Workplace mentoring programs are a valuable tool that organizations have to help employees grow professionally and personally. They can also be assets for companies looking to engage employees and reduce turnover rates. Building a connection between a mentor and mentee can be a struggle at first. Yet it is this connection that is key to a successful mentorship experience. Here are some creative and innovative activity ideas that mentors and mentees can do together to build a bond.
Outline a plan
Creating a mentoring plan early on is a good way to get to know each other. It also sets boundaries and expectations for the mentorship. A plan should include how often the mentor-mentee will meet, the goals a mentee wants to accomplish, and how long the mentorship will last. Outlining a plan is one of the best ways to avoid the disappointment that can come from unmet expectations.
In a workplace mentoring program, allowing the mentee to job shadow their mentor can be an excellent learning experience. It is ideal in a succession planning situation where the mentee will be able to learn on the job. A mentor can also spend some time answering questions after the job shadowing is done.
Try reverse mentoring
Most mentoring programs pair a senior employee with a younger one, allowing the mentor to take the lead in the teaching process. However, mentees may be able to teach their mentors some things too. Plan a reverse mentoring session where the mentee shares their skills. This can be particularly valuable when it comes to technology, which is rapidly changing. The mentee may be more tech-savvy and have up-to-date know-how that a mentor will benefit from.
Going to conferences together is a great activity for mentors and mentees. Attend presentations and speeches and then go over the content together later. Doing this gives participants the opportunity to hear different perspectives on topics and issues.
One of the benefits of mentoring programs is that they allow a mentee to network with a mentor’s contacts. To facilitate this, a mentor can plan an informal meeting where both the mentee and mentor meet with the contact together. Gaining access to these types of networking opportunities can be valuable experiences and boost a mentees career prospects.
Volunteering together is a great bonding experience for a mentor and mentee to share. It is also beneficial for the community. Whether it is at a conference, charity event, or fundraising it provides an opportunity for the mentor and mentee to get to know each other better.
Mentors and mentees can consider taking a class or some online training in an area they are both interested in and then discuss the subject matter as they learn. Doing this will help each participant learn something new while getting to know each other better.
Joint book study
Reading books together can help facilitate great discussions in mentorships. There may be a book that can help a mentee develop a skill they want to have or one that brings new understanding to frustrations or challenges that can occur in the workplace. Decide on one together and read a section at a time and then discuss the lessons or advice in the pages.
Rather than meeting in an office room, mentors and mentees could plan to meet at a local attraction for something different. It could simply be a walk at a nearby park or visiting a famous part of the city. Getting out of the office can bring a new vibe to the mentorship and cultivate a deeper understanding between a mentor and mentee.
Share a podcast
Podcasts have become very popular entertainment choices. They can be full of information and wisdom. With the variety of choices and subject matter, sharing a podcast can help a mentee on their growth journey and career development. You don’t necessarily need to find one that is related to careers, one that tackles human issues can still make an impact.
Plan a presentation
Help strengthen a mentee’s planning, writing, design, and presentation skills by creating a speech or PowerPoint on a topic that is important to them. The mentee should be encouraged to pick something they are passionate about or consider themselves an expert in. It can be a chance to delve further into a favorite topic and build confidence in public speaking and presenting.
In a workplace mentoring program, mentees can benefit from a mentor’s feedback on a presentation, report, or project they’ve completed. By hearing some construction criticism they will be able to pinpoint weaknesses that can be worked on and turned into strengths.
Even if your mentorship is based in a professional atmosphere, be sure to celebrate special events and occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Sending cards, notes, or going out for a special lunch or treat can bring a mentor and mentee closer together.
Plan a goodbye
While there will always be a special connection between a mentor and mentee, there will be a time when the relationship ends. Make a point of doing something special and unique to mark the end of the mentorship. Talk about the progress that was made during the program and what the future may hold.
Successful mentorships can sometimes be hard work, especially at first. It takes some effort for mentors and mentees to build trust and connection. But that is the key. Planning a few interesting activities to start off with can get a workplace mentorship off on the right foot.