The Role of Mentoring in Growing the Next Generation of Evaluators
Mentoring, coaching and onboarding are powerful tools that can contribute to advancing professionalization in evaluation
In June this year, IEG won an award for having the best mentoring program in the World Bank Group.
I am so proud of this recognition because it validates the progress we have made since the inception of IEG's mentoring program in 2014.
In my view, mentoring is a powerful tool that can contribute to advancing professionalization in evaluation by complementing more formal investments in accreditation, certification and tertiary education.
Research by the Conference Executive Board and other organizations points to the value of mentoring in terms of retention, staff morale and performance, and overall business results. IEG’s evaluations of Learning and Results in World Bank Operations and the (forthcoming) assessment of self-evaluation systems in the World Bank also speak to the importance of transferring tacit knowledge – through informal staff-to-staff conversations and mentoring relationships.
Five years ago, when our employees raised mentoring as a priority, our leadership was fully supportive. We knew that the success of our team depended on the professional growth and personal fulfillment of our staff. In order to take on more challenging evaluations and new methods, it was important that our staff were fully equipped to live up to the challenge.
But, making it a priority was not enough. It was also important to think creatively about how we could build and sustain a program that served staff and business needs.
To signal our commitment, we ensured that the mentoring program had senior-level sponsorship at director-level and a dedicated core team of staff from across the organization, representing different grades and levels of experience. We recruited specialist mentors from outside the World Bank Group to complement the advice and support we received from our internal Human Resources and Learning departments. We assigned champions to ensure people signed up, were matched, and that everyone remained committed to make it work for themselves and each other.
And, of course, we created feedback loops throughout the different stages of the program, including regular engagement with the mentees and mentors by our senior leadership team.
Ultimately, much of the program’s success came down to the commitment and time people spent doing the mentoring: both mentors providing support and insights, or just explaining how things work around IEG or the World Bank Group, and mentees taking time to request meetings, ask questions, and share perspectives. Invariably, mentors have emphasized how much they have grown through their engagement with mentees. This mutual benefit is rewarding—beyond the team award IEG won—and contributes to a changing fabric in IEG.
The results have been impressive. Since the program launched in 2014, over 70 staff have participated as mentors and mentees. In a recent survey, 96 percent of our participants said that they achieved their expected objectives in the program, while 88 percent said they were satisfied with either their mentor or mentee pair.
We recognize that mentoring is not the only tool needed to support our staff’s professional growth. IEG is investing in several other programs to make sure our staff have the knowledge and skills to succeed and grow.
In 2014, IEG introduced a Technology, Good Practice and Innovation (TGIF) learning series. This weekly series of one-hour, lunch-time workshops has helped IEG staff strengthen skills in dozens of areas, including Tableau and Box, (Technology), delivering engaging presentations, social media, and user-centric design (Good Practice), and Knowledge Management and Business Intelligence (Innovation).
In 2015, IEG expanded its Mentoring program to include a coaching component. The coaching program asked staff to identify topics they wanted to learn about and topics in which they had expertise to share with others. We matched staff interested in a topic with staff able to share knowledge in that area. In its first year, 22 IEG staff volunteered as coaches leading technical master classes and one on one sessions on topics including Impact Evaluation, Sovereign Risk Analysis, and Evaluating Knowledge Products.
Finally, we recognize the importance of investing in new staff early to shorten the time it takes for them to become positive contributors. To that end, in 2015, IEG introduced a new staff learning roadmap, to be filled out by hiring managers. The roadmap provides steps—courses to take, publications to read, people to meet— for staff new to IEG to get acquainted with the department, the systems, and the people, with the goal of getting them integrated quickly and efficiently to become IEG Influencers. In addition, this year, IEG will relaunch a face-to-face onboarding course for new staff.
Mentoring, learning, onboarding, and coaching programs are a few of the ways IEG works to make sure our staff have the skills and knowledge to succeed.
What approaches have you used to achieve similar goals?