Strategies for a Strong Workplace Mentoring Programme
Many employees come to work with the skills and drive to get the job done but feel like they aren’t reaching their full potential. Others may excel in one area but lack important skills in others. This, in turn, can lead to low satisfaction and retention rates amongst employees, not to mention missed opportunities for your company.
It’s no surprise, then, that most Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programmes in the workplace to help employees recognize and reach their full potential. While the benefits for mentors, mentees, and the company as a whole are numerous, it’s not always clear where to begin, however. That’s where we can help.
Get started on creating a workplace mentoring programme with the following five strategies:
1. Choose Goals for Your Mentoring Programme
A workplace mentoring programme can target any level of employee and cover a plethora of challenges, so it helps to focus on a few clear goals. Will the programme help new employees understand the company culture? Improve retention rates? Develop middle managers’ leadership skills? Build stronger inter-generational relationships?
“Having goals makes it possible to measure the programme’s success,” says Bill Sanders, principal and senior consultant for Roebling Strauss, Inc. For example, in a programme targeting employee retention, you could look at before-and-after retention rates. You could also target and measure employee satisfaction, engagement, or promotion rates.
2. Keep It Simple
A workplace mentoring programme doesn’t have to be complicated, and the bulk of the work occurs upfront in the preparation phase. According to Lars Sudmann, an executive coach with Sudmann & Company BVBA, people often formulate highly elaborate, overly complicated mentoring programmes in the workplace. He describes these approaches as both costly and counterproductive.
A mentoring programme needs leadership, whether it is one person or an advisory board. Your timeframe depends on how big the programme is and how many people you want to participate. Remember that the most effective mentoring happens at a personal level. You want to have one or two people in your company map and match potential mentees and mentors, and then initiate the mentoring relationship.
3. Show You Value Mentoring by Evaluating and Rewarding Mentors
Mentees aren’t the only ones who benefit from these mentoring programmes. They can also help mentors grow in their coaching, management, communication, and leadership skills. But keep in mind that it’s work, and chances are those mentors are already pretty busy. You’ll need to find ways to motivate and entice employees to sign on as mentors to the programme.
While it is great to mentor for altruistic reasons, the reality is that “the mentor needs to know what is in it for them,” as University of Indianapolis assistant professor, Terry Schindler explains. To show you value workplace mentor participation, include their efforts as part of their annual performance review and find ways to recognise and reward them throughout the year for taking on additional responsibilities and supporting others.
4. Help Mentees Manage the Relationship
Mentoring programmes in the workplace often fade away after a few months. “One reason that I heard often from mentees: ‘My mentor never contacted me,’” Sudmann says. “Well, of course not, that is not the role of a mentor.” Sudmann recommends making it clear to mentees that they are in charge of the process: setting up meetings, putting questions together, etc. That can help keep the relationship alive.
Additionally, mentees and mentors often don’t know what to discuss in a mentor/mentee meeting, so it can be awkward at times, especially at the beginning of the relationship. Give them each a one-page overview (no big manuals) with potential questions they can discuss, such as career topics for the mentee and areas of support for the mentor.
5. Consider Alternative Mentoring Options
Not everyone is cut out to be a workplace mentor. If you’re lacking in-house advisers, consider using a service that can match your employees with external mentors. Find them through your industry’s trade associations, local business groups, or mentor-matching organisations like the Carmichael Mentoring Programme or Enterprise Ireland Mentor Network.
Workplace Mentoring Programmes in the Workplace Can Help with Recruiting
A well-crafted workplace mentoring programme can be a huge help to current employees, regardless of their position. It can also serve as an incentive during recruiting. Many candidates would be happy to know that your company plans to support its new hire with a solid mentoring programme. Find motivated candidates for your company by posting your job listing for free on Monster today.