July / August 2021

Women in Pharma® Editorial: Making Mentoring & Recognition More Meaningful

Alice Redmond, PhD
Women in Pharma® Editorial: Alice Redmond, PhD

Organizations wanting to ensure the well-being and growth of their employees need to invest in robust mentorship and recognition programs. Mentoring has played a key role in my career development. In the 1990s and early 2000s, I worked in Novartis and engineering services companies where I was part of informal mentoring groups with some senior directors and trusted collaborators across the industry. This was driven by my eagerness to do different things and gain knowledge.

As part of these programs, I had open discussions that guided me through difficult and complex business situations. Over the years, I have added other mentors, which isn’t unusual—it’s natural to have different mentors at different stages of your career. This process gave me substantial insights into knowledge leadership and business strategy and has helped me on my career journey.

Successful Mentoring

Respect, trust, and commitment are three integral, interdependent aspects of a successful mentoring relationship, which is a two-way process based on shared interests, areas of awareness, focus, challenges, and career objectives. The natural outcome of any relationship based on trust is a feeling of profound appreciation for each other’s skill, knowledge, experience, abilities, qualities, and achievements.

For a mentoring relationship to drive success, it’s critical that this respect be mutual. Mentees should realize that the mentor has their best interests in mind when providing guidance. Mentors should believe that their mentee has the utmost interest in skills development and is genuinely open to guidance and self-reflection. They must treat the information shared by the mentee with careful consideration and confidentiality. Where there is trust and respect, commitment comes naturally. When the mentor and mentee commit to making the most of each other’s time and talent, their bond becomes stronger, bolstering the mentee’s professional development.

The ISPE Women in Pharma® Mentor Circles are a really good example of a successful mentoring program. The global circles are a phenomenon, growing all the time. They have helped the continued development of many careers in the pharma industry.

Recognition Programs

Hand in hand with mentoring programs are recognition programs. In fact, mentoring can be looked at as an informal recognition program to recognize and encourage the potential talents of an individual. Employee recognition programs are critical to the ongoing success of companies and are key to employee satisfaction. If you want to keep your employees happy, engaged, and productive you need to let them know that their hard work is recognized and appreciated.

Public recognition ideas may include a “shout-out” on company communications or weekly newsletter, congratulatory emails, or giving kudos on LinkedIn. Private recognition can include feedback in a one-on-one meeting, handwritten notes, or home delivery of a token of appreciation. Promotion and recognition can be achieved via a new job title, ambassador opportunity, by asking for their help or opinion, or assigning them a special project beyond their regular responsibilities. Financial awards such as pay rises or bonuses are noteworthy, but it has been proven that the intangibles are often much more important to an individual. They definitely are to me!

Good mentorship is particularly important in today’s challenging environment, where volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are increasing. During the pandemic, employees at all levels are filled with anxiety. This affects their ability to be effective in their job and personal well-being. Investing in employees under these difficult circumstances through mentoring and recognition programs is pivotal for employee well-being, engagement, and development. These provide a foundation for success.

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