For small businesses, mentorship is crucial to their success. How do we know this? Because 92 percent of small business owners attribute their growth to mentorship-related factors, and 61 percent of SMB owners are mentors themselves.
What about enterprises, though? 'Small businesses’ are defined as being smaller than 20 employees, a manageble size for a mentorship program. But what about businesses with over 100 employees, or even 1,000 employees? Do they still need mentors? More to the point, is mentorship even possible on that scale?
The answer is an unequivocal yes. Large enterprises can and should have mentorship programs, and there are a few key things to keep in mind when starting one. Let's discuss the basics of enterprise mentoring programs, from their benefits to how to get started.
What is an enterprise mentoring program?
Believe it or not, enterprise mentoring is very similar to small business mentoring – at least, in its goals and objectives for the mentoring program. Within an enterprise, mentorship is a connection between two or more employees, made with the goal of transferring skills, providing support, and creating opportunities for growth.
Mentors and mentees can be from any level or department in the company, and the mentor/mentee relationship can be formal or informal. The key is that both parties should have something to offer and gain from the relationship.
There are a few different ways this can happen:
- One-to-one mentoring – The most traditional method of mentoring, in which one mentor and mentee enter a mentoring relationship with the aim of guidance and support that is typically in the area of the mentor’s expertise.
- Group mentoring – When coaching and mentoring are needed to impact more mentees in a shorter time frame, group mentoring can be a more efficient way to go. Group mentoring also allows for social learning, as participants learn from one another in addition to their mentor.
- Virtual mentoring – As many enterprises are now spread out over different locations, virtual mentoring can be a great way to connect employees who might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Virtual mentoring gives greater flexibility for both mentors and mentees.
- Team mentoring – In team mentoring, teams of employees are mentored by a team leader or manager. This type of mentoring is often used to develop skills such as problem-solving and decision-making.
- Reverse mentoring – Sometimes, a more senior employee is mentored by a junior-level employee in an area such as technology or social media. This can be a way to share knowledge and develop leadership skills in both employees.
The key difference between small business mentoring and enterprise mentoring is simply scale. With so many employees, enterprises need to have a system in place to manage and monitor mentoring relationships. Without a system, it’s impossible to scale a mentorship program. This can make the process too daunting for some managers, but the effort is well worth it.
Why enterprises need mentoring programs
Since enterprises have hundreds of employees around every corner, skills transfer must happen naturally, right? It must be easy to find support in the enterprise environment – right?
Unfortunately, the immensity of an enterprise can sometimes work against employees. With so many people, it can be difficult to find the right person to ask for help or advice. It's easy to feel lost and unsupported; in fact, only a third of US workers feel recognized and appreciated by their employers.
If you've ever worked for a company that doesn't give much thought to its employees, you know how demoralizing it can be. There's nowhere to turn for help. No one wants to take the risk of asking for too much lest they be seen as a burden.
A good mentoring program provides employees with the sense of community and connection they need. It gives them someone to go to for advice, support, and guidance – someone who understands the company culture and knows the ropes. Mentors can help employees navigate difficult situations, develop their skills, and expand their networks.
In addition, a mentoring program can help enterprises achieve their goals. When employees are supported and feel appreciated, they are more likely to be productive and innovative. A good mentoring program can also improve employee retention rates, as employees who feel valued are less likely to leave.
Look like an enterprise, but act like a startup
Ever wondered why startups have such a great reputation for morale, culture, and innovation? It's not just because they have ping-pong tables and free food.
It's because they're constantly learning and growing. They're always trying new things, experimenting, and taking risks. This type of environment is possible only when employees feel safe to take risks and are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
This is where a good mentoring program comes in. It can help create an environment that is conducive to learning and risk-taking. A mentoring program teaches employees how to give and receive feedback, how to problem-solve, and how to work collaboratively. These are essential skills for any employee, but especially for those in a leadership position.
Startups also tend to attract new talent with their exciting development opportunities and innovative culture. Enterprises need to attract talent in different ways; they can do so with robust and meaningful mentoring programs – one that offers growth, progression, and a sense of community.
How to introduce an enterprise mentoring program at your company
It's not impossible to create your own enterprise mentoring program, but there's a lot of time to be saved by using our mentorship program platform. It's why we exist – to make the process of launching a world-class mentorship program less daunting for HR and L&D professionals.
Let's run through a quick how-to guide for introducing an enterprise mentoring program at your company.
1. What metric are you trying to impact?
Every endeavour should start with clear goals and objectives. This is especially important within enterprises, where you may be pursuing multiple goals at once. When introducing a mentoring program, you should have a specific metric in mind that you want to impact.
Some common objectives of enterprise mentoring programs are skill development, career growth, reduced employee turnover, and innovation. Choose the goal that is most important to your company and focus your efforts there.
To do this, try answering the following questions of your enterprise or department:
- What skills do we want our employees to develop?
- What career paths are available for our employees?
- What is our talent pool like for future hires?
- How can we reduce employee turnover?
- Is any of our talent currently underrepresented?
- How can we increase innovation within our company?
Once your objectives are clear, you can start to design your program around them. For instance, if you want to focus on skill development, you might require that all mentors have a certain level of expertise in the skill they are teaching.
2. How will you match employees?
Matching employees manually is manageable if there are >25 employees participating. But when you have 50-100+ you can’t match employees with any real consideration. It’d be random at best – and what employee would want a randomly selected mentor? They want relevant mentors.
To make sure every employee has a meaningful mentor (at scale) you need a mentor matching tool. Our Together platform has a powerful pairing algorithm that takes into account employee skills, experience, and goals to make near-perfect mentor-mentee pairings. (No pairing can ever be perfect, but they can come close with the right tool!)
3. Resource to support mentoring relationships
Breaking the ice can be awkward. Developing a deep and focused relationship on growth can be even harder. A successful mentoring program includes meeting agendas that act as a guide for mentoring pairs. They include discussion questions, articles, videos, and activities.
Activities like these keep the conversions on track and lead to better outcomes. And, with the right discussion topics, mentors and mentees can hit it off whilst learning more about one another and their professional goals.
How to quickly launch your enterprise mentoring program
Feeling overwhelmed? That's understandable. Considering all the things you need to do in order to start a mentoring program, it can be daunting. But don't worry – we at Together are here to help.
Our platform makes it easy for enterprises to get started with mentoring. We provide everything you need, from matching employees to providing resources for mentors and mentees.
How does Together’s mentorship paltform work?
The process for launching your program with Together is super simple:
1. You (the HR manager) load up your list of participating employees, before inviting them via email to register as either a mentor or mentee on our secure platform. Some enterprises give their employees the choice, while others predetermine who will mentor and who will be mentored.
2. Once they’ve registered, our algorithm can automatically match them with a suitable mentor or mentee, taking into account their skills, experience, and goals.
3. Pairs will then receive prompts to schedule a meetup with their mentor using our simple and completely integrable calendar.
4. Finally, your pairs are left to run with what they've been given. It's easy to keep an eye on pairings via our monitoring tools; you can access feedback from each session, session scores, learning outcomes, and more. This data helps your pairings stay healthy – and it increases your chance of getting buy-in for future mentoring programs.
Enterprises can have nice things, too; that's the key takeaway here. It just requires a little more coordination, which you can achieve through our platform. Mentorship isn't just a small business luxury, it's a powerful tool that can help every team grow – no matter your size.
If you’re ready to make mentoring a reality within your enterprise or department, reach out to us at Together. We’d love to make it happen.