In our previous article on where we outlined why you need more than a communication plan to recruit mentors, we addressed the importance of defining your mentor recruitment problem and determining the root cause(s).
We also shared 4 common challenges mentoring program managers face when trying to get mentors to sign up:
- Knowledge & skills
But you didn’t think we’d leave you hanging, did you? No way!
In this article, we match mentor recruitment strategies to the 4 common challenges to help you get on the right track with your mentor recruitment.
14 Actionable tactics to attract more mentors to your mentoring program
If you’re launching a mentoring program for the first time, it can be daunting to try and get the perfect balance of mentors and mentees. From our experience, it isn’t that hard to attract mentees. But recruiting mentors is tricky. Here are 14 effective ways to make the idea of being a mentor irresistible.
1. Create personas (motivation & awareness)
One of the best ways to recruit mentors is to understand them deeply. To do this, you need to build personas.
Personas are fictional characters— created based on your research— to represent the types of people you want as mentors.
Creating personas helps you understand mentor needs, goals & motivations.
Use this information to craft segmented recruitment campaigns that resonate with potential mentors at a personal level.
2. Consider alternate communication channels (awareness)
The way people communicate is changing. Email communications are becoming less effective, and younger generations are migrating to channels like Slack, Teams, WeChat, Text, and more.
Some corporations even have a podcast or an internal social media platform that can help you reach a broader audience.
If creating communications for multiple channels seems overwhelming, get help from your communications department, employee resource groups, or current participants.
This can be a good way for mentees who are working on marketing and communication skills to practice. If your company uses gigs, create one and elicit volunteers to help you.
3. Build champion networks (awareness & motivation)
Champions are people who repeatedly show up because they believe in the power of mentoring.
Let’s face it, repeated emails coming from a generic email box or even from a senior leader will have diminishing effectiveness.
Leveraging mentoring champions helps potential mentors understand the benefits from a personal perspective. Personal experiences resonate on an emotional level, giving social proof to the benefits of your program.
Champions also have their own networks that they influence, amplifying your message for you.
4. Partner up (awareness & motivation)
Think about the people and communities who influence your ideal mentors.
Identify who they trust and where they already engage. Consider ERGs, corporate events, corporate sports leagues, clubs, or volunteer activities.
Partnering up with the leaders of those communities benefits them, your program, and community members.
5. Anchor mentoring to other development programs (availability, awareness & knowledge & skills)
Ask yourself: are there existing programs that could benefit from incorporating mentoring to solidify learning and drive accountability?
People don’t have time to participate in every program, so anchoring mentoring to other development activities gives employees the maximum benefit.
For example, could mentoring be part of your New Leader Development Program? Maybe a prerequisite to the program is building informal leadership skills as a mentor in your program.
When looking for opportunities, don’t forget to look for department-specific programs that might be less publicized. Get creative about building mutually beneficial partnerships to build awareness, knowledge, and skills.
6. Create a nomination process (motivation & knowledge & skills)
Being nominated can give people a sense of pride.
It also shows them that someone in the organization recognizes and believes in them.
This can help attract people to your program who might be interested but don’t believe or realize they have a lot to offer.
7. Host panel discussions (awareness & motivation)
Showcase your mentors and mentees by asking them to share their mentoring experiences, provide insights, and answer audience questions in panel discussions.
This is great exposure for your participants as it demonstrates their value and commitment to the organization while getting them in front of a larger network than they probably have.
It’s also one of the best ways to personalize mentoring for large groups in your company.
8. Build in gamification (motivation)
Gamification is a strong motivator, and a little healthy competition can be great!
Seeing their name on a leaderboard or collecting tokens representing the impact they’re having helps keep mentoring top of mind and keeps participants coming back.
For example, Cooley LLP, an American international law firm, created a competitive ‘mentoring madness’ challenge. Attorneys had three weeks to ‘compete’ to be the best mentoring duo by completing weekly challenges such as:
- “Talk to your mentor about your personal brand.”
- “Give your mentee advice on internal networking.”
- “Arrange a shadowing opportunity for your mentee.”
- “Share your thoughts on what work /life balance means to you.”
The competition was a fun way to strengthen existing mentoring relationships and increase participation.
For your program, consider ways to gamify the experience. For instance,
- Set milestones for mentors and mentees that are easy to track and measure.
- Create email badges that mentors and mentees can earn. The badges can display a link to more information about your program. It’s a subtle way to create competition and generate interest.
9. Build training (knowledge & skills)
Training is critical for participants to feel prepared and supported, especially for first-time mentors.
This is why we created MentorStrat Academy. Providing tools and resources to guide participants along the stages of a mentoring relationship will help develop confidence, retain current mentors and attract new ones.
If you aren’t sure what participants need, get feedback through surveys or focus groups.
Look at the program’s inbox and review the frequently asked questions. Then create sustainable training solutions to build participant and program confidence and save you time!
10. Celebrate mentors in meaningful ways (motivation)
A simple, personalized thank-you from the mentoring team, their mentor, or sponsors can go a long way to help mentors feel appreciated.
Public recognition can be very motivating for mentors.
Reward 5-Star mentors with mentee testimonials posted on your site or create Mentor(s) of the Month feature articles.
If you have a program where colleagues can nominate one another for rewards or give shoutouts, encourage mentees to use it (with appropriate guidance.)
You can also create opportunities for public recognition from mentees to their mentors, such as hosting a monthly webinar with a mentoring pair and publishing their stories on popular channels within your organization.
11. Use external social media (awareness & motivation)
In addition to internal channels, leveraging external channels to promote your program and celebrate success sends the message that mentoring is important to the company and can motivate employees to participate.
Publicly promoting mentoring can also help you attract top talent to your organization.
12. Celebrate January’s National Mentoring Month (awareness & motivation)
Celebrating January’s Mentoring Month helps bring awareness to mentoring. When planning activities, think about your company’s culture and choose activities people will participate in.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Have mentees write a note of gratitude as thanks for their mentor’s support and guidance. ProTip: Provide an official program e-card for mentees to personalize and send.
- If employees are working in person, suggest that mentees treat mentors to coffee.
- If employees are working remotely or from multiple locations, host a video conference where participants can share what mentoring means to them and any special stories about their experience.
- Schedule days when mentees can shadow mentors on the job and gain knowledge about different roles or fields.
- Have your CEO and Senior Leadership record a video thanking mentors and sharing what mentorship means to them.
The possibilities are endless, so get a group together and brainstorm. Have fun with it!
13. Host a speed mentoring event (awareness & motivation)
Speed mentoring is a great way to recruit mentors because it quickly shows the power of mentoring and expands their reach in the organization, helping them build confidence and motivation to become a formal mentor.
14. Revisit your design (availability)
Your program design may be hindering mentor participation. Revisit program timing, mentee needs, and structure to look for areas of opportunity.
Be sure to consider business needs, time zones, and culture. For example:
- Accountants in the US won’t be able to mentor during their busy season.
- If annual enrollment is during Chinese New Year, when many employees in China have a holiday, they won’t be likely to enroll in time and participate.
If mentee development needs are shifting, you may have to revise your mentor requirements and adjust who you are recruiting.
Consider alternate structures like group, peer or virtual mentoring to maximize your mentor pool. You may not need to change the whole program, but this strategy can be useful where you have pockets of mentor deficit.
We’re here to help
We know how hard it is to manage mentoring programs. We’ve been in your shoes.
You’re asked to play a myriad of roles: project manager, communications specialist, change manager, process analyst, marketing expert, data analyst, and on and on.
And that’s just for mentoring!
Many of you also have other responsibilities. You do so much visible (and invisible) work to launch a high-quality program, not getting the mentors you need can feel deflating.
MentorStrat can help you design and implement a mentor recruitment strategy built on marketing concepts and years of mentoring expertise.
Our full-suite of mentoring program professional services is customized to your business needs to have maximum effectiveness with minimal business disruption.
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