How do I start a mentoring program at work?

How to start a mentoring program at workplace?

Since the onset of the pandemic, organizations throughout the world have been building strategies to increase the productivity of their workforce. In a digitally connected environment, it is difficult to gauge the parameters of employee productivity and engagement, and therefore, it is critical to develop innovative measures to manage overall productivity. One of the most important strategies undertaken by organizations is to start mentoring programs at work that help in building the skills of employees, improving engagement, building relationships, and facilitating knowledge transfer.

According to a recent HR Research Institute Report and Infographic, 70% of employees who receive coaching and mentoring perform better at work, have better relationships, and can communicate effectively.

Virtual and hybrid working models have created a multitude of problems at the employee's end, and one of them is limited opportunities for growth and development. It is also one of the most prominent reasons why employees switch jobs frequently. To counter this problem, organizations have to work on ensuring that employees get ample opportunities to learn and grow in their current positions and also get guidance for career development and enrichment. By incorporating mentoring programs, organizations can show employees that they are being cared for and that their skill development is at the core of the organization’s goals.

This article will answer questions like, "How to implement a mentoring program in the workplace?" and "What do you hope to gain from a mentoring program?". Read on to get the answers to these questions.

Also Read: How to promote employee wellbeing at workplace?

What is a mentoring program?

Mentoring programs, also known as "workforce mentoring," are an economical means of training wherein experienced employees impart training sessions to new and less experienced employees. Mentors can either be direct managers, supervisors, or specialised staff with extensive experience in delivering mentoring sessions. 

Over the years, mentoring programs have transformed with the advent of technology, employees’ expectations, excessive competition, and a changing global business landscape. Organizations have to devise mentoring programs after analyzing the above-stated factors and aligning them with their vision, mission, and goals.

There are multiple reasons for starting a mentoring program, such as learning and development of employees, reskilling and upskilling, employee retention, focus on diversity and inclusion of minorities, leadership development, and employee engagement. Based on the goals set up by an organization, they can run various programs in parallel to extract short-term and long-term benefits.

Also Read: 7 qualities of a good mentor

How to start a mentoring program?

Starting a mentoring program requires analyzing the competitive environment, changing business dynamics, employees’ expectations, and changing consumer demand. It requires the involvement of upper management to delve into the various internal and external parameters that are affecting the business and understand how mentoring programs can help in overcoming the forthcoming challenges. Check out the below steps for starting a mentoring program at the workplace.

Step 1: Establishing goals and developing a program

The foundation of a successful mentoring program lies in the goals that organizations want to fulfill. At this stage, it is imperative to have collaboration from upper management, various underlying departments, leaders, managers, and employees, to understand their concerns, aspirations, and opportunities. 

The goal of a mentoring program can be to accomplish either of the following:

  • Increasing employee engagement and productivity
  • Employee retention and work satisfaction
  • Creating managers and leaders for the future / Succession Planning
  • Setting up SMART goals 
  • Attracting new talent
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion

Also Read: What's the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Once the goals of the program are clearly defined, the next task is to design a program that offers a smooth and successful learning experience for the employees. Based on the previous experiences of organizations, power distance, level of collaboration, budget, employee strength, and hierarchy, mentoring programs are designed to suit the needs of different business stakeholders. It is easier to create the program design by answering a set of questions as mentioned below.

  • What types of mentoring programs are already in place and how successful are they?
  • Who needs to be involved in developing the program?
  • Is the program inclusive or exclusive?
  • Who is responsible for the management, coordination, and supervision of the program?
  • What will be the communication channel for sharing the news of the program with employees?
  • How can employees enroll in the program?
  • How to increase the number of employees signing up?
  • How will the mentor-mentee match take place?
  • How to increase the effectiveness of the program?
  • How to measure a program's success?

Also Read: 7 common challenges in a mentoring relationship

Step 2: Selecting the Right Mentor Model

Organizations can utilize different types of mentoring programs based on their short-term and long-term goals. After assessing the business model, employee expectations, and business needs, it becomes easier to select the type of mentoring program that will be suitable for employees. Mentoring programs have evolved over the years, and organizations can choose to customize them as per their business dynamics. Below are the five types of professional mentoring programs.

One-on-One Mentoring Programs

These are traditional mentoring programs wherein a mentor provides one-to-one sessions to a mentee and nourishes his skills and knowledge for career guidance and growth. Usually, the mentor is a senior person in the organization with great expertise in a particular domain. The pairing in this form of mentoring is done by the program manager. 

Resource-Based Mentoring Programs

It is quite similar to one-on-one mentoring programs, with the only difference being that a mentee selects a mentor from the list of available mentors. A mentee then asks the selected mentor to volunteer for his or her assistance in the mentee's learning and development.

Group Mentoring Programs

In this professional mentoring program, a group of mentees is allotted to a mentor who utilizes his/her skills and knowledge to nourish them for different projects. The group usually meets one or twice a month, either in a traditional physical setup or virtually. This type of program is usually conducted where there is a paucity of expert resources.

Reverse Mentoring Programs

In reverse mentoring programs, a junior resource is assigned as a mentor to a senior employee. The junior mentor provides social technological information to the senior resource and, in exchange, gets the technical expertise, knowledge, and career guidance from them. Reverse mentoring is picking up the pace in various Fortune 500 organizations because of the numerous benefits it entails for the mentor and mentee pair.

Online Mentoring Programs

 After the onset of the pandemic, most organizations have switched to online mentoring programs, also known as virtual mentoring programs. This program utilizes various tools and techniques that enable mentors to connect with their mentees and provide them with sessions in a virtual environment. The use of online mentoring programs has increased manifold due to the convenience they offer to both mentors and mentees. The only constraint in this formal mentoring program is the lack of physical indicators like body language, eye movement, and more that help a mentor understand the involvement of mentees in sessions.

Also Read: Confused about selecting the right mentoring model? Check out what suits your organization.

Step 3: Mentor-Mentee Matching

A well-thought-out program design and setting helps in onboarding employees quickly. The next step is to create the perfect mentor and mentee match that will define the success of the program. It requires the involvement of learning and development managers and program managers to carry out the complex task of matching. 

Matching is one of the most critical steps in setting up a mentoring program as most of the people that drop out of the program are due to incorrect matches that don't deliver as per the expectations of employees. 

Program managers use employee details such as academics, skill sets, certifications, interests, and aspirations to match mentors with mentees that can deliver as per the mutual understanding. Most managers resort to manual mapping by analyzing the information provided by employees. However, it is not an appropriate method because of the personal bias of the manager. 

Using advanced analytical tools like Mentoring Complete can solve the challenges of matching. Precision Matching is an AI-based feature of the tool that helps in creating matches with a 90% success ratio. Hence, by using these tools, organizations can create better matches between mentors and mentees.

Also Read: How to find a business mentor?

Benefits of having a mentoring program

Step 4: Developing Resources for the Program

Resources for formal mentoring programs involve training documents, assessments, case studies, e-books, and technical environments. To ensure effective participation of employees in sessions, a mentor has to use different tools that keep mentees focused on learning. Organizations have the ponderous task of creating the resources for mentoring programs. Alternatively, they can use the internal resources or use Mentoring Complete for a quick start to the mentoring program.

Step 5: Mentorship Training

For the successful delivery of a mentoring program, it is important that mentors are aligned with the organizational goals and understand the purpose of the program. Providing training to mentors saves the organization from the issues of dropouts and programs not delivering as per the expectations. Therefore, during the goal setting process, it is imperative to have the involvement of mentors for them to understand the criticality of the program. By offering guidance and training mentors, it is possible to increase the effectiveness of a mentoring program. 

Also Read: Tips to delivering effective mentoring session

Step 6: Keeping the Mentoring Momentum Going

Once the mentor-mentee match has been successfully completed, the major task of maintaining the program’s momentum begins. To keep up with the pace of the program and to achieve the desired results, program managers must take mentees' feedback and share it with the mentors for improvements. 

By conveying the desired goals, mentees can steer the program in the right direction and also maintain a healthy relationship with their mentor. Proper communication and feedback sharing are important at this stage to understand the effectiveness of the program. Organizations can employ mentoring tools to improve goal setting, process communication, and share feedback that helps in keeping the program on track. It also provides a common platform for mentors and mentees to share their views, issues, and expectations with each other.

Also Read: Skills required to become a mentor

Step 7: Measure Program Success and ROI

Program managers have the responsibility of measuring the success of a mentoring program and providing management with the program's ROI. To measure the success of a program, a program manager analyzes the achievement of objectives that were set during the design phase of the program. There are short-term and long-term metrics that offer insights into the ROI of the program.

Short-term metrics

The metric highlights the immediate results of the program based on the following parameters:

  • Participants’ enrolment
  • The dropout rate
  • Participants completing the program assessment
  • Overall feedback on the program

Long-term metrics

The metric measures the long-term effects of the program. It usually takes more than one year for the mentoring programs to show their effectiveness in achieving the long-term goals. The following parameters help in measuring the long-term metrics:

  • Employee engagement and productivity
  • Employee turnover
  • Internal and external communication
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer centricity 

Conclusion

An engaged and productive workforce is the key to achieving better results and standing out in the global business market. By following the above-discussed steps, organizations can start a mentoring program that brings fruitful results in terms of employee retention, productivity, engagement, and customer centricity. We hope this article will help answer the question, “How to implement a mentoring program in the workplace?”

Looking to start a mentoring program at work but don't know where to begin? Checkout Mentoring Complete for a quick start to your organizational mentoring needs.

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Topics: Mentoring Resources, Mentoring Best Practices, Formal vs. Informal Mentoring, workplace mentoring