Mentoring programs within manufacturing and industrial sectors are a powerful way to reduce injuries, increase productivity and retention, and strengthen relationships between management and employees.
But starting a mentorship program can be tricky, especially if you’ve never done one before.
At Together, we've created this guide to help HR managers create an effective mentoring program within their industrial or manufacturing company. There are seven key steps, from deciding on a program to monitoring the results – and we'll cover them all here.
Let's dive in!
Why do you want to start a mentoring program?
You may want your mentoring program to train and support new employees. Perhaps you're looking for ways to increase productivity and safety on the job.
Your program’s goal will inform its design.
Here's a list of goals we often see when supporting companies with their mentorship programs:
- Increase safety awareness and practices
- Enhance employee productivity
- Improve job satisfaction
- Help employees develop better communication skills
- Foster team cohesion and collaboration
- Develop leadership skills in both mentors and mentees.
In terms of the most common use cases, companies typically set up a program for DEI training (diversity, equity, and inclusion); onboarding (introducing new hires to the company); learning and development (building skills and knowledge); or career development (helping employees reach their goals).
Once you know why you're setting up the program, it's time to get started.
Step 1: Decide on a 1-on-1 or Group program
A successful mentorship program is customized to meet the unique needs of your organization.
At Together, we offer two options that can be easily adapted to fit your specific requirements.
1-on-1 mentorship programs help individual employees grow their skills and advance their careers. You’ll pair a seasoned employee with a less experienced one.
Typically, the senior employee acts as the mentor and the junior employee as the mentee; however, we also offer peer mentorship, where employees of similar levels are matched and can learn from each other.
Want to help a group of employees develop their skills while fostering team cohesion? Perhaps you've got a new group of administrative assistants coming through, or you need to train the new warehouse intake on your WHS policies.
Our Group Mentorship program is designed to do just that; it provides a safe space for employees to learn from each other and take in all of the same information and advice.
On the platform
Once you've made your decision, it's easy to lock it in by navigating to the 'Pairing Format' page on our platform.
Here's a visual to help you out:
Step 2: Decide on a Cohort or Evergreen program
The next step is to define how you’ll letemployees participate in your program.
We split the options into two categories: Cohort or Evergreen.
Cohort mentorship programs
Cohort programs run for a fixed period of time (usually 6-12 months). They also have a fixed registration period that lasts 2-3 weeks. After registration closes, pairing and the program begins.
Companies choose the Cohort mentorship program if they've got a group of new employees or interns joining their organization on the same level. Likewise, companies new to mentorship usually have a cohort pilot program.
Evergreen mentorship programs
As the name suggests, our Evergreen option remains open at all times. Mentors and mentees can join or leave as they please, and you can add new members in a staggered fashion.
Select this option if you're consistently hiring new people and can't predict when someone will be due to join.
Navigate to 'Program Cycle' on the platform once you've made your decision:
Step 3: Name your program and add details
Wondering how to name your mentorship program? There aren't any rules, of course – and it won't really affect the outcome of the program. However, a clear name will help to provide some structure and lend clarity to your project.
It'll give potential participants an idea of what you're trying to achieve and subtly steer conversations in the right direction.
Having the wrong name can easily steer people away from the program. For example: if you give your program a basic name like '2023 Mentorship Program' or '[company name] Mentorship', you risk losing participants because they don't know what it's about.
On the Together platform, go to 'General Information' and enter the name in the text box. It'll show up in various places throughout the program, so make sure you're happy with it.
Step 4: Configure the registration questionnaire and matching rules
A mentorship program’s success is determined by the quality of the pairings. In short, can you match each mentee with a relevant mentor?
That's why configuring a registration questionnaire and matching rules is so important.
Let’s look at an example: If you're running a program in which experienced metal fabricators show junior tradies how to use new equipment, you should include questions related to the participant's experience with each type of machinery. Some might be familiar with certain types, while others might not.
As you configure the questionnaire, think about how it'll help you to match people effectively.
Examples of registration questions include:
- What is your current role?
- What area of the business are you most interested in?
- Do you have a desire to grow in your current role or transition into a new specialty through upskilling or reskilling?
- What are your career goals and how do you think mentorship can help you achieve them?
- What skills or areas do you feel you need to improve to achieve your career goals?
- What are your expectations for the mentorship program and what would you like to gain from it?
- How much time are you able to commit to the mentorship program, including regular meetings with your mentor?
- Are there any specific topics or areas of expertise you would like your mentor to have?
The same goes for matching rules; choose to prioritize things like job titles or experience levels when making matches between participants.
Step 5: Prepare your program for launch
We're counting down to liftoff now – it's time to get your program ready for launch. Let's run through the basics.
Review email notifications
Participants receive email notifications throughout the program.
Customize them to include important information about each stage – for instance, when registration opens and closes, or when matches have been made.
Start with our templated welcome email that introduces participants to the program with details. We've got plenty of helpful templates you can use and customize to suit your goals.
Set rules for who can participate in your program
To restrict your programs to only some employees by easily setting rules that only allow eligible participants can join.
Do this by navigating to Program Access under Registration. From there, list whichever participants you want to prevent from joining or set rules to do the job automatically.
Depending on how large your company is, you may want to make use of integrations.
Integrations allow you to sync your program with existing HR systems and employee directories, making it easier for participants to register and keep track of their progress.
Here at Together, we've got a list of useful integrations to help you do just that:
- Meeting tools (Zoom, Meet, Webex, Teams)
- Calendar tools (Google, Office365)
- HRIS (BambooHR, Oracle, ADP, and more)
- Communication apps (Slack, Workspace, Teams)
Head to our Integrations page to learn more and configure the ones that suit you.
Set up the pairing process
It's almost time to trigger the algorithm and start pairing participants.
But wait – what if you've got more mentees than mentors, or some mentees are left without a match due to incompatibility?
This is where our Pairing Readiness Report comes into play.
It'll tell you exactly what your program's mentorship capacity is; for example, it might find that you have 6 mentors with the capacity to mentor 18 mentees in total (see image below).
You'll get to see how many participants are likely to find a match, too.
From there, you can either make adjustments or move forward.
Review program content
Perhaps the most customized part of your program will be the content – resources, agendas, and tasks.
You should go through and finalize your content before launching.
It's easy to do:
- Add resources. By default, you’ll have LinkedIn Learning courses you can add or remove, along with our own articles and handbooks. Add your own resources if needed (for instance, if you have particular WHS guidelines to consider or a specific skill set to focus on).
- Set up agendas. We include templated agendas to guide participants through their journey. It's worth putting together one for each stage of the program. You don't have to, of course – but we find that the most successful programs have a clear trajectory set out.
- Create tasks. Want your pairings to complete specific tasks? Create them ahead of time and assign them to participants. We've got plenty of pre-set tasks to save you some time here.
You're now ready to launch your industrial and manufacturing mentorship program with Together.
But don't head off just yet.
Step 6: Launch pairing
The all-important red button on our platform is 'Turn on pairing'. When you're ready and have prepared your program for launch, click it and watch the magic happen.
If you want to be more involved in the pairing process, don't fret – there are a couple of different options to choose from.
With admin-led pairing, you manually assign pairs, taking into account compatibility and any other preferences you've set.
User-led pairing lets your participants submit preferences; you can manually or automatically approve the resulting pairs.
Don't be afraid of the pairing process running away without you; you'll be able to switch off pairing at any time, and no emails will be sent out until you've approved the final pairing draft.
Step 7: Monitor and report on your program
You've pressed 'go', but the process doesn't end there. It's crucial to keep an eye on how your program is progressing so you can identify any problems or changes that need to be made.
We've got plenty of reporting features to make this easier for you:
- Session Reports reflect on individual sessions
- Registration Reports show the volume and frequency of participation
- Pairing Reports give an overview of mentor-mentee pairs
- Skills & Goals Reports demonstrate whether participants are meeting their goals
It's best if you can review the reports on a regular basis; that way, you can identify where changes need to be made and act quickly to address any issues.
Congrats! You've successfully designed, launched, and are now monitoring an industrial and manufacturing mentorship program with Together. We're excited to work with you and contribute to the improvement of your business.
Still have questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us and book a demo to learn more.