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Mentoring strategies in the workplace

November 30, 2020

Employees may come to work with the skills and expertise to get the job done, but how many are living up to their full potential at your organization? Statistics show that companies committed to employee development reap rewards. 

Research has found that the number of engaged employees is increasing. Gallup reported that engagement reached a record high in 2019 of 35 percent. Researchers stated the increase they have seen over the past 20 years equates to about 10 million more employees becoming engaged in their work. One of the biggest factors in the change has been how employers handle talent development. Organizations that invest in employee development programs and initiatives have seen the largest increase in engaged workers. 

Other studies corroborate the Gallup data. A CNBC survey found that 9 out of 10 workers that are involved in a workplace mentoring program were happier in their jobs. Participants without a mentor were significantly less pleased with their careers. Of those surveyed who reported being happy in their jobs indicated they believed they were well-paid and valued by their colleagues. They also said their company had good opportunities to advance their career. 

Employee engagement is directly connected to your bottom line.  CNBC’s survey also revealed that 4 out of 10 employees without a mentor have thought about leaving their job in the last few weeks. Thus, by cultivating mentorship in the workplace, companies benefit in several ways including reducing turnover rates and the costs that go with it. 

Why strategy is important for mentoring

It is clear to see the advantages of having a workplace mentoring program but for companies that don’t currently have one or need to upgrade their program, having a strategy is the key. It is essential to have a plan, set goals, develop KPIs, and regularly measure and review the program’s success.  The reality is, without a mentoring strategy, workplace mentoring programs won’t live up to their potential and neither will your employees. 

Mentoring strategies that work

Whether you are developing your initial workplace mentoring program or revamping one, here are some strategies that will help you get the most out of the experience and your employees. 

  1. Set goals. Know what you want to achieve with your mentoring program. Because workplace mentorship can be used to meet many different types of business challenges, it is vital to define the goals and scope of your company’s program. Are you looking to improve diversity? Is it to help new employees fit in better? Do you want to see a reduction in turnover rates? Focus on just one or two goals for the program so no one is overextended, which can lead to higher failure rates. 
  2. Start small. Mentoring programs at work don’t have to be complicated to be successful. Having a small group of advocates to get the program started, organized, and off the ground may be all it takes. Designate a mentoring program manager and map out how mentors and mentees will be matched. Pairing is one of the biggest factors leading to program success. Recording registration details, finding the right match, making the introduction, and tracking the relationship can be simplified through mentoring software like Together. With algorithms that can be modified to fit your specific program needs, successful matches can be identified quickly. The software can also do the hard work of scheduling and reporting. Additionally, Together offers development plans that can increase the success of employee mentorships. 
  3. Offer training. Mentorships are great opportunities to develop skills, particularly valuable leadership qualities. However, participants may need a little bit of training at the start. Consider some short training workshops or courses on topics like what is mentorship, benefits of mentoring, communication, feedback, and setting goals. Learning some of these skills, such as how to offer constructive criticism, will help your mentors and mentees cultivate successful connections. 
  4. Guide the relationship. In the beginning, things may be a bit awkward between a mentor and mentee. You can help them overcome this hurdle by setting guidelines for the relationship. Ask them to define boundaries for their mentorship and encourage the mentee to develop SMART goals. Program managers can even develop a single-page list of questions or conversation starters to get things going. Check-in now and then to see how the mentee and mentor are doing and follow up on any concerns that are expressed. 
  5. Measuring success. At the very start of a workplace mentoring program, each organization will need to define the goals of the program and list some KPIs that can be used to track its success. But, putting these on paper is just the beginning. Regularly review the KPIs and note any changes that have occurred since your mentoring program started. It is important to do this often so that unsuccessful mentorships can be identified early and fixed. Moreover, you may find over time that the KPIs are not giving you the real measure you need to determine the success of your program and you’ll have to set new ones. In addition, incorporate feedback from participants during the review and measurement process. 

Strategies are key to developing successful workplace mentoring programs. From setting goals to guiding mentorships to measuring KPIs, developing a plan before you begin will help your company create a workplace mentoring program that builds high-quality talent that is engaged in their work. 


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