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National Mentoring Month, the annual nationwide campaign to promote mentoring in the U.S., led by a coalition of public and private organizations and celebrated in January, has particular relevance to SHRM Certification. For SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP credential holders, mentoring is an indicator of proficiency in the HR competencies and functional areas. Participation in a mentorship program also qualifies for recertification credits because of its value in advancing the HR profession.
Begun in 2002, National Mentoring Month increases public awareness of the need for volunteer mentors to help America's youth reach their full potential, and of the many ways available for individuals to get involved. The event is spearheaded by the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency; MENTOR—the National Mentoring Partnership, a nonprofit organization; and the Harvard Mentoring Project, an outreach effort by Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Partners include United Way of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Points of Light Foundation/Volunteer Center National Network, USA Freedom Corps, My Brother's Keeper, and many other participants and sponsors.
SHRM Certificants Know the Value of Mentoring
The SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (SHRM BoCK) refers to mentoring generally in the two sets of proficiency indicators listed for each behavioral competency and functional area of HR expertise. The indicators relevant to "all HR professionals" also apply to "advanced HR professionals," as more experienced practitioners are expected to mentor their less experienced colleagues in developing the behaviors to implement those competencies and perform those functions.
Two functional areas within the HR Expertise (HR Knowledge) technical competency of the SHRM BoCK specify mentoring. The Learning & Development functional area is part of the "People" knowledge domain, and one of its key concepts is "Approaches to coaching and mentoring (e.g., formal, informal mentorship programs)"; that is, coaching and mentoring programs are among the activities HR professionals are expected to know how to design and implement. The Diversity & Inclusion functional area is part of the "Workplace" knowledge domain, and all HR professionals must be able to provide "mentoring, training, guidance and coaching on cultural differences and practices to employees at all levels of the organization" to indicate their proficiency in it.
The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP recertification process recognizes mentoring as an activity that advances the profession. Participating in a formal mentorship program is considered an aspect of volunteering, which helps build one's leadership capabilities and other competencies, and qualifies for professional development credits (PDCs). (See the SHRM Recertification Requirements Handbook for specifics.)
'An Essential Ingredient for the Future of the Profession'
Mentoring is "directly tied to the SHRM BoCK, the blueprint for the profession. It's how that blueprint is applied," said Nancy Kasmar, SHRM-SCP, principal of Compensation Connections in Snoqualmie, Wash., and author of So You Want to Start a Mentorship Program (Knotted Road Press, 2014). The book emerged from her experience running her SHRM chapter's mentorship program for three years. Now certification director for the Washington State HR Council, Kasmar said that "sharing knowledge with the next generation" through mentoring is "our route to developing the HR leaders of the future."
A bold graphic in Kasmar's book sums it up: "Why mentor? To create stars." That works for everyone involved, she said. "The foundation of the mentoring relationship is possibility. Mentor and mentee are open to what each might give and receive. A good relationship expands to become something bigger, providing mutual learning and experience. Both sides benefit, a win-win. That's when mentoring benefits the entire organization, and in this case, the HR profession."
SHRM Is Your Career Development Partner
SHRM itself serves as a kind of mentor to its members. Laurie McIntosh, SHRM-SCP, CAE, director of membership at SHRM, said the organization "strives to be an HR professional's partner throughout their career. That's accomplished by offering products and services, including SHRM Certification, and also by creating community—a way for our members to engage, connect, share successful practices and challenges, learn from each other. That's where mentoring comes in."
Career development resources for SHRM members are being continually enhanced, she added. "Whether it's a SHRM professional member mentoring a student member, or a member who holds the SHRM-SCP credential assisting a colleague preparing for the SHRM-CP exam, mentoring is highly valued."
National Mentoring Month: Key Organizations
HR professionals understand the value of human connections, as they provide as part of their daily jobs the guidance to help others make the right choices. Here are more details about the organizations spearheading National Mentoring Month activities, and how you can get involved.
CNCS is a federal government agency that works with local partners at 50,000 locations across the country to help over 5 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds. Established in 1993, its services focus on disaster recovery, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families. CNCS's core programs are AmeriCorps (incorporating VISTA), Senior Corps (including Foster Grandparents), the Social Innovation Fund and the Volunteer Generation Fund. The agency leads the National Days of Service, observed on Sept. 11 and Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
MENTOR is one of the top-performing nonprofit social impact organizations, according to the S&I 100 Index. Founded in 1990, MENTOR works to expand the quality and quantity of youth mentoring relationships nationwide through the development and delivery of mentorship program resources, evidence-based standards, research, best practices and tools. Its network of affiliates provides the leadership and infrastructure necessary to support mentoring regionally and locally. MENTOR runs the National Mentoring Summit, the annual conference of professionals, researchers, philanthropic investors, and government and civic leaders active in the field.
CNCS and MENTOR support the Corporate Mentoring Challenge, which encourages companies to create, expand or sponsor mentoring programs that help youth gain leadership skills, achieve educational goals and increase their confidence, as a key strategy to building a stronger 21st-century workforce. The initiative was launched in 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The Harvard Mentoring Project promotes and conducts research that demonstrates the value of mentoring, including improved academic, social and economic prospects for youth and stronger communities overall. A statement issued by Harvard's School of Public Health said, "Mentoring relationships are basic human connections that let a young person know that they matter, and mentors frequently report back that ... their mentees feel like someone is there to help them make the right choices in life."
Rena Gorlin, J.D., is an independent writer and editor in Washington, D.C.
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