Introducing Mentoring Programs to the Middle East
As most people have probably
found out at some point in their business career, importing global ideas and
practices into the Middle East just as they are and applying them without some
modification can lead to unexpected consequences.
with any region in the world, the Middle East has its own cultural and business
peculiarities, which shape the way business is done here and create a unique
above viewpoint also applies to running corporate mentorship programs in the
region, a practice that is still relatively new and unknown among the majority
of professionals in the Middle East. Mentorship programs are a very effective
learning tool available to organizations. Not only do they improve
productivity, increase employee loyalty and develop leadership skills, but they
can also be very effective in improving employee retention - a challenge faced
by many companies in the region, especially in the public sector and among GCC
if you’re going to be involved in initiating, developing or running a corporate
mentorship program in the Middle East, have a look through the following tips
in order to avoid potential pitfalls that can cast a shadow over the success of
1. Consider the
cultural and religious expectations of both mentors and mentees
may need to hold meetings in public places instead of closed offices, or decide
from the start to allocate only female mentees to female mentors and male
mentees to male mentors. This will avoid the awkward possibility of husbands or
brothers showing up to meetings to chaperone their wives!
2. Ensure that participants
have enough time for the program
is a well-known fact in this region that the workload of professionals is
usually heavy and it may be challenging to squeeze the mentorship program’s
requirements into participants' already full schedules.
3. Consider the language
everyone speaks English fluently, and most expats living in the Middle East
don't know Arabic. Both mentors and mentees need to speak the same language
comfortably in order to be able to build a productive relationship.
4. Remember that the concept
of mentoring is not common in this part of the world
opposed to western countries where people may be exposed to mentorship programs
even prior to becoming professionals, the concept of mentoring is not common in
this part of the world. You will need to explain the concept in detail,
provide examples and demonstrate benefits before introducing it to your organization.
5. Establish program
understanding and support
should consider that although program managers may be fully dedicated to the
mentorship program, senior management may not always offer that same level of
support. To overcome this, you will have to put some effort into identifying
influencers within top management and securing their support from the outset,
by educating them and involving them throughout the process.
6. Understand that most
mentors require some recognition
reward may be a common expectation of mentors in mentorship programs, and since
most mentorship programs do not include financial incentives, you will need to
identify other ways to reward participants. This could include official written
recognition from senior management (assuming you have secured their full
backing), internal or external communication that highlights the achievements
of top performers of the program, or even a dinner out together with all the
program’s participants to celebrate their work.
the benefits of a successfully run mentorship program can far outweigh the
challenges faced. Keep the above recommendations in mind, and you could
be on your way to seeing how mentorship programs can be just as effective in
the Middle East as they are in other regions.
How MENTOR can help
MENTOR plans and runs corporate mentoring and coaching programs for clients, handling the planning, mentor sourcing, mentor and mentee matching, ongoing management, and evaluation of these programs. We also incorporate a digital tool that facilitates program management and communication between participants.