Building a successful workplace mentoring program takes time, planning, and commitment. But it doesn’t have to be all work and no fun. Some of the most engaging activities for mentors and mentees can be excellent teaching opportunities.
Research has found that today’s employees are looking for career paths that help them develop their skills and expand their networks. They also want to work for companies that genuinely care about employee satisfaction. Mentoring is an effective way to make coming to work a more rewarding experience. Nine out of 10 workers with mentors have higher levels of job satisfaction.
Moreover, nearly 40 percent of employees who don’t have mentoring relationships have thought about leaving their position in the last few months. The benefits of mentoring can't be ignored. Formal mentorship programs can be a tool that:
There are more types of mentorship plans beyond just one-on-one mentoring that pairs experienced mentors with junior employees. Many high-impact mentoring programs utilize informal mentoring relationships, mentoring pairs from employees of different business units, different mentorship plans with all levels of experience employees, and more. All successful mentoring programs have an intense focus on creating meaningful mentoring pairs that lead to stronger corporate culture.
Successful pairings are based on the compatibility of the mentor and mentee, but the topics they discuss during each session are equally important. Let's explore what successful mentoring relationships cover in their sessions together:
Being prepared is one of the best ways to make the most of your time with your mentor or mentee and ensure a the effects of mentorship leave a positive impact. Knowing what you want to talk about and how to express yourself will make meetings go smoothly.
Consider listing out some topics that you want to discuss with your mentor before the meeting. A structured mentoring plan will ensure that you both feel productive about your time together.
Some topic areas you may decide to cover include:
Meeting someone for the first time in a one-on-one situation can be nerve-racking. Building up trust and rapport with a mentor or mentee takes time. Setting up some structure for meetings is an excellent way to keep the conversation going. Prepare some questions for the session that fits into one of the mentoring topic categories, such as:
Approach your meetings like you would in any situation where you are meeting someone new; Ask questions to get to know them better. Having a list of questions for your mentor or mentee in mind will help you avoid the first meeting jitters. It can also be a great starting point for some productive discussions between both of you.
Getting to know your mentor or mentee can be a fun process. Here are some creative activities that you can do together to build on your connection.
Job shadowing in workplace mentorships can be a great opportunity to learn from an experienced employee. Mentees following mentors around for a day can help them gain insight into the company, senior positions and responsibilities in the company, and help them set career goals. This mentoring process can also work both ways. Reverse mentoring is where a mentor shadows their mentee to gain an understanding of their world.
Going to a conference together, even if virtually, can be a bonding and learning experience. Mentors and mentees can attend presentations and discuss it afterwards. Spending time together doing more than talking but learning together will enhance the mentor relationship.
There is no shortage of books offering career and life advice that a mentor and mentee could read together. Then discuss the author’s viewpoint, the positives and negatives of their perspective, and whether their advice will work in a practical setting.
Working together on a common cause can cultivate a deeper connection between a mentor and mentee. Select a charity that you both support and spend some time volunteering at the organization.
One advantage of workplace mentoring experiences is that they can expand a mentee’s network. Consider attending a networking event together such as a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. These experiences can be beneficial to both a mentor and mentee.
Even though a workplace mentorship focuses largely on career topics, a mentor and mentee can spend time outside of work bonding. Taking in a show together or attending a local art exhibit can be a great way to create a deeper connection.
Consider a project that allows a mentor and mentee to work alongside each other. It could be researching or writing an article together or even a company committee that they could join together.
Not every mentoring meeting needs to take place at the office. Slip away for a lunch out or grab a coffee and chat about non-work-related things.
Mentors can share interesting articles, blogs, or information that they feel a mentee might appreciate or learn from.
The connection between a mentor and mentee is often a strong one. Celebrating milestones and achievements is a great way to cultivate a positive connection.
Mentors should make an effort to attend a presentation where they can see their mentee in action. However, save the critique for a less public space.
Go out for lunch with another mentor-mentee to learn from each other and expand your networks. Ask them what activities they do together and see if you get any new ideas.
Mentors and mentees should be given an opportunity to see each other in action. A mentee can learn presentation skills by watching their mentor deliver one. A mentor can offer some pointers after they see how their mentee handles public speaking situations.
Learning is a life-long skill. Mentors can teach mentees to adopt the attitude of perpetual learning by attending a class or workshop together.
Most mentorships end within a year or two. When it is time for it to end, plan a celebration to mark the occasion. It is a great time for a mentor to tell a mentee how far they’ve come.
There may be many more activity ideas that can build rapport between a mentor and mentee as well as serve as a learning experience. It is important to understand the goals of the mentorship and the program so that you can create a list of appropriate activities for mentoring matches.