There is one very important requirement for all mentoring programs—the ability to measure its success. If you can’t prove the program is succeeding, there’s a risk that the program may be shut down by management or that participants will lose interest. Establishing your metrics for success is essential.
These metrics for success should be decided on and tracked from the onset of the program. What you need as a program manager is a measurement and evaluation process. The process:
- Should be built into the program design from the beginning.
- Should be based on the goals of the program.
- Should provide actionable insight into mentor-mentee relationships.
Every mentoring program is monitored and evaluated; we want to define each for clarity.
Monitoring refers to the regular tracking of the program and can be done throughout the mentorship.
Evaluation involves a more thorough review of the program’s success and is usually done at the end.
In this article, we’ve outlined what program managers need to know about measuring and reporting on the success of their mentorship program.
- We start by outlining the characteristics of a successful program;
- then we explain what a mentor tracking system is and what’s tracked; and
- finally, we compare using software or not to evaluate your mentoring program.
By the end of the article, you’ll know how to keep an eye on your program and guarantee its growth and impact. Let’s dive in!
The Characteristics Of A Successful Mentoring Program
At Together, we’ve helped a lot of large organizations run mentoring programs. From our experience, we’ve developed numerous articles and guides outlining the best practices for running a mentorship program.
We also talked with a lot of experts who have built careers around running successful mentoring programs.
We recently spoke with two mentorship experts, Jodi Petersen and Mary Schlegel, who are the minds behind MentorStrat, a mentoring consulting and training firm. We discussed best practices for first-time mentorship program managers.
Jodi emphasized the importance of reporting on your mentoring program and brining in other departments to help you:
The best programs we’ve seen that had the most impact across their organization—increased productivity, more inclusive cultures, accelerated employee development, skyrocketing engagement—had those best practices in common.
But before they even began running their programs, they had systems in place to guarantee a well-run mentorship program. There were three things they all had in common:
- Predetermined goals
- Clarity on what metrics they were going to track and report on and the tools to do it.
Let’s briefly look at each in more detail.
The program has predetermined goals
Every mentoring program has a purpose. It takes resources and time to build a mentoring program, so it’s likely that you’ve had to develop a business case for mentorship. In the process of building that business case, there would likely be goals for the mentoring program. For example, the goal behind your mentoring program may be to:
- Attract and retain top talent
- Increase employee engagement
- Support employee succession
- Support diversity and inclusion initiatives
Each program is designed to move the needle on one or more of these goals.
But the most successful programs get even more granular about their goals. They have specific objectives and KPIs. Their Key Performance Indicators or KPIs of a mentoring program are observable and measurable. Let’s look at some examples:
After they’ve determined their goals and objectives, they also have the means to measure them.
Clarity on metrics to track and the tools to do it
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. The best company’s program administrators we’ve worked with at Together have leveraged our reporting tools (something we’ll cover below) to monitor important metrics.
They keep their eyes on metrics like sign-ups, the goals mentees list when they register, the skills mentors bring to the program, how many mentors and mentees are in the program and more. The rest of this article is about all of this particular area.
With that in mind, let’s transition to look at what a mentoring tracking system is.
What’s Monitored In A Mentoring Tracking System?
A mentoring tracking system keeps track of several key metrics. Let’s look at each:
The registration process is proof for program managers that there is demand for a mentoring program. Up to that point, they may have had anecdotal feedback that mentoring was important to employees or conversations with leaders that they’d like to give back and mentor up-and-coming talent. This is where employees prove their commitment to mentorship by signing up to mentor or mentee.
Program managers need to be keenly aware of their balance between mentors and mentees during the signup process. A key issue we cover in our best practices white paper (see the section on characteristics of a successful mentoring program) is that not having enough mentors is a challenge for many mentoring programs. Signing up as a mentor can be intimidating for some employees, but program administrators have several ways to convince them they’ll be great mentors.
Mentee and mentor goals
Mentees and mentors must outline their goals at the beginning of the mentoring program. In the same way that the whole program needs overarching goals, mentors and mentees need to discuss what they hope to accomplish with their relationship. If they don’t, their conversations can be ineffective and ultimately a waste of time. That’s a recipe for an unsuccessful program.
Great program managers ensure that the conversation around goals happens early on between mentors and mentees. This is usually done through a mentorship agreement where they agree on basic things like when they’ll meet and how often, but also important expectations like goals and desired outcomes.
The mentorship agreement should be a document with all these expectations. In doing so program administrators will be able to check in with pairings throughout the program and see if they’re making progress on their agreed-upon goals.
Another important metric program managers keep an eye on is anecdotal feedback. Although it’s hard to quantify numerically, this qualitative feedback is still important to collect from mentors and mentees. Program managers can periodically reach out to participants at the start, middle, and near the end of the program to ask how they feel. Having these informal conversations several times throughout the program can provide program managers with insight into the overall sentiment of the progam. Pair this with more structured session feedback, and program managers will have a clearer understanding of the state of their progam.
Session feedback takes place after each session. In Together’s mentoring platform, mentors and mentees are each prompted to fill out a feedback form after each session. Usually, the feedback is just a sentence or two, but it helps give program managers a bank of feedback to draw insight from. It’s also a great resource to leverage when reporting on the program to executives. They can be leveraged as testimonials of the impact—for example, using video testimonials from your employees will show just how much they have benefited (and you should include this in your annual report)..
Half of a program manager’s job is to run the program successfully. The other half is to prove the program’s success to leadership.
We encourage anyone running a mentorship program to download our white paper on the ROI of mentorship. Program managers can use this guide to quantify the impact of their program on the business.
Additionally, Mary Schlegel, from MentorStrat shares several helpful tips for getting the data that shows clear ROI for mentoring:
Monitor metrics regularly
Having mentoring software that can produce analytics and reports is a valuable way to measure the success of a mentoring program. For example, Together has built-in reporting that can measure program activity and engagement.
If this data is not regularly reviewed, then its value will be lost.
Mentoring program managers should make a point of reviewing these metrics monthly or bi-monthly to stay up-to-date on each mentorship and the program as a whole.
Evaluating and monitoring your mentoring program
Monitoring a mentoring program at work usually involves keeping track and measuring the various signs of success. Yet, every mentoring program should also be evaluated. This is a more involved process than monitoring using a mentoring tracking system. The entire program is reviewed during an evaluation, from the goals and outcomes defined when it started to the reports and data collected during the monitoring phase.
Together handles the registration process of mentors and mentees, collecting the critical information to run a successful program. Regardless of whether or not you leverage mentoring software, you’ll need to keep track of some information on your registrants. This will help to paint a picture of the program’s demographics. By this, we mean their departments, titles, level of seniority, experience, and skills they hope to develop.
With Together’s mentoring platform, you’ll get the following information in an automatically generated registration report:
- An overview of the number of mentors and mentees
- How many mentees mentors have listed they can take on at the same time (their mentoring capacity)
- Registration by day
- Feedback from registration questions
When it comes to reviewing the pairing in a mentoring program, it all stems from the initial match. There are a few ways in which mentors can be matched with the right mentee:
- (Using software like Together’s) The algorithms and data can match the pairing based on location, goals, interests and experience.
- Mentees can self-match where they can look at different mentors’ profiles that they know will work well for them.
- Program managers can organize pairing after they see their goals and experience levels to create a good mentor match.
Program managers need to keep a close eye on the quality of their pairings. At Together, we strongly recommend that program managers design their pairing process to be mentee-led. We do this because mentees are the primary beneficiaries of the program. They should have a say in who mentors them unless they opt for someone else to decide for them. Autonomy and choice will lead to better outcomes. If mentees choose their mentors, they’ll be more invested in the relationship.
One of the best ways to measure your workplace mentoring program is by asking for feedback from those involved. When a mentorship runs its course, ask both the mentee and the mentor to fill in a survey. You can ask them how they felt about the mentorship and even see if they would recommend the program to others. This information can help identify key areas that still need to be worked out. It can also reveal the parts of the mentoring program that work well.
Skill and goal report
Program managers need to understand if there’s compatibility between mentors and mentees. A great program will have mentors that possess the skills and experiences that mentees want. The skill and goal report provides this information.
For example, in your program, you may have 24 mentees wanting to grow their skills in effective communication. If you have 6 mentors who listed their top skill as effective communication, you’ll need to ask each of those 6 mentors to take on 4 mentees. If they agree, all mentees will have a mentor with the exact skills they want to develop.
This information can get pretty nuanced and lead your program in different directions. In the example above, asking mentors to take on several mentees at one time would mean you’re building a group mentoring program. Group mentoring programs are different from traditional 1-on-1 mentoring programs, and program managers should be aware of the differences and where they’re best suited.
Additionally, the skill and goals report in Together’s platform enables program managers to see what’s discussed most often in each meeting. This can be an indicator of the prevailing skills mentees want to learn. In the image below, for example, this mentoring program has a focus on innovative thinking and team building. With this information, program managers can create more tailored session agendas or events if they choose.
Running a mentoring program with software vs manually
We’ve covered a lot of ground on measuring your mentoring program. The topic of using software has come up a number of times, so we wanted to include a section outlining when you should or shouldn’t consider mentoring software. Overall, it depends on the size of your program. But let’s go into more detail:
While data collection can be a time-consuming process, it doesn’t need to be. Mentoring software can help you track the progress of your workplace mentoring program. By keeping digital records, including the meeting schedule of the program participants, workplace mentoring program managers will be able to evaluate the program’s progress quickly.
Mentoring software is also capable of generating reports on the progress of the mentorship program. This can help organization leadership and stakeholders quickly access their information to see how successful the mentoring program has been. It can also reveal areas in the mentoring program that need improvement.
It’s been mentioned briefly above but collecting feedback is an incredibly important part of all successful mentorship programs. If you don’t have it, how can you improve or know if you’re fulfilling your goals for the program? It’s essential.
With mentoring software like Together’s, you have an arsenal of tools to collect meaningful feedback from participants. You have:
- Registration questionnaires
- Post-session feedback forms
- Periodic surveys
- Pairing ratings
Without software, these insights are much harder to collect. Whereas with Together’s platform, it’s at a glance.
Results at a glance
Together’s software provides insights to program managers at a glance. They can see the program’s performance from a high level or zoom in on individual mentor-mentee pairings.
Without software, program managers would have to reach out to participants and interview them individually. This would be time-consuming and possibly happen after the fact when the relationship has concluded.
Overall, companies looking to start a mentorship program should use mentoring software if they want to run a program at scale. Using spreadsheets is doable if there are less than 25 participants, but it becomes a logistical nightmare to manage so many pairing combinations and mentoring relationships once it goes over.
If your program has more than 25 participants, then talk to us today to see how mentoring software can make your program so easy it runs itself.