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Mentorship

15 mentorship program ideas: How to structure a mentorship program

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. Here are some creative activities that you can do together to build on your connection.

Matthew Reeves

May 18, 2021

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. 

 

Why mentorship is important

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:

Ideas on how to structure a mentoring program

What you talk about during a mentor-mentee meeting depends on how the program is structured. There are several different types of mentorship programs

For example:

  • 1-on-1 mentorship between leaders and more junior employees (high potential programs, leadership development, succession planning).
  • Peer mentorship between employees at similar career stages (new hire buddy programs, connecting remote teams).
  • Group mentoring where a senior leader mentors several mentees (new manager training, onboarding, employee resource groups).

The goals behind mentoring programs can also vary. At Together, we see mentoring programs designed to:

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:

 

What are good mentoring topics?

Being prepared is one of the best ways to make the most of your time with your mentor or mentee and ensure 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.

What to discuss with a mentor

Some mentoring topics you may decide to cover include:

  • What skills you’re currently trying to develop
  • How you can move up in your career and take on new roles
  • Finding a work-life balance that propels your career without burning you out
  • How you can coach other employees to help them grow
  • How you can introduce more creativity in your role
  • How to manage-up with leadership
  • Setting long term and short term goals and making a path to achieving them

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What do you talk about in a mentoring meeting?

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 a mentoring agenda 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:

  • How can I improve my public speaking skills?
  • How did you get to your position in the company?
  • What changes would you suggest I make in my memo?
  • How do I ask my boss for a raise?
  • What is the promotion process at this company?

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. 


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Are you planning a mentorship program right now?

If you’re building your mentoring program you know that finding the perfect match for every team member is crucial. If the match isn’t good neither is the program. Using Together's mentoring platform organizations can pair hundreds (even thousands) with ease using our pairing algorithm. Each mentoring pair has access to sessions agendas and mentorship activities that make every conversation impactful. Begin your mentorship program for free today by starting a mentoring network and inviting your team members to join.

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15 mentorship activities that unlock new perspectives and encourage impactful discussion

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. Likewise, if you're planning your mentorship program, these ideas will help you encourage meaningful employee connection.

1. Mentees shadow their mentor

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.

2. Attend a conference together

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. 

3. Choose a book together and discuss it

There is no shortage of books offering career and life advice that a mentor and mentee could read together. There are also many resources to make consuming content easier. Try audiobooks or apps like Blinkist that summarize the key points. Discuss the author’s viewpoint, the positives and negatives of their perspective, and whether their advice will work in a practical setting. 

4. Pursue a volunteer activity

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. 

5. Attend a networking event

A key benefit of having a mentor is that they can expand your professional network. This can open up new opportunities. Your mentor may even sponsor you for a new role or promotion. 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. 

6. Get out of the office and nurture your creativity

Even though a workplace mentorship focuses largely on career topics, a mentor and mentee can spend time outside of work bonding. Go to an art exhibit, museum, gallery, theatre, music event, or any other creative event. Doing so can be a great way to foster a deeper connection. It can also open up discussions around bringing more creativity to your roles.

7. Complete a project together

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. If the mentor can lead their mentee for a short-term project (a couple of weeks or a month) it can open up new opportunities and discussions.

8. Grab a coffee and go for a walk

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. 

9. Share interesting articles to encourage discussion

Mentors can share interesting articles, blogs, or information that they feel a mentee might appreciate or learn from. They can also be a launch point for a discussion.

10. Share career stories

We learn best through stories. Both the mentor and mentee should take time to walk each other through their careers. Rather than listing off what’s on each other’s resumes talk about the challenges and success. What went well in your career? What challenges did you overcome? Did you have previous mentors who helped you? You have a story. Share it. It will lead to a rich conversation.

11. Have mentors sit in on a mentees presentation

Mentors should make an effort to attend a presentation where they can see their mentees in action. Afterward, they can provide feedback and coaching. This is a great opportunity for the mentor to see how their mentee operates in their day-to-day.  

12. Meet up with another mentor-mentee pair

Go out for lunch with another mentor-mentee pair to learn from them and expand your networks. Ask them what activities they do together and see if you get any new ideas. This is a great opportunity to see what works with other groups.

13. Provide feedback on each other's work

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.  

14. Take a class together

Learning is a life-long skill. Mentors can teach mentees to adopt the attitude of perpetual learning by attending a class or workshop together. It can be a professional class like a Toast Masters or it can be something more casual like a pottery class. It’s hard not to bond when you’re covered in clay!

15. Say goodbye in style

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. 


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