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Building your mentoring program

How To Attract More Mentors To Your Mentoring Program

At Together, we help all types of companies run world-class mentoring programs. One of the most common challenges we hear from our program administrators is that they can't get enough mentors to sign up. It can be challenging to get busy executives on board to invest time in helping more junior employees grow. But it isn't impossible. This article is your go-to guide for attracting mentors to your program.

Ryan Carruthers

October 19, 2021

“We’re starting an internal mentorship program, but we’re struggling to get enough mentors on board.” 

We hear this challenge a lot from People Leaders, L&D teams, HR managers, DEIB professionals, and other program administrators trying to bring the benefits of mentorship to their organizations. It’s a tough task. 

If you’re struggling to get mentors into your program or are proactively seeking ways to address this challenge–we want to help.

There’s a lot that goes into running a successful mentoring program. But finding enough mentors–ones that are excited and committed to their mentee’s growth–might be a program administrator’s biggest hurdle. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know:

  • Why you don’t need a 1:1 ratio of mentors and mentees to run a great program.
  • How to successfully attract lots of high-quality leaders to be mentors.
  • How top companies build their mentoring programs.
  • Where to find even more best practices for running a high-impact mentoring program.

Insights from this article come from real strategies and advice that we share with leading companies running world-class mentoring programs. For a full collection of best practices, check out our Tips From Actual Mentoring Administrators and The Definitive Guide to High Potential Talent Programs.

Let’s dive in!


The quality of your mentors determines the success of your mentoring program

The success of your mentoring program is the accumulation of all the advice, guidance, and much-needed straight-talk mentees receive from their mentors. Each time a mentor gives their mentee a timely word of encouragement or actionable advice, your mentoring program gains more credibility. You helped enable it by pairing them together, after all. 

Program administrators face the unique challenge of convincing these great mentors to commit their time and knowledge to help other employees grow.

For that reason, you want leaders across your organization that have a reputation for developing top talent to be a part of your program. They’ll make it more impactful. But it can be challenging to get them on board, especially with time commitments ranging between three months to over a year. Consequently, program administrators face the unique challenge of convincing these great mentors to commit their time and knowledge to help other employees grow.

However, if you get it right, the word that influential executives or leaders are looking for mentees will spread across your organization and attract droves of employees wanting to be mentees in your program. It’s the best promotion for your mentoring program.

Conversely, when not done right, it can be detrimental. Our Customer Success Director, Matthew Sicoly shares,

“The quickest way for a mentorship program to fail is not having enough mentors to support your mentees. But there are strategies to help you solve this.”

What are those strategies? There are four. But before we outline them, we need you to understand that you don’t need a mentor for every mentee.


You don’t need a 1-to-1 ratio of mentors to mentees

Many admins think they need a mentor for every mentee, but that isn’t always possible or necessary. There will always be fewer leaders than employees. 

For that reason, leading organizations are adapting the traditional 1-on-1 mentoring model to any of the following:

  • Group mentoring programs
  • Peer-to-peer mentoring programs
  • Asking mentors to take on multiple mentees
  • Running an Evergreen program (mentees can continually match with new mentors at any time instead of having a finite pairing period.)

All of these methods offer unique advantages. Peer-to-peer and group mentoring, for example, are more conducive to collaboration. If one of the goals or objectives of your mentoring program is to increase collaboration between employees, these programs are a great choice. 

The point is: don’t lose sleep over not having enough mentors. You have plenty of ways to mitigate the risk. 

Now that we’ve outlined a few different ways to structure your mentoring program, let’s look at four strategies to attract more mentors. 


Four strategies to attract mentors to your mentoring program

Each of the four strategies below is fairly broad, so don’t just read each heading and think, “yep, got it.” Dig into each and note down some of the specific tactics you want to leverage.

Many admins think they need a mentor for every mentee, but that isn’t always possible or necessary.

Doing so will help you when you’re in the thick of talking to different employees and leaders selling the idea of mentorship to them.

1. Start registration early

When you’re starting a mentorship program, it’s critical to generate early excitement. Although it’s important to get both mentors and mentees on board early, administrators should start with recruiting mentors. 

Matthew Sicoly, our Director of CS, reaffirms how important it is to focus on getting mentors: 

“The biggest mistake administrators can make is not putting  enough time and effort into recruiting mentors.”

When you get mentors on board, they’ll be your early advocates for the program. Let mentees know some of the mentors they could potentially pair them with, and they’ll be eager to sign up.

2. Promote your program through different channels

We’ve just covered the importance of getting mentors on board before mentees. Now let’s talk about specific tactics to market your program. A successful launch will reach participants in multiple ways. You’ll have to take a page from a marketer’s playbook and remember the Marketing Rule of Seven: someone needs to hear or see your message at least seven times before they buy from you.

So let’s tap into our inner marketer and explore several ways you can promote your mentorship program. Make a note of any that stick out to you:

  • Send out an email on behalf of an executive.
  • Send an automated email from Together’s platform.
  • Leave a note in relevant Slack or Microsoft teams channels.
  • Put it in your company profile bio.
  • Remind managers about the program, so they share it with their teams.
  • Promote the programs during a company town hall or include a slide at the end of a presentation.
  • Post it on your company’s social media.
  • Posters or bulletins around the office.
  • Talk 1-on-1 with influential leaders and encourage them to join your mentoring program (more on that in the next strategy).
Give participants every opportunity to sign up. They’ll thank you later!

Get creative with your messaging. You may feel like you’re over-communicating, but you’re probably doing the right amount. Your colleagues are busy, and many will need reminding. 

Additionally, you shouldn’t feel bad about getting the word out. Employees stand to benefit a lot from your mentoring program. You wouldn’t want someone to miss signing up and complain to you that they didn’t hear anything about it.

The point is, give participants every opportunity to sign up. They’ll thank you later!

3. Common objections and how to overcome them

After leaders start to see that a mentoring program is in the works and are encouraged to join, some will push back. There’s a myriad of objections they can use, such as: 

  • “I’m too busy.”
  • “I’ll invest all this time, and I won’t really get anything out of it.”
  • “I’m not qualified to mentor someone else.”
  • “Employees don’t need mentors.”
  • “Mentorship should happen “organically,” not through a formal program.”
  • “A mentorship program won’t improve our bottom line.”

Some of these objections are frustrating, while others we can empathize with. Let’s look at how to respond to each one:

Objection How to respond
“I’m too busy.” Mentors don’t have to meet with their mentees every week. Usually, mentoring programs ask mentors and mentees to meet once a month. By booking recurring meetings in advance, it holds you both accountable to meet and makes planning easier.
“I invest all this time, and I won’t really get anything out of it.”

Mentorship is a two-way street. We frequently hear that mentors get just as much from the experience as their mentees. 

The benefits of being a mentor include:

  • Validate leadership skills 
  • Build a reputation as an advisor
  • Grow communication and coaching skills
  • Gain new perspectives
  • Give back and uncover hidden talent
“I’m not qualified to mentor someone else.”

“A great mentor doesn’t just provide guidance and answers during career transitions or sticky situations; they also provide motivation and inspiration to help the mentee get to the next level and fulfill their potential.”

The word mentorship may bring to mind images of Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi or Luke Skywalker and Yoda. These images can make mentors feel like they have large shoes to fill (or small ones in Yoda’s case.) You likely have more experience than them. Experiences that seem trivial to a mentor may be eye-opening for a mentee.

“Employees don’t need mentors.”

In a mentoring relationship, both the mentee and the mentors stand to experience a myriad of benefits. You’ll gain new skills as a mentor, but for the mentee, it can be career-changing. 

Share with them the benefits of being a mentee:

  • Learn the workplace culture
  • Advance their career
  • Networking opportunities
  • Work through problems
  • Knowledge transfer opportunities
“Mentorship should happen “organically,” not through a formal program.”

A formal mentoring program makes it easy for employees to connect. Talented employees crave development and want to have people in their network they can go to for guidance, advice, third-party feedback, and counsel. But it can be awkward to ask someone to be your mentor. For that reason, formal mentoring programs make it much easier for employees to access career-changing mentorship.

 

“A mentorship program won’t improve our bottom line.”

Organizations have a lot to gain from running a mentoring program–the ROI can be significant.  The cost is minimal compared to organizing training events with outside consultants. Some of the benefits include:

  • Attracting and retaining top talent
  • Building more inclusive cultures
  • Promoting internal mobility and career advancement
  • Reducing turnover
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • And much more


To learn more about how actual program administrators run successful mentoring programs check out our webinar roundtable. We spoke with some of the most effective program administrators we’ve worked with and got them to share some of their best practices. It’s worth a listen.

4. Give mentors everything they need to feel confident

One of the common objections listed above was that some mentors might not feel qualified. More likely than not, they’ll actually be a great mentor. As a program administrator, you can give mentors confidence in their ability to mentor others by providing them with helpful resources. You can equip them with:

  • Agendas. Give them meeting agendas to help structure their conversations. Our general program template on Together’s mentoring platform includes several customizable agendas on topics like goal setting, talking through workplace challenges, networking, and role shadowing. These agendas help break the ice and keep their conversations focused on growth.
  • Sample questions. Similar to session agendas, you can provide mentors with sample questions they can ask their mentees. Likewise, share questions the mentees should ask their mentors
  • Tips. Mentors will love to get tips and advice to help them help their mentees. Give them frameworks to use, like the SMART goal setting framework. They can leverage these frameworks with their mentees during their sessions. To learn more about SMART goal setting and other tips for building a successful mentoring relationship, we have two other articles for you to check out: How to Build a Successful Mentor Relationship and Getting the Most Out of a Mentoring Relationship
  • Connect them with other mentors. As mentors get more experienced in being a mentor while meeting with their mentees, they’ll pick up tips and tricks. Connect these mentors together and encourage them to share what they’ve learned. In doing so, you’ll encourage peer mentorship, which will (1) further provide mentors with more value, and (2) reinforce why mentorship is so important for the organization. It builds a coaching culture where everyone pushes each other to grow.

Ready to run a world-class mentoring program?

This article dove deep into some of the most pressing challenges People Leaders, L&D teams, HR managers, and DEIB professionals face when starting a mentorship program. 

It’s a challenging job to have. It requires getting multiple stakeholders involved and onboard. At Together, it’s our mission to help organizations build career-changing mentorship programs. 

That’s why we have a whole platform built to make everything from registration to pairing to reporting to scaling your mentoring program easy. 

If you’re using a spreadsheet to pair dozens of employees, you need to check out how we can make your life a whole lot easier. 

Book a demo today to see how leading organizations run their mentoring programs. You’ll join companies like Airbnb, Randstad, Discovery Channel, Kellogg’s, and the Swiss Government.

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Download our Whitepaper on Best Practices for Running A Mentorship Program

We draw from the first-hand experience of managers at various companies leading mentoring programs and our own expertise to outline the best practices for running a mentorship program. This white paper is a comprehensive guide to help you build a world-class mentoring program.