We explored the many benefits of building and implementing a successful workplace mentoring program for government employees in our first article. Now we will explain the steps involved in developing an effective workplace mentoring program.
There are different types of mentoring, such as one-on-one mentoring; group mentoring in which one individual mentors several people at once; e-mentoring through email, social media, or video chats; reverse mentoring in which a younger employee teaches a seasoned employee such topics as new technology; and peer mentoring, in which colleagues learn from each other. Regardless of which method you choose, there are five essential steps to creating a successful workplace mentoring program, according to [email protected], UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s online MBA program. Below are five highlights from [email protected]’s guide on “How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program.”
1) Setting Objectives and Structure
The first and most critical step in developing an effective workplace mentoring program is determining why you need it and what you want to accomplish through the mentoring process. The program or programs can only be successful if built around specific organizational needs or skill gaps. For example, you may want to improve customer service, or develop potential leaders.
In addition to being specific, the goals should also be measurable and realistic for employees to attain. And they must be accomplished within a given time frame. Usually mentoring sessions last for a year, but this time frame can be adjusted as necessary.
Every member of the organization should be allowed to participate in mentoring, so the program should be announced at a company-wide level. Various methods of communication should be used, including meetings, newsletters, and email. To obtain buy-in, the implementation of mentoring should be communicated enthusiastically as something that will be beneficial to employees as well as the company as a whole. Employees should clearly understand the objectives and the qualifications for participation.
3) Implementation and Training
Since most people are not natural mentors, a professional trainer should be utilized to train both the mentors and the mentees at the same time. Use a formal classroom-style setting, and ensure that both parties understand their responsibilities. During the training, they should identify goals, which must relate to the company’s needs. During this time, the mentors and mentees should also determine when they will meet and for how long (such as every other Monday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.). It’s also important for both parties to learn how to provide feedback and maintain confidentiality to ensure that the mentoring remains productive.
4) Connecting Participants and Monitoring Progress
When matching participants, don’t lock them into their partners. In other words, allow them to decide if their mentoring relationship is not working without penalizing them for being honest. It’s important to consider the opinions of both parties, and allow them to find other mentorship relationships that may work better.
Both parties should also be required to check-in on a regular basis, such as every two months up to the eight-month milestone, and then have a final check-in after the program is over. During the check-in sessions, ensure that both parties are holding up their end of the agreement. They should be meeting regularly at the agreed upon times and for the agreed upon time lengths. They should also be making progress toward their goals.
5) Assessing Impact
After the program has been completed, use surveys, interviews, improvements in work performance or skills, and other measurable factors, to determine if the mentoring was successful. Also, analyze the mentoring process to identify best practices along with what did not work or needs to be changed.
Successful workplace mentoring requires a commitment of time and effort. However, when it is correctly planned, implemented, and evaluated, the results are well worth the initial investment.