Mentoring to grow and help others grow
Mentoring at ENGIE is not new! The Group launched its first program in 2010. “Feedback we have received from some managers is that they need to feel supported in their position and role, in their advancement in the company. Mentoring presented itself as an appropriate answer to their concerns,” explained Virginie Fléchet, who heads the program.
And it has been a success: in the first five years, more than 1,000 pairs have formed. According to internal surveys, 97% of the participants are satisfied and would recommend the experience, and 60% of mentees also want to become mentors. Ambitions are ever higher for 2022: the program has extended to the Group’s 30,000 managers, with the aim of constituting 500 new pairs each year.
To reach this goal, the Group now relies on a digital platform which helps match pairs up. Program candidates can create a profile in which to share their hopes and needs. Suggestions for connecting are made automatically and based on affinities, using an algorithm. What’s next? It will be up to the pairs.
Soft skills, career choices, confidences—what do mentors and mentees talk about?
Pairs are invited to meet one to two hours a month for 6 to 12 months. For mentees, this is an opportunity to talk about their chosen topics, based on current needs: the role of a manager, leadership, conflict management, finding a work/life balance, coming back to one’s home country after being an expat… or simply a very specific situation or professional project.
Above all, mentoring is a two-way relationship that is less formal and mutually beneficial: it helps employees to become incorporated into the Group, communicate ENGIE’s position and business culture, accelerates personal development, and makes it possible to share one’s network.
For mentors, it’s a way of learning about giving feedback, and allowing others to share and challenge their experience, so they can grow into a new role.
For mentees, it’s an excellent way of being guided in their career choices. “It’s an opportunity to escape every day working life and routine tasks.Everyone grows through the experience. It helps connect and create bonds, which are precious in our ever-changing environment,” added Virginie Fléchet.
“I was fortunate to have (…) rich exchanges that provided genuine added value—advice and strategies I could test, sharing experience, and a different outlook.” Sébastien, Mentoré
Mentoring is therefore an opportunity to anchor the continuous feedback culture that is so dear to ENGIE. It provides a caring, external perspective on situations, professional choices, and career paths. “Exchanges are mainly built around soft skills. Because unlike sponsorship, mentors and mentees are not in the same business. Furthermore, they do not have a reporting relationship. And that is one of the key factors of success,” added Virginie Fléchet.
Becoming a mentor, a personal, supported process
Are we born a mentor, or do we become one? It is most likely a bit of both. At ENGIE, all mentors are trained individually. “Whether they need an hour or a day, we help them understand their role and find the right attitude, so they can best support their mentee,” shared Virginie Fléchet.
Participating in the mentoring program is a personal, non-compulsory initiative. It is intended both for new managers when they assume their duties, and for experienced managers who are seeking new opportunities for growth.
“Mentoring can be likened to a kind of spiritual journey within professional life. The experience made me feel useful at work.” Fatma, Mentor
Mentoring: a tool among others that serves managers
Mentoring is one of the many tools offered by ENGIE to support managers in their professional development. Training, coaching, mentoring… all these approaches are offered to Group managers, and are complementary: While training is centered on developing a specific skill and coaching focuses on reaching a given result, mentoring is a more personal approach. All these methods are aimed at encouraging collaboration, mutual assistance, kindness… and are all values that are an integral part of ENGIE’s culture and DNA.”
“There are no risks, only opportunities. So go for it!” Sabine, Mentor
After more than 15 years of mentoring, the Group has identified the keys to a successful mentoring program: a voluntary basis, involvement, confidentiality, and support.“Establishing a trusting relationship over time is important. Of course, we define objectives, an overarching intention, and rules, but then it’s about humans expressing and transforming an impulse into success,” observed Virginie Fléchet.