Mentoring gives employees room to grow, and someone to actively learn from. It also prepares managers and even lower-level employees for leadership positions within your organization. However, not all mentoring programs are created equal. Without the right pieces in place, it can be a waste of everyone’s time.
Use these tips to support your new mentor program, allowing your employees to grow, learn and connect in the process.
Pair Employees Wisely
Establishing a mentor program is exciting, and the best way to support it is to start with a solid foundation. In a program where one-on-one connections are critical, it’s important that mentors and mentees are paired appropriately.
For example, employee engagement experts at Hubgets dive into the various personality traits, and how they affect people’s roles within the company. This is based on the Belbin Team Roles. One of these roles is the Specialist (SP), and Hubgets explains how their personality plays into mentoring:
“The SP type can be an outsider. By virtue of being an expert. Think of them as a team member who has their own lab. Someone who loves to learn new things and explain them to the team. The Specialist is great at commanding respect when in a leadership position. Especially when leading a like-minded team. Naturally, the SP won’t always lead a team of researchers. Even though they are always in the pursuit of acquiring new knowledge. They make great technical mentors.”
In this case, someone who fits within this role may be a great mentor for an analyst or someone on your technical team, rather than someone on the creative side. Resource Investigators (RI), on the other hand, may be great mentors for your sales team:
“Resource-Investigators are amazing at business development. Coupled with being great communicators, they are outstanding extroverts. RIs are the perfect router for ideas. They’re great negotiators and very capable networkers. Simply put, there’s no one else as good at networking.”
Find a way to use similar details as guidelines when pairing mentors and mentees. Keep in mind, however, that personality is not the only way to choose the best mentoring pair. Matching should also focus on the skills of the mentor and the needs of the mentee. Finding that balance will provide crucial for the long-term success of your program.
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Education pairs perfectly with the less formal learning mentees are already doing with mentors. This is especially true for your technical talent, like developers, who need to be continually learning to keep your product and website secure, efficient, and up-to-date.
A 2018 learning report found that this combination is critical for the success of your development team: “L&D managers [should] adopt a blended learning strategy which combines reading with private, dedicated training courses, along with outlets for peer-to-peer mentoring and coaching (e.g., internal company meetups).”
To support all other mentor relationships as well, make education an integral part of the process. Bring in speakers, allow for educational mentor-mentee outings, or use an LMS to facilitate self-paced learning in the office.
If you’re not sure where to start, poll employees using survey software. When employees choose how they learn, they’re more empowered to take advantage of the opportunity and retain the information.
Set Up Checkpoints
Mentoring is like any other aspect of your business. If you’re not measuring success, you’ll never know the impact it’s having. That’s what checkpoints are for: a chance to check-in on progress, success and overall happiness with the program itself. The 5-Step Guide to Launching a Mentoring Program explains:
“As a mentoring connection progresses, establish checkpoints where mentorships report on their progress. Even if your organisation doesn’t choose to formally track the details, just the act of reporting progress helps mentors and mentees stay productive.”
There are many ways to bring checkpoints into your mentor programming, both formally and otherwise. For example, qualitative monthly check-ins with someone in a leadership role can provide important insight and keep mentors and mentees focused. If you want to get more specific, however, invest in a tool that employees can use to log learnings, time spent, events attended and more.
Don’t forget to translate those check-ins into measurements for success. Regardless of how you facilitate them, the 5-step guide suggests tracking the following details: individual learning, program health, and mentoring connection activity. To do so, you may need to put more formal mentor-mentee reporting into place.
Anyone providing the mentoring is likely a potential leadership candidate for your company, even if they’re already a manager. In fact, many companies implement this program specifically to find the next generation of leaders within their business.
Training your mentors will not only prepare them for a larger leadership role, but also ensure the success of your program. When they understand the value and objectives, and are armed with the tools they need to navigate themselves and their mentee, you’ll see better outcomes.
This can be in the form of a full-day training session, intensive out-of-office training, or online, self-paced learning that they complete over the course of the program.
Remember that this is another part of the process to document and track. When this round of mentoring is over, you can assess whether the mentor training was effective. If not, poll employees about why and how it can be improved, and then try a new a new tactic until you find what works.
Share Tools and Resources
Your mentoring pairs need access to tools and resources that will allow them to be successful. This collection of information, worksheets, ideas and training is something you can create to be specific to your company and employees. As you continue with new rounds of mentoring, you’ll keep adding to and refining the resources to provide continuous value. Here are a two methods for curating and sharing tools and resources:
Create a private Facebook group or create a channel via your in-office chat tool, which makes sharing resources with the right people effortless. Everyone from your HR manager to mentees should be sharing resources here, including articles, videos, wins, and helpful tools and worksheets.
Set up a Google Doc or Dropbox to organize all the curated resources. You may have a folder for each mentor and mentee, along with subfolders for various categories. Think: goal-setting worksheets, videos and helpful guides.
With access to these resources, and the ability to share new ones, everyone is supported throughout the duration of the program.
Mentoring is just one way to encourage your employees to grow personally, professionally and within the company. However, simply saying, “we have a mentoring program” isn’t enough to make it successful. You need to set a strong foundation and provide support along the way. Use these ideas to kick-off your new mentoring program and make it a valuable addition to your company culture.
About the Author
As a social media coach and organic content marketing consultant, Jessica Thiefels provides mentoring to entrepreneurs and business owners every day. She’s been writing for 10 years and you can find her work on more than 500 websites worldwide, including Virgin, Forbes, MarTech, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.