Mentorship programs are an effective way to retain top talent, promote employee engagement, and provide guidance to individuals within organizations.
Government agencies can highly benefit from implementing a mentorship program, whether it's a traditional one-on-one program or a group-oriented approach.
Whether your goal is to improve job satisfaction, enhance the skills and knowledge of employees, or create a culture of collaboration, mentorship programs can be incredibly effective in any sector, such as agriculture, education, healthcare, housing, or immigration.
But designing an effective mentorship program for government agencies requires collaboration between departments, clear communication, and tools that make managing the program easy and transparent.
This guide will walk you through the steps in designing a mentorship program for government agencies using Together’s platform.
Why do you want to start a government agency mentoring program?
Consider what you want to get out of the mentorship program. Do you want to increase job satisfaction among employees? Or are you looking to promote collaboration between departments?
Some goals that you can set for your mentoring program are:
- Reducing employee turnover
- Supporting career advancement
- Encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing
- Increasing employee engagement
- Training high-potential employees
Among the most common use cases of mentorship in government agencies are diversity and employee resource group (ERG), employee retention, learning and development, and remote work.
Step 1: Decide on a 1-on-1 or Group program
Depending on the goals of the program, a 1-on-1 program focuses on the individual guidance and career development of each mentee, while a group program allows for greater collaboration and peer-to-peer learning.
The Louisiana Public Health Department, for example, runs a 1-on-1 professional development program.
Alternatively, the Idaho Government's Division of Behavioral Health runs a group mentoring program to help staff across the division build stronger connections and strengthen the bonds across teams.
For example, career counselling and job shadowing are more suited for 1-on-1 programs, while diversity and inclusion initiatives and high-potential employee training can be achieved through a group program.
Step 2: Decide on a Cohort or Evergreen program
If you're choosing a 1-on-1 program, you'll need to decide if the program should be cohort-based or evergreen.
In the classic cohort model, participants commit to an established timeline, usually four to 12 months, and are expected to complete the program within that time frame. While it allows for greater accountability and progress, it also comes with the challenge of having to recruit and match participants for each cohort each time around.
The evergreen mentorship program eliminates this problem as it runs continuously and allows participants to join whenever they are ready, providing more flexibility to their schedules. Larger agencies may find it more practical to use the evergreen model, as they can spread out the recruitment and matching process over a longer period of time.
Step 3: Name your program and add details
Naming your mentorship program sets the tone and direction for the program, so it's essential to choose a name that is both descriptive and meaningful.
The name should capture the essence of what you are trying to achieve while being memorable, easy to pronounce, and unique enough so that employees can easily identify with your program.
Some great examples of program names include “The Pathfinder Program”, “Rising Stars”, and “Leaders of Tomorrow”.
Step 4: Configure the registration questionnaire and matching rules
Laying out the registration questionnaire and matching rules is a pivotal step to ensure that the program runs smoothly.
In Together's platform, you can add up to 9 custom fields and questions to the registration questionnaire for the mentee and the mentor and set up matching rules and priorities based on characteristics, interests, and goals.
Each field or question can be categorized as matchmaking (affects the matching process) or non-matchmaking (purely informational). Some data, such as employee records and hard skills, can even be imported from the agency’s HRIS integration to save time and effort.
Some questions you can include in your registration questionnaire are:
- What motivated you to pursue mentorship in the government sector?
- What are your career goals within the government agency and how do you think mentorship can help you achieve them?
- What are the specific areas or skills you would like to develop through mentorship?
- How much time are you able to commit to the mentorship program, including regular meetings with your mentor?
- What are the most important qualities you are looking for in a mentor?
- What do you think are some of the unique challenges or opportunities in the government sector that could be addressed through mentorship?
Step 5: Prepare your program for launch
As you approach the launch of your mentorship program, it’s crucial to ensure that all the pieces of the puzzle are in place. From setting the registration rules to managing software integrations, many tasks need to be taken care of before you can go live.
Using Together’s platform can simplify this process, as it automates much of the administrative tasks and allows you to customize your program’s settings according to your specific goals and objectives.
Review email notifications
Having a system in place to introduce and promote your mentorship program is essential in keeping your participants informed in each stage of the program, from registration to progress updates.
With Together, you can easily customize email notifications and send automated reminders to mentors and mentees. Download these email templates designed to promote your mentoring program and customize them according to your needs.
Set rules for who can participate in your program
While most mentorship programs are open to everyone, some agencies may prefer to limit participation or set specific rules for who can join. Together’s platform allows you to choose between Organization-Wide Access (available to everyone on the platform) and Advanced Access (available only to specific users).
If you’re looking to create a more exclusive program, the Advanced Access feature can be used to set access with a rule or by user to restrict program access.
For example, you may choose to limit participation to certain departments or make the program available only to employees with a certain number of years of experience.
To make things extremely convenient for both the admins and participants, Together’s platform allows you to integrate with existing systems, from HRIS to calendar and meeting tools.
Set up the pairing process
After opening the program for registration, pairing mentors and mentees make up the most crucial part of the program. Together platform lists down five steps in completing the Pairing Setup:
- Reviewing the Pairing Readiness Report (to check the likelihood of pairing success)
- Reviewing the pairing email templates (to finalize the email invites and reminders)
- Setting up the tasks for new pairings (to automatically assign tasks for successful mentor-mentee pairing)
- Check the integrations (if you haven’t tested them)
- Contact your Customer Support Advisor (optional but highly recommended to ensure a smooth launch)
Review program content
For maximum engagement, it’s essential to provide your mentors and mentees with relevant program content. With the Together platform, you can add resources, agendas, and tasks to streamline your program.
Under the Resources tab, you can compile a library of resources, such as online articles, videos, activities, and templates, just by uploading the URL. For each session, you can create a meeting agenda for the mentor and the mentee, so they are guided every step of the way.
Step 6: Launch pairing
Once everything is set up according to your preferences, it’s time to start pairing!
In Together's platform, it's as easy as clicking the Turn on Pairing button to initiate the pairing process, whether your program is Admin-led, User-led with Approval, or User-led.
- Admin-led: allows admins to assign (either manually or automatically) pairings to Staged Pairings or Active Pairings. You can first assign a pairing to Staged Pairings before moving it to Active Pairings by approving it. Note that email notifications will be sent to the mentors and mentees only when they’re transferred to Active Pairings.
- User-led with Approval: allows admins to invite mentees to submit their mentor preferences and have the mentors approve the request before it's officially active.
- User-led: same as above but without the need for the mentor’s approval
In case you need to turn off or pause pairing, you can do so by clicking the Turn off Pairing button under the Pairing page.
Step 7: Monitor and report on your program
Without regular monitoring and assessment, it’s nearly impossible to measure the success of your mentorship program and identify areas for improvement.
Together provides a comprehensive suite of analytics tools that can help you track the progress of your program over time, such as:
- Session Report: Data from each session, such as completion rate and average mentee/mentor feedback score, provide an overall picture of how the program is performing.
- Registration Report: Keep track of the number of participants who have registered for the program as well as charts of their responses to assess the reach of your program.
- Pairing Report: The number of active, staged, and past pairings, as well as whether the participants think their pairing is great, are shown in one place to provide insights on pairing completeness and satisfaction.
- Skills & Goals Report: Compile the highly sought-after skills and most frequently mentioned goals from Registration, Self-Assessments, Session Topics, and Final Self-Assessment.
Leveraging the power of mentorship programs is one of the best ways to drive employee engagement, increase retention, promote collaboration, and enhance learning and development within government agencies.
However, it can be difficult to implement an effective program that yields your desired results without the right strategy and a robust platform.
Using Together’s platform to simplify the process outlined in this blog puts your organization in the best position to design and launch a successful mentorship program.
Contact your Account Executive to discuss how to get started on Together’s platform!