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What Mentoring Looks Like at Sonoco

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At Sonoco, we believe mentorship is a crucial tool for employee training and development. Today, we answer these questions about mentorship:

  • What is mentoring and how does it work? 
  • What does mentorship look like? 
  • What are the benefits of a mentoring program? 
  • Do mentorship programs work?

What is mentoring and how does it work?

Mentoring is a positive two-way relationship: A mentor passes along knowledge, skills and connections to a mentee, and the mentee gains the knowledge and skills needed to overcome obstacles, face challenges and chart their career path.

So how does it work? A mentor functions as a sounding board that provides candid feedback and expert advice. A mentee gains confidence as they gain knowledge, expand their network and leverage relationships—taking ownership of their professional development.

Mentoring relationships are typically between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced mentee, but they can also include two peers or two individuals from different businesses. Because each mentor contributes unique experiences, qualities and skills, mentees are wise to select one that matches their areas of desired growth.

What does mentorship look like?

At Sonoco, we provide three types of mentorship programs to help employees at different stages of their career or with different career goals. They include:  

  • New hire mentorships: This mentorship program guides mentees as they start building connections across our businesses and assimilate to our culture and values. 
  • Career development mentorships: This mentorship program supports mentees as they develop new skills, navigate the workplace and build connections needed for future opportunities. 
  • Peer mentorships: This mentorship program provides mentees with a source of knowledge and support as they develop specific new skills, look for resources and establish relevant connections.

What are the benefits of a mentoring program?

Everyone has room for development. Seeking the support of a mentor is a proactive step towards continuous growth and improvement. Mentorship helps mentees:

  • Identify growth areas. 
  • Build valuable relationships. 
  • Avoid potential downfalls. 
  • Receive honest and direct feedback. 
  • Increase creativity. 
  • Gain confidence in how to solve problems. 
  • Add value to the business.

But mentorship also benefits mentors and the company. It helps them:

  • Gain new skills, knowledge and confidence. 
  • Transfer and maintain company knowledge. 
  • Increase staff engagement and retention. 
  • Foster an inclusive and collaborative environment. 
  • Cultivate a culture of regular, meaningful development conversations.

Do mentorship programs work?

The proof is in the pudding…or, in this case, the people. Our Sonoco mentees and mentors share this about their experiences:

“Mentorship is important to me to share experience and guidance for problems that may be faced in work and personal life. It provides opportunities for listening and consultation. Mentoring has helped to guide me into being a better leader.”

“Regardless of how much experience you have, there is always an opportunity to improve your soft skills of how to handle conflict and deal with different situations. It’s refreshing to obtain a different perspective from somebody who is well-respected in the company and has a certain level of expertise in managing others.” – Philip L.

“My mentor is able to give me an alternative view of the company being in a different division and position. The fresh perspective allows me to observe problems from various directions. It’s nice knowing that not only do I have support, but that someone in his position actually cares about retaining and growing the future leaders of the company.” – Iyen O.

“I am interested in being a mentor for a few reasons. First, I find it greatly rewarding to help a person see and reach their potential. Second, I find it rewarding to help provide a mentee a perspective that might help them make good career decisions that fit both their career and personal aspirations.” – Palace S.

“I was interested in being a mentee with my mentor, because they had experience in the field I was hoping to join. I knew they would be able to give specific advice on what topics to brush up on and could keep me up to date with the goals and objectives of their team.” – Delia M.  

“I have thoroughly enjoyed time with my mentee. I am thankful to have the opportunity to help him navigate his career and offer some tips based on my career experiences. Mentorships are more than just offering career advice. It’s an awesome opportunity to build strong relationships that have an impact on both the mentor and the mentee. I am thankful that Sonoco provides a way for us to connect on a deeper level.” – Jon P.  

Today, mentorship still serves as a valuable tool for advising and teaching. At Sonoco, we’re committed to developing our people—our most valuable resource. Why? We believe that people build businesses. Explore how we develop team members