Q: What’s the best way to mentor the junior staff. We need a new system in teaching the newbies in our organization.

– Sunny Side-Up, Pasig City

A: Mentoring is just another term for the buddy system. The Japanese for example has their own version of this: the context of senpai-kohai (junior-senior) relationship that ensures a friendly working relationship between an expert and a rookie.

Mentoring is an effective approach for helping new employees adjust to his corporate environment. This period of technical adjustment is the employees’ handicap since they’re pressed for a short period of time (usually three months) to contribute to the organizational objectives. Another purpose is for them to be objectively assessed within a six-month probationary period.

Mentoring has a lot of benefits: 1. it assigns a ‘host’ who can welcome the newbie, especially when the supervisor is to busy to spend time to entertain the employee 2. questions on the job will be answered by a friend.

Maximize this system by doing the following: 1. assign a mentor on the basis of similarity regional background, university orientation or gender 2. give an incentive to everyone who participates in the mentoring program 3. set up a periodic meeting with both the mentor and his or her charge to follow-up.

Remember, mentoring is only the ladder to gather fruit from the tree of knowledge and experience. It is not the fruit itself.

R.A.H. Elbo is the managing advisor of Kairos Management Technologies and acting president of Kaizen Institute of the Philippines, both consulting and training companies.