Mentorship Program Planning

An unbeatable mentoring framework to guide your program

A mentoring framework helps organizations plan a mentorship program. In this article, we explain Together's framework and how you can use it to plan your mentoring program.

Matthew Reeves, CEO of Together

October 20, 2022

There’s a lot of revealing research out there unpacking the benefits and uses of mentorship.

Most of this research affirms that mentorship is beneficial for everyone involved: the mentee (obviously), the mentor, and the organizations where they work. 

But all this research has struggled to build frameworks that mentors, mentees, and companies can use to guarantee successful mentoring relationships at scale. Individual studies have built frameworks around the specific behaviors and characteristics that create successful mentoring relationships. 

These frameworks help inform mentors and mentees, but if you’re trying to start a mentorship program at an organization with hundreds or even thousands of employees, how the heck do you guarantee a successful mentoring experience for everyone?

What you need is a reliable mentoring framework. The framework will be like the high-level view of your program. It will help you judge whether you have a deep mentoring culture or just a pilot program.  

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In this article, we’re going to explain what a mentoring framework is and how you can use it to start a mentoring program in your workplace.

Let’s dive in!

What is a mentoring framework?

The below image summarizes the mentoring framework our team at Together built to show the progression a company should take when scaling mentorship across their organization. 

Our framework is applicable across industries. We don’t expect you to have a program that spans your entire workforce right away. Instead, our framework offers guidelines that will help you decide the right starting point for your organization. 

Together has a framework we use with customers that want to grow mentorship in their company. It's the Crawl, Walk, Run framework.
A framework for mentoring programs. The Together team uses this framework to guide customers toward building a mentoring culture.

This framework is for companies starting a mentoring program. The image below is a separate framework that shows the cycle mentors and mentees need to follow:

The cycle of preparing, meeting, and tracking your mentoring relationship. Mentors and mentees should follow this cycle to build a successful relationship.
The cycle mentors and mentees follow to build a successful relationship.

Why is a mentoring framework important?

If you don’t establish a framework from the start of your program, mentoring will remain informal in your workplace

There are numerous downsides to not having a structured program in place. 

  1. Not every employee would have access to mentors. This can lead to issues of only the well-connected employees progressing.
  2. Mentors are restricted to only people they are acquainted with. This could leave a lot of potentially successful mentoring relationships untapped. 
  3. Without support from a formal program, mentors and mentees have limited support and no access to resources such as mentoring software that includes discussion guides and progress tracking. 
  4. Informal mentoring is hard for the organization to track. There’s no way to know who’s meeting, when, what they talk about, and the outcomes of it.
  5. Employees are restricted to traditional one on one mentoring relationships when formal mentoring programs can support different mentoring models

If you have informal mentoring in place, we have a guide on transitioning from informal to formal mentorship. 

A framework for mentor-mentee compatibility

A framework isn’t restricted to the mentoring program alone. There are also frameworks for individual mentoring relationships that mentors and mentees should agree on.

Engagement

Depending on employees that need mentorship within an organization, they should be matched with mentors that fit their developmental goals. Only competent professionals with the skills a mentee requires should serve as mentors. 

The mentor should be grounded in the soft and hard skills the mentee is looking to acquire. That way, they can provide the right guidance and engage the mentee accordingly. They should also have access to resources that would help them perform their mentoring role effectively, this applies to both parties.

Accountability

Mentors should be accessible and available to their mentees. They should show up for them in one-on-one meetings and professional and social settings if need be. 

Being available to talk about personal issues and willing to help their mentee is a key feature that is often overlooked. 

Mentors should show that they’re committed to the relationship. This will help the mentee view the experience and learning positively and emulate it in future relationships. Consider that 89% of mentees will go on to become mentors. So a good experience can have an impact beyond one person.

Trust

Trust is a personal quality that should exist in every mentoring relationship. 

Quite often, mentees can identify the presence or lack of it thereof. Probably because of the generational differences between both parties. 

Trust allows both mentor and mentee to explore the possibilities of intellectual and personal growth. They can benefit from each other without the fear of being exploited. 

As research has stated, “trust is built in an atmosphere that thrives on a non-confrontational way of communicating and resolving conflicts.”

Values/Priorities

Research has shown that successful mentoring yields better career outcomes, including promotion, raises, job satisfaction and psychosocial benefits. 

Mentors should introduce their mentees to the right people through their network. Help them learn important skills that will benefit their career.

They should also model values like effective professional behavior and interpersonal skills. It is not about creating clones of themselves in their mentee but giving them the independence to develop and practice personal and professional freedom.

Hobbies/interests

Emotional support goes a long way in developing the confidence of a mentee to take necessary risks. 

Taking an active interest in each other’s hobbies will make both parties thrive. It also lowers feelings of isolation and reduces the stress of unmet expectations.  

When roles and expectations are clear, communication is easier and the relationship smoother.

Using our mentoring framework to structure your mentoring program

You can use the crawl, walk, and run framework above to provide steps for leaders to start mentoring programs. 

We have simplified the process of building a mentorship program into 5 steps we will discuss below.

What is the goal of your mentorship program?

Every organization should have a goal they hope to achieve with their mentorship program. For example, do you want to give retention rates a boost or help employees develop career-wise?

It all depends on the needs of your employees and the resources available to them. You shouldn’t be restricted by resources, though. 

Together mentoring software is fully equipped to help you launch an operational program.

Decide on the type of mentorship

You would be surprised that there is more to mentoring than the senior versus junior executive mentorship you are used to seeing. 

Take the time to find out the type of mentoring your company truly needs, and of course, you can combine more than one type.

You might even have an informal program running already. Make it official and inclusive by signing up on Together. Group and peer-peer mentoring are just some options you can consider. 

Your goals should help you decide on the right one.

Recruit employees to join the program

Now that you have done all the groundwork of setting goals and choosing mentoring types, it is time to promote the program to employees, so they join as mentors and mentees in the program.

There are several ways to engage and get employees involved in the program.

  • You could create awareness around mentoring and its benefits through email campaigns. 
  • Get the backing of company leadership 
  • Organize a launch party to make it more credible

Do whatever works for your company to get people on board.

Provide pairing and support

After building momentum around the program. It is time to pair mentors with their mentees and help them build a meaningful connection. 

Mentoring programs typically run from 6-12 months, during which you can support them with tips on being effective in their roles as mentors and mentees. 

Share resources with them, like mentoring agreements that outline expectations, discussion agendas, questions to ask, and more. 

Together has free and actionable mentoring handbooks and guides.

Measure and report on success

Your job is far from over, you still have to show the results of your program. You need to measure mentoring metrics like

  • signups, 
  • Goal completions,
  • Session feedback and
  • Business outcomes.

You can keep track of all these and more when you use the Together mentoring platform. Our platform keeps track of all this data for you so you can show how the program has impacted employees. 

Get started building your mentoring program

Use our framework as a guideline to pitch and launch a successful mentoring program

We also have more resources and templates to help you plan your mentoring. If you’re ready to take your mentoring program to the next level with our platform, book your free demo to get started.

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Want incredible results from your mentorship program? Then download our comprehensive list of best practices.

We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.