Starting a mentoring program at your organization can be the start of an exciting transformation for your organization. However, one of the challenges of starting a mentoring program is that there are often many more people who want to be mentored than there are people willing to take on the role of a mentor.
As a result, it can be challenging for organizations to recruit mentors. Consider these ideas for recruiting mentors for your mentoring program.
Advertise the mentoring program.
People can’t sign up to be mentors if they don’t know about the opportunity, so it’s critical to advertise and talk up the program.
Set aside time during the program launch to market the program and get applicants. Send e-mails, make announcements at meetings, post on internal message boards, and keep in mind that most people need to hear an announcement more than once before they will act on it.
To get more attention, have an executive sponsor talk about the program. For example, a video announcement of the program by the CEO is bound to catch people’s attention and bring legitimacy and gravitas to the program.
Outline the benefits of becoming a mentor.
While the traditional conception of a mentoring relationship is that the mentor gives and the mentee receives, it’s more accurate to describe a mentoring relationship as reciprocal: it’s not just the mentee that can learn things.
Often, mentees have a different area of expertise or their training is more up-to-date than the mentor, so the mentor learns from the mentee as well. In addition, the act of mentoring can help mentors develop their leadership and communication skills.
Mentors can also broaden their perspective by seeing the organization from an alternative point of view, through their mentee’s eyes. Mentors also report increased satisfaction with their career as mentoring helps them focus on leaving a legacy.
Clearly, a mentor has a lot to gain by entering a mentoring relationship, and mentoring program administrators shouldn’t be shy about sharing these benefits.
Looks for people who already have the qualities of a good mentor.
To be an effective mentor, an individual should have relevant experience and have a broad network. As far as personal qualities, a mentor should be enthusiastic and approachable, as well as open to learning and growth.
Are there leaders in the organization that are particularly good at delivering feedback? These types of people can make excellent mentors. Chances are, if an individual has the necessary skills to be a mentor, they are likely to care about developing others and may be more open to becoming a mentor.
Keep in mind that an individual need not have all of the qualities of a good mentor, but at least some. Once these people have been identified, reach out to them directly to ask them to be a part of the program. Be sure to tell them what qualities you see in them and why you think it will make them a good mentor.
Be clear on what commitments the mentor is expected to make.
One of the first questions a potential mentor will ponder is “how much time will this take?” Chances are, your mentoring program is targeting successful executives to be mentors.
Executives are typically very busy and may not have much room left in their schedule, and a virtual meeting every three months can be much easier to fit on their plate than weekly face-to-face meetings, for example.
Be clear and realistic what you’re asking of mentors in terms of a time commitment, and people will be more likely to say yes to joining the mentoring program.
Provide training and support for mentors.
If an individual has never been a mentor before, they might be nervous or feel uncertain about taking on such a role. By providing comprehensive training before the program, mentors can be more confident in their abilities and have more clarity around the role of the mentor.
Mentors also need ongoing support throughout the program to make sure the mentoring pair is a success.
Continue recruiting throughout the program life cycle.
Don’t consider recruiting to be a one-and-done event. Most successful mentoring programs cycle through several cohorts, and therefore will continually need new mentors.
Keep advertising the program, talking about the benefits of mentoring, and identifying potential mentors throughout the year.
Target former graduates of your mentoring program to become mentors.
People who have graduated from the mentoring program as former mentees can be one of the best sources of mentors. These individuals already know what to expect in a mentoring relationship, they know the specifics of your mentoring program, and many will want to “pay it forward” and help continue the mentoring tradition.
Share testimonials of former mentors and mentees.
Citing statistics about the success of mentoring programs or talking about the benefits of mentoring in general terms will only get you so far in influencing people to join the mentoring program. However, hearing the stories and experiences of people involved in the program can be extremely compelling.
When designing a program, it can be easy to take an “if you build it, they will come” approach. But don’t leave the recruitment of mentors up to chance. Implement these techniques to make sure your program has a pipeline of great mentors available.