Senior leaders misunderstand sponsorship, employees say
- Sponsors, or senior-level advocates, often misunderstand their role, according to a new study from Center for Talent Innovation (CTI). The result is that sponsors aren't performing the duties essential to sponsor-protégé relationships and all parties are missing out on the rewards.
- Of the nearly one in four employees who identify as sponsors, only 27% advocate for their protégé's promotion — the core purpose of sponsorship, according to CTI. Sponsors are missing out, too. "Advocating for rising employees, along all stages of a career, pushes your own career forward. It signals your leadership capacity to those above you — that you are committed to the organization and tuned into up-and-coming managers," Julia Taylor Kennedy, executive vice president and director of publications at CTI, said in a statement.
- In other findings, CTI noted that 71% of sponsors said their primary protégé is the same race and gender they are. This "mini-me syndrome" can work against diversity and inclusion initiatives, CTI said.
Workplace studies reveal that mentoring not only benefits the mentee with professional development opportunities, but also improves retention and engagement rates. Some data even suggests that employers may see benefits from "speed mentoring"; a pilot program for medical residents saw increased awards and publication rates.
For many companies striving to meet diversity and inclusion initiatives, sponsorship of women and minorities is top of mind. But challenges exist when the "mini-me syndrome" that CTI identified comes into play. Research suggests that minorities and women are more likely than their peers to find mentorship programming valuable for their careers and progression.
For HR and learning professionals, the CTI report suggests additional guidance for mentors and senior leaders may be necessary. Among other things, the organization suggests that HR embed sponsorships into performance reviews and create a budget for sponsorship programs.
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