Thinking of starting a mentoring program in your company / organization? Here are three tips to ensure you get off the ground running!
1. Define your Goals and Objectives
The starting point for any mentoring program begins with two important questions:
Why are you starting this program? What does success look like for participants and the organization?
You need to define the purpose of your programs - to promote diversity, onboard employees better, improve company culture, support career development, or maybe even increase employee retention. Defining the purpose will help you create associated measurable objectives. To be effective you need the ability to capture metrics and feedback throughout the program lifecycle. For example, in a career development mentoring program you can compare the promotion rates of program participants to non-participants.
Once you decide on the goals, you can then decide on your program’s structure.
2. Decide if you want an Open or Closed Community
Upnotch offers both internal and external mentoring but it's up to you whether your employees mentor only each other or if they can connect with mentors outside of your organization. Both options have value and will significantly help your teams, though the option to allow outside mentors does come with some additional benefits.
Benefits of Internal mentoring: It helps you build a great work culture. Having an internal mentor can be extremely beneficial for employees seeking to advance their career in the organization or navigate a recent promotion.
Benefits of outside mentors: It brings a fresh perspective! Being from another company and even industry, outside mentors can provide an out-of-the-box solution and share new approaches to challenges. It gives your employees a broader network of experts outside of the company.
Having an open community means your employees can choose multiple mentors - internal and external - and get the best of both worlds!
3. Get people excited
You’ll need to generate excitement among employees. You can’t force them to join your program. They have to volunteer.
Often companies skip the promoting stage and launch a program, expecting to have thousands of participants without getting people involved and engaged in the first place.
When new mentoring programs are introduced in organizations, there is generally some natural enthusiasm. Yet this enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into high participation rates. The main reason is the absence of effective promotion. Don’t assume potential mentors and mentees understand the benefits. For many, this will be their first opportunity to participate in mentoring. You will need to convince them that participating is worth their time and effort.
Highlight the benefits for each group explicitly.
For mentees, talk about how a mentor helps them develop their knowledge and provides motivation, advice, feedback and encouragement. It's like having someone to personally guide them through their career.
For mentors, emphasize that it improves their understanding of what's going on at all levels of their company, in different departments, and in different job functions. It helps them become better leaders, better listeners and broaden their perspectives.
Everyone has something to give. Everyone has something to learn.
Those are our three top tips on setting up a successful mentorship program. If you're ready to learn more, get in touch today!