Tips for Creating an Effective Employee Mentorship Program
Successful business leaders should create work environments that encourage collaboration and team building. Without proper guidance, these initiatives can get pushed to the wayside or lack effectiveness. In many cases, the best way to establish a learning and growing environment is to branch out beyond just the leadership team and incorporate a broader selection of the company. Employee mentorship programs are an ideal solution to achieving this sort of work environment for the numerous benefits they can provide for your organization. To ensure you’re collecting all the best possible benefits, we’re sharing our tips for creating an effective employee mentorship program.
Establish Your Framework
Creating a framework for your mentorship program is essential for long-term success. Without a proper foundation for participants to build upon, you risk disorganisation and difficulty measuring success. To start out, consider a few questions to help get the program started off on the right foot:
- What’s your objective?
- How will participants be chosen?
- How long will the program last?
Answering these questions can help guide you in creating the most impactful program for your employees.
Depending on your employee base and underlying company goals, determine the objective for your mentorship program and what you ultimately hope to achieve from its implementation. Whether that be new employees, peer groups or leadership, this base will help guide in your participant selection.
Determining who will be involved in the mentorship program is very much dependent on your specific situation. However, the common thread that connects all effective programs is the inclusion of people who actually want to be there. While some organisations require certain level employees to participate or match people up randomly, a bit of methodology can make all the difference in the success of your program.
To best facilitate mentor and mentee goal setting, it helps to have a general timeline for your mentorship program. Setting a program end date or check-in date for those who wish to continue, provides structure and motivation to complete tasks or initiates within each personal mentorship.
Once you have a handle on the answers to the above and have established a framework for your program, you can start implementing the next steps.
Pairing mentors and mentees
To get the most out of this experience, all participants should have a personal interest in the program and be able to commit to whatever their role in the program entails. Ideally, it’s best to encourage participation from all levels and departments, thereby offering enough of a range to ensure each mentee has someone they can learn from. While you shouldn’t deem employees of a certain position or title automatically a mentor, as those who are uninterested will be counterproductive, you should present the opportunity to everyone. Surveys are an excellent option for this case. Sending out an email survey is easy using free tools like Google Forms. They can also provide insight into who is and is not interested in participating in the program. Once you’ve gathered your results you can start grouping people into mentors and mentees.
Partners should be matched based on what they want to learn and where they are in their careers. By pairing employees with those outside their direct level or department, mentees are provided with the opportunity to learn and grow in a way that may have not been as easily accessible as before. Another great use of surveys, in this case, can be to ask potential mentors and mentees a few questions to best asses what they want out of the program and how to appropriately match them up.
A participant survey may look something like this:
- Why do you want to be a mentee/mentor?
- What do you hope to get from this program?
- What are your top three professional priorities?
- What are your top three professional strengths?
Each mentor and mentee pair will develop their own groove and personal goals, however, if this is their first time participating in a formal mentorship program it helps to have some general guidelines and focus areas to get the ball rolling. Encourage mentors and mentees to explore all possibilities of the program to discover what is more beneficial to each individual.
Branching out beyond daily tasks can help mentees learn new skills sets that can increase their value in an organisation and grow in their career path. These can be role-specific, such as new sales strategies for sales reps or cross-departmental, such as analytics training.
Mentorship programs are the ideal scenario for helping employees focus in on where they envision themselves within an organisation in coming years and what they can do to help themselves get there. Mentors can help facilitate growth by discussing mentees’ goals and advice.
Mentors can help mentees develop personal skills and confidence relevant to their specific strengths and weaknesses. Help with public speaking, presentation or writing are possible examples.
Mentors and mentees should be expected to meet on a regularly scheduled basis in order to effectively work towards goals and initiatives. A mutual understanding that time spent in these meetings should include constructive conversations is essential, as is participant’s preparation for each meeting. Because this is a voluntary program it’s unlikely that participants will be uncooperative or waste time in meetings, but to be safe, it’s best to layout expectations from the beginning.
Throughout the program, organisers should coordinate check-ins to ensure everything is playing out properly and both the mentors and mentees’ needs are being met. While ideally, pairs should feel comfortable expressing concerns or problems to one another, if they aren’t, these third-party check-ins can help eliminate any potential issues or program faults. At the end of the program, a formal program assessment should be shared with participants to evaluate their experience and how they feel they benefited. Measuring successes and shortcomings can help improve future programs and ensure new participants start off strong.
Mentorship programs are all about learning. Just as participants will learn from each other, this program will help you learn more about your employees and how to best aid in their success. Following these guidelines along with the input of your team, you’re sure to discover the many benefits that come along with a well-orchestrated mentorship program.
Author Bio: Maddie Davis is co-founder of Enlightened Digital and a tech-obsessed female from NYC. She lives by building websites, running marathons and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list.
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