumbled – and to draw their stories out.

These connections and stories provide a great basis for talent mobility and career development.


However the main presentation on this topic was provided by Don Kraft, Director of Learning & Development at Genentech (Roche Pharmaceuticals).  Their career development focus has been built upon an exiting mentoring initiative, as the need for mentoring has fallen from the top three list of why people leave Genentech, being replaced by people looking for career development opportunities in the new era of flat growth in pharmaceuticals.

However, the fact that mentoring has already been in place helps.  And the success of the mentoring programme is due partly to it being confidential, levels of trust, matching being done from different organisation structures, and the mentoring action plan being focused on mentees’ learning goals.

Genentech’s CareerLab was introduced three years ago and consists of career conversations (45 minute sessions up to 3 times per year); learning labs, mentoring and career readiness assessments.

The mentoring services consist of formal mentoring programmes; eHarmony type mentoring matching and a mentoring toolkit which employees wanted to create their own self-directed informal mentoring partnerships.  The toolkit consists of tools and resources and supports a mentee driven process.  This has benefits to both the individual and to Genentech (in particular being much less time consuming than the formal programmes).

I think I was most interested in Don’s inputs on this toolkit - partly because I do think technology can provide the critical enabler that makes both mentoring and career development work, as physical mentors and coaches can often be too expensive, and paper based guides lack the easy to use functionality and retainability of an electronic toolkit.

And also because I’m currently working with a start-up vendor; Careergro; providing a new career development system which I believe will help other organisations capture the same benefits from career development as, and more easily than, Genentech.

Give me a call if you want to know more about this system, or how you can develop your own approach to career development:

  • info [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com
  • Skype: strategic-hcm
  • +44 7904 185 134



  • Consulting - Research - Speaking  - Training -  Writing
  • Strategy  -  Talent  -  Engagement  -  Change and OD
  • Contact  me to  create more  value for  your business
  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com



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