By Antonella Argiolas, Riccardo Basso
Mentoring was introduced at Banca d’Italia to help people take care of their own develop ment: the relationship with a senior person fosters self-awareness, a greater understandingof the organisation and the refnement of behavioural skills; in times of change or diffculty, having a ‘guide’ available is valuable in identifying the paths we can or want to take and focusing on the resources we can draw on.
Membership of the programme is voluntary. Mentors are managers. We have received many applications and have selected participants based on experience and a willingness to listen and engage in dialogue.
The mentees are highly professional people; many aspire to become managers. With a view to inclusion, we have especially promoted the participation of female colleagues and younger people.
Mentors and mentees undergo preparatory training, which explains the course and its aims; mentors are also given basic tools to guide the relationship correctly. In the middle and at the end of the process there are moments of exchange and supervision with the counselling company that assists us; mentors can contact this company at any time to ask for advice in case of misunderstandings or situations that reach a dead end.
Mentors and mentees are profled on the basis of an assessment and a self-assessment questionnaire that investigates
work-related behaviours according to a model with a special emphasis on inclusion. They can share the results of the
questionnaire at the frst meeting if they consider it useful to identify the objectives to work on.
Around 90 pairs are formed each year: it is the mentees who choose their mentor based on their profle. The only rule to be respected for the pairings is that the mentor must not have a superordinate role in relation to the mentee, because the relationship must be able to develop freely and outside of any other working relationship.
In these first 2 years, the project has gone very well: perhaps even exceeding expectations. Mentors have generously and enthusiastically contributed their experience. Mentors and mentees underline, during and after the project, that the exchange has been an opportunity for growth for both sides.
Mentees come out more aware and able to fnd solutions, often creative ones, for their professional development; they have access to new ways or reading things to help them interpret the context and the evolutionary lines of the organisation; they acquire greater autonomy and vision; they end the course with an enriched mindset that incorporates different perspectives. The mentor increases his or her listening and guiding skills and develops a more complete understanding of the organisation by looking at it ‘from below.’ Usually, at the end of the programme (which lasts about a year) the mentor and mentee will stay in touch.
For us, mentoring is a ﬂuid tool for fostering dialogue between different generations: an exchange that helps to overcome mistrust and bridge knowledge gaps; each participant shares his or her vision of the bank, of the organisation’s challenges, problems and opportunities. The perspectives of those who are rooted in the bank’s history and those who are looking at the bank with a fresher perspective, because they have only recently joined, come together in a generative way.
We will soon relaunch the programme, with more ambitious numbers and forms of reverse mentoring.