Looming deadlines, tight budgets, and the pressure to produce results can make it difficult for HR and People Ops teams to create meaningful experiences for their employees.
Most individuals seek more than just a job—they want to feel engaged, empowered and be part of an organization that recognizes their potential. Even in the current climate of remote work, companies are looking for ways to invest in their people and create a positive culture.
One leading learning and development strategy is a mentoring program where employees are paired with experienced professionals to help them develop their skills, goals, and career paths. But getting a mentoring program off the ground can be difficult without a proper workshop.
Laying the foundation for a successful mentoring program requires a well-thought-out and organized workshop to help participants understand the program's goals, learn how to be effective mentors or mentees, and set expectations for their participation.
A clear plan can make the program easier to manage and help ensure participants get the most out of it.
What is a mentoring workshop?
A mentoring workshop is one or a series of training sessions designed to prepare participants for a mentoring program. It helps set the tone, promote the program, and ensure participants understand its expectations, goals, and benefits.
Wendy Axelrod, Ph.D., author of 10 Steps to Successful Mentoring, shares in an interview with Together's CEO that setting expectations is crucial to your program’s success.
“The ‘backbone’ [of a mentoring program] is really about the structure; about people knowing they are coming into a program; it's going to be nine months, we're going to meet regularly, there are some requirements for you to stay in the program…We tell them, ‘this is what’s in the program, do you agree to this?’”
The goal of the workshop is to provide an overview of the critical aspects of a successful mentoring relationship, such as:
- Setting goals and expectations
- Understanding the roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees
- Identifying and resolving conflicts
- Learning how to communicate effectively
The mentoring workshop should also provide a space for individuals to ask questions, share their experiences, and build relationships with one another.
It creates an environment of trust and encourages collaboration between mentors, mentees, and you, the administrators, even before the program starts.
Why is it important to run a mentoring workshop?
Often, mentoring programs fail because participants don’t understand the goals of the program and aren’t serious about their expectations. A mentoring workshop can help to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page and that the program has a clear direction.
Along with providing an opportunity to build relationships, a mentoring workshop helps employees to:
- Understand the value of the program
- Gain problem-solving and communication skills
- Develop techniques on how to give and receive feedback
- Discover new strategies for managing relationships and challenging situations
A well-structured mentoring workshop can help HR and People Ops teams better manage the program. It provides an opportunity to discuss potential issues, set expectations and guidelines, and create a productive and enjoyable environment for everyone involved.
How to run a mentoring workshop for employees
Coordinating a mentoring workshop requires careful planning and preparation. Aside from setting up activities to engage the participants, the workshop should focus on understanding and meeting the needs of both mentors and mentees while providing meaningful content and guidance.
Here are some tips for HR and People Ops teams looking to build a well-organized mentoring workshop:
1. Define the mentoring workshop's purpose and goals
Drilling down the workshop's purpose and goals will help you create an effective structure for your workplace mentoring program.
What do you want to accomplish with this workshop? Are you looking to introduce the concept of mentoring and its benefits in the long run, teach the skills needed for successful mentorships, or discuss the expectations for mentors and mentees?
Answering these questions will help you outline the workshop's purpose, form an action plan to reach those goals, and determine the topics, activities, and resources you need to include.
2. Design the mentoring workshop
Laying out the structure of the workshop is essential for keeping it organized and focused. Divide your workshop into different sessions and create an agenda to guide participants through each section.
Ask questions like:
- Is it just an orientation, formal training, or a combination?
- What topics do you want to cover?
- What kind of activities will you include?
- How much time should each session take?
Developing a framework using our Mentoring program planning template will give you a clearer idea of what to include in the workshop and how to structure it. Some of the best formats include a combination of lectures, group discussions, role-play activities, and mentorship simulations.
You can also use surveys or questionnaires at the beginning and end of the workshop to better understand the participants' needs, expectations, and reflections.
3. Select mentors and mentees
The success of a mentoring workshop depends heavily on the mentors and mentees. When selecting participants, consider their interests, backgrounds, experience levels, and goals to form the most suitable pairings later on.
This step can be subdivided into the following:
Communicate the benefits of the workshop to both the mentors and mentees
Pitching the workshop to potential participants is crucial for getting them on board and setting the right expectations. Focusing on the benefits they'll gain from the program will help you to attract more people.
Make mentoring as flexible as possible to accommodate a broad range of participants
Many mentors and mentees might not be able to commit to a full-time mentoring relationship but still want to participate in the program. Offering flexible hours and one-on-one and remote sessions can help boost participation.
Include training and preparation materials
Forcing mentors and mentees into a workplace mentorship program without proper training or preparation can make it much less effective. Providing relevant materials beforehand will set the framework for a productive mentoring relationship and make it easier to hit the ground running.
4. Get stakeholders' buy-in
The support of stakeholders is invaluable when it comes to developing and running a mentoring workshop. An excellent way to get their buy-in is by providing clear, measurable benefits that the workshop and program will bring to the organization using our Mentoring program proposal template.
Involve the key players in your company, such as senior leadership, HR teams, and department heads in the planning process. Have them provide feedback on the workshop goals, structure, and content, as their input can help you create a more successful and meaningful mentoring program.
5. Match mentors and mentees
Implementing a simple yet efficient matching system is crucial for the participants to get the most out of their mentor-mentee relationship.
Our mentoring software at Together does the hard work for you by automating the process and creating personalized matches based on set criteria, such as skills, experience, interests, job roles, and career goals, through our robust pairing algorithm.
Even if you don’t have access to a mentoring platform, you can manually assign the pairs using questionnaires and surveys to help identify compatible matches, such as those in our Registration questions template.
6. Provide the mentorship workshop
Most employees won't have any prior experience in mentoring, making it essential to provide practical training, guidance, and resources for both mentors and mentees during the workshop.
The workshop aims to equip participants with the skills and knowledge they need to form successful mentoring relationships. Helpful topics include active listening, giving feedback, setting expectations and boundaries, understanding different communication styles, and working through conflicts.
You can also offer resources such as sample mentoring plans, forms for setting goals and progress tracking, as well as mentor-mentee agreements that outline the expectations of both parties.
7. Measure your mentorship workshop's success
Conducting regular assessments of your mentorship workshop will help you track its progress, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that the goals are being met.
Determine which metrics measure success, including pre-workshop surveys, participant interviews, or internal stakeholder feedback.
A well-executed mentoring workshop is the cornerstone of a successful program contributing to employee engagement, growth, and overall satisfaction.
With proper guidance, resources, and support throughout the program, employees are more equipped and confident to establish meaningful relationships that drive success in their professional and personal lives.
Investing in mentoring workshops empowers employees to reach their full potential and strengthens the organization's culture, morale, and overall performance.
With Together’s mentoring platform, it's as easy as ever to set up, manage, and monitor your program and everything that comes with it. All the tools you need are in one place, so you can focus on the things that matter most: enabling great connections that create a lasting impact on your organization.
Sign up for a free demo today!