Clever jobseekers know to look out for businesses with a mentor program. This is because successful businesses and teams understand that having a mentor in the workplace can improve employee engagement and employee satisfaction in a big way.
Yet, in a recent study, only 37% of respondents reported that they had ever enjoyed any form of mentorship at all. Which begs the question - why do professional spaces fail to cultivate a culture of mentorship?
Does your business have a mentorship program in place? If no, why not? After all, it only makes sense to promote skills transfer within your business.
Here are five steps that can help you tailor a mentor program for your team.
How To Tailor an Effective Mentor Program: 5 Important Steps to Take
Determine Goals & KPIs
First things first, you need to know what you are setting out to achieve with your mentor programs. For instance, your main aim might be to ensure that new hires have support during their initial onboarding at your company. Or you may have more far-reaching goals in mind that hinge on knowledge transferral like wanting to prepare junior workers for senior positions.
Here are a few questions to help you clarify your goals:
- Will peer mentors be expected to train new hires? If so, be clear about what their responsibilities will be in this regard.
- How will you ensure that both mentors and mentees enjoy benefits from their association?
- What do you want to achieve?
- How will you evaluate the program (i.e. what are your KPIs)?
- Who do you want to target with the program?
Also check in with your team to get their input and find out how and where the program would be the most beneficial. As the program develops, use pulse surveys to identify improvement areas so you can recalibrate as you go.
Get Input from Your Team
Following from the previous point, it's imperative to get input from your team before you roll out any type of program of this nature. If you don't, a situation might arise where the set-up becomes burdensome to your proposed mentors. Obviously, you want to sidestep any issues of this kind, since it will then achieve the opposite of what a mentorship program is meant to do.
Take the time to listen to your existing team, and see how you can streamline the process so that mentorship duties won't take away from day-to-day responsibilities. Determine what new mentees may need, and how mentors can support them in the most efficient way possible.
Plot Out the Particulars
Be clear about the expectations and particulars of the program, so both parties know what to expect. This will include guidelines on:
- Duration. How long will the mentorship period continue? Put a time-line on it (e.g. 3 months, or until person A reaches goal B, etc.).
- Meetings. When, where, and how will mentors and mentees be expected to meet? And how will they stay in touch in between meetings? Provide guidelines on communication platforms that both parties are comfortable with.
- Switching. Not every mentor/mentee relationship will work. There are bound to be some hitches along the way. Put a system in place for switching out without too much ruckus.
- Reporting. Know what and how mentors will report to management (if at all). Be clear about confidentiality from the get-go so the mentee is aware if the information they share will be reported on, or not.
Figure Out How You Will Pair Mentors & Mentees
This is perhaps the most important aspect of developing your program. One good way to go is to poll your employees on which skills and knowledge they feel confident to impart. Then you ask mentees to share which skills they want to lean into. This way you will have data on hand to help you in the pairing process.
Onboard New Recruits to Your Program Immediately
Make sure to include an introduction to your mentorship program in your induction process. We already know that onboarding affects work performance, so give new employees the tools to succeed straight off the bat. To start with, assigning every new inductee a peer mentor makes all the difference. This way, they have a dedicated point of contact on their level when they have any questions about the workplace.
Also provide them with information on the other aspects of the program during orientation. Bring it up again during performance reviews and other touch points along the employee journey.
Create and maintain a vibrant and sustainable mentor program for your business by determining goals and KPIs. Get input from your team, plot out the particulars, and figure out how to effectively pair mentors and mentees. Also aim to onboard new recruits to your program immediately.
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