Over 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a workplace mentorship program in place, according to The Atlantic. How many of those are really effective has not yet been studied but the impact of a bad mentorship relationship has the potential to cause physical and psychological issues.
Essentially, a mentoring program is more than just an opportunity for two co-workers to meet; it is an opportunity for growth, change, learning and connection. It serves as a company learning opportunity by teaching new and upcoming employees the ins and outs of the workplace culture. It is a primary learning opportunity where the mentee can be trained about company policies, practices, and other workplace expectations.
Yet, this only applies if the mentorship program is an effective one. So, here are some tips on developing a mentoring program that makes a difference.
Have a plan
If a workplace mentorship program is going to be effective, it should have a focus or goal, our mentoring software helps ensure this is setup clearly and correctly from day 1. Decide what role the mentorship program will play in the company. Also, have a plan for the operation and management of the program.
One of the most efficient ways to ensure a mentorship program runs smoothly is to buy fully capable mentorship software. The Together program is able to help companies and organizations plan for and implement mentorship programs for their workplaces. From registration to pairing, scheduling and reporting the Together software has been designed to improve current mentorship programs and to put into action new ones. Those mentors and mentees who are committed to investing extra time over and above their work duties should be made to feel appreciated by ensuring the program process runs as smoothly and effectively as possible.
Get a good match
When it comes to making a mentor-mentee match, be cognizant of any issues that may have an impact. Female employees or those from a different race or culture may be uncomfortable being paired with someone they cannot relate to.
It is also important to set aside safe space in the workplace for the mentor and mentee to meet. Program managers should be committed to checking in about two weeks after a match has been made to see if the mentor and mentee are connecting or if a rematch is necessary.
As well, a mentee needs to be the one that really guides the process. They should have a clear idea what it is they are looking to gain from being involved in the program. Encourage them to work with their mentor to set goals and boundaries for the relationship. In the end, a workplace mentorship program’s goal is to help the mentor become a better employee and individual.
The mentee should have a focus on what they would like to get out of the relationship. Is it personal development? Career advancement? Skill learning? The two can work together to define the goals and develop a plan. A mentor should be able to help the mentee set smaller goals and steps to help them reach the goal. They should also be able to offer support and guidance through the process. Effective mentors can help mentees by cheering them on and helping the mentee be accountable for meeting the goals.
For this element to be successful, the mentor needs to be skilled and knowledgeable about the company and resources available for career development or other similar sources, so they can offer some direction.
A mentorship program can demand extra time and commitment from participants. To offset any hesitation a potential candidate may have, it is important to set boundaries. This applies to defining the time and effort involved as well as to how the relationship should progress. Mentorship is not meant to be a relationship that mirrors counselling, therapy or career patronage. Both the mentor and the mentee need to set boundaries to avoid any of these types of situations.
In addition, many potential mentors may be reluctant to invest in the program because they are afraid it will take up too much time. Mentorship program managers need to be the ones to set boundaries for the amount of extra time demanded of mentors. This will help improve participation by assuring employees that they will not be expected to give more than they feel they can afford to.
Crucial mentorship skills
Attracting the right candidates will go a long way to the success of a workplace mentorship program.
Mentors who are involved in the success of their mentee and who are willing to invest extra time and attention will be central to the success of the program. In the same way, those participants who are interested in growing either personally or professionally will be trying to gain all they can from the mentorship program.
One way to tell if a new employee fits this mold is to see how engaged they are with the industry, the company and the world around them. If they are looking for ways to expand their horizons, give back through volunteering or charitable works or become more ingrained in the workplace culture by joining activities they will likely make the most out of a mentor relationship.
The effectiveness of a mentorship program revolves around a connection between two or more individuals, which means that some training in communication methods and relationship-building techniques can be helpful. Incorporate into the program strategy a brief training session that participants can complete before they are paired. Although such a session may come with some extra costs or time commitment, mentorship participants who have built up their communication and relationship skills will make the difference between a program and one that falters.
Assessing a mentorship program
In any effective workplace mentorship situation, there should be some assessment that goes into determining the healthiness of the program. From tracking participant involvement and satisfaction to keeping track of how often the mentors and mentees meet, gathering data on the program is essential to confirming it is worthwhile.
Any mentorship program needs to have structure from the very beginning so that both parties are aware of what is being asked of them. Mentorship program software can help set this structure from the outset. One of the top elements of the Together program is its scheduling feature. With scheduling, mentorship program managers are able to see how often the mentor and mentee meet and how much time they invest into the relationship. This is a useful tool when it comes to evaluating the success of the program as well as ensuring that both sides are meeting their commitment the mentorship program.
Although many workplaces have mentorship programs, maintaining their health and effectiveness can take some extra effort. However, with a good strategy in place, some participant training, and regular data collection and assessment, companies can be sure their mentorship programs are an effective way to cultivate positive workplace culture.