When it comes to creating a successful workplace mentorship program, defining the purpose of the program is an essential first step. An organization’s leadership must ask themselves what they hope to accomplish with a mentoring program or what issues are they hoping to resolve. By knowing what the goals of a mentorship are, it will be easier to define ways to measure results and keep the program on track.
To accomplish this there needs to be an assessment of what goals the organization wants to meet and what the mentor and mentee hope to get out of the experience as well. As you define these objectives, use SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) goal setting as a foundation when you outline these separate aims.
Mentorship programs can also be reputation-building opportunities for organizations. Through initiatives like workplace mentorship or other training for employees, a company demonstrates their commitment to their workers. Thus, companies often see a link between their values and mission and the objectives of a workplace mentoring program.
Purpose of mentoring in the workplace
While the outcomes of a workplace mentoring program can vary from organization to organization, some of the main goals are:
- Leadership training: helping skilled employees further develop their leadership abilities
- On-boarding of new hires: training new workers about the company and the expectations of management.
- Skill development: assisting employees to meet their career goals by honing new capabilities
- Succession planning: seasoned workers who will be moving into retirement can impart their knowledge and wisdom to those who will take over when they leave.
- Enhancing relationships among employees: building friendships and productive relationships among co-workers can lead to a healthier workplace.
- Employee retention: workers who perceive that the company cares about their career prospects and future are more likely to stay longer with an organization. Research done by Deloitte discovered that younger employees who are giving a mentoring opportunity are more likely to stay longer with that employer.
- Diversity promotion: mentorship programs can encourage employees from minority groups to take on more active roles.
- Reputation building: organizations who show a commitment to their employees’ development will develop a reputation as a company people want to work at.
Mentorship program guidelines
Once an organization has defined the goals, and they have a mentorship program in the workplace, leadership can also identify some key performance indicators. These indicators will be how the mentoring program is measured. Therefore, they need to be able to be broken down into a number. For example, if the goal is to improve the turnover rate then a company should have a way of measuring the retention rate. It is a good idea to track these numbers over time, including some assessment of what they were before the mentorship program began.
Company leadership may also want to look at the cost-value ratio. Define how much a mentoring program will cost the organization and compare it to the potential cost savings. This can particularly apply to employee retention. For those organizations with a high rate of turnover, reducing the number of employees leaving can save thousands of dollars. It has been estimated to cost about six to nine months’ salary to replace an employee when they leave.
There will also need to be a timeline set for the program. Most mentoring programs last between one and two years in a workplace setting. Determine what the right amount of time is based on the goals of the organization, mentee, and mentor.
It is important to pick the right kind of mentoring program manager. A good mentor program can appear to run itself, but that is usually due to the skill of the program manager. Consider how committed the manager is to the success of the program. Leadership should also ask whether the individual believes in mentorship as a way to further organizational goals. The more passion an employee has for mentoring, the more likely they will be able to sell the idea to others, including employees and leadership. An important note: when selecting a manager to operate the day-to-day running of a workplace mentoring program pick someone who is not already inundated with job-related tasks. Mentoring managers need to have the time and energy to devote to helping the program grow.
New participants will need some training to get started. Mentors and mentees who are just getting into the program will need some guidance to successfully navigate their way through the relationship. Some training can include communication techniques, goal setting, and leadership skills. Employees may also need some advice on setting boundaries and how they should help the mentor-mentee relationship progress.
Consider mentoring software to help refine and streamline your workplace mentorship program. Organizations who are looking for a simplified way to run their mentoring program can consider software, like Together. Mentoring software can help with registration and matching, as well as guide the scheduling and development process. A good software program will also be able to track and compile data about the program and mentor-mentee interaction, which simplifies reporting and measuring. Whether you are just getting started with your mentorship plans or are looking to revitalize a faltering workplace mentorship program, mentoring software can make the job easier.
Don’t be afraid to change. Some workplace mentoring programs will need to be adjusted as they grow. It is important not to be too tied to one way of doing things. Rather, management should allow for some flexibility to allow for changes to a mentorship program in the workplace, if it is needed.
Whether your organization has a workplace mentoring program or if they are still defining what they hope to achieve, having a vision and goals are the keys to success. As with any endeavor, a company should define objectives clearly and have suitable key performance indicators to measure the mentorship program.