John joined this vital and vibrant church. He felt refreshed during the worship experience. He loved the teachings. He felt God while within the church service. However after the service he felt like an intruder. Coming from an unchurched background, he could not understand the language and the unspoken values of the church. When he tried talking to people he seemed to always violate some unwritten rule of the church. He just did not feel like he belonged. After a few months of being lonely within a crowd, he left the church.
Organisations can easily become too exclusive and inward looking because by nature people tend to lock out those who are new or different. Organisational culture can serve as a deterrent to new members. In business lingo a strong organizational culture may serve as an entry barrier. Introduce a new person to a business and suddenly he feels out of place while the insiders of the organization are also uncomfortable with the stranger. Once the stranger arrives, conversations change and become measured.
Mentorship is a powerful tool to allow a new comer to be inducted into an organization whether it is a church, a business or just a social club. By creating mentorship relationships with new comers it allows them a soft landing into the new environment. The organizational mentor will explain the idiosyncracies of the organization, will answer questions that are embarrassing to ask publicly, will help the new comer to adjust and be accepted by the others. The mentor can help with enculturation by helping the new comer to assimilate and internalise the culture of the organization. Organisational mentors will assist the newcomer to navigate the murky waters of organizational politics. An organizational mentor will introduce the new person into newer relationships thereby widening his circle of friends.
I remember joining a new organization where during social outings I would spend more time to myself because the organization seemed full of cliques and I could not tell whether I was welcome into any of them. Any attempt to speak to some of the veterans, brought embarrassment as I could not be sure whether I was welcome into the closed clique. It appeared like I was disturbing a certain level of intimacy that had developed within the group. Could I be trusted? I was beginning to consider myself a misfit within the organization when one of the leaders took me under his wings and introduced me to people. Once I had the cover of this leader, I was now accepted into the fraternity. The mentor walked me through the formal and informal power centres within the organization. This greatly helped my assimilation and induction.
It is therefore critical to ensure some form of organizational induction through a “buddy” to new comers. Churches and organizations lose people who are interested in their cause due to lack of proper induction. Mentorship can and will help reduce this loss. It leads to retention of members. It has been proven that a key to retention of members within an organisation is a strong network of informal social relationships. Mentorshipsbuilds a strong web of informal relationships which help produce a sense of identity and belonging.
Churches and businesses could mobilise, deploy and retain new skills faster and longer through organisational mentorship.