The goal of a mentorship program is to accelerate the personal and professional development of mentees. This is achieved by providing mentees with guidance, advice and feedback from mentors with more experience than themselves.
For an organization that starts a mentoring program, it’s a cost-effective and efficient way to boost employee engagement, strengthen company culture, and increase retention of high potential employees. HR professionals or People Leaders can also quickly set and manage goals for their mentoring program quickly using Together's free mentorship platform. Rather than spending weeks manually matching employees and building our mentoring activities, our platform makes it simple.
In short, companies that implement formal mentoring programs help employees become more effective in their roles and strengthens their connections with others in the workplace.
There are many different objectives for organizations and individual mentors and mentees when joining a mentorship program.
Let’s explore in more detail the specific aims of workplace mentoring programs and those involved.
Common mentoring objectives
Perhaps you’re working on OKRs (objectives and key results) or goal setting for your organization and want to know how mentorship can help with your company strategy. Here are some common objectives that companies have in mind when building out a mentorship program.
- Develop emerging leaders: Helping high performing employees develop their leadership abilities
- Onboard faster: teaching new workers about the company and the expectations of management
- Promote diversity: mentorship programs encourage and empower employees from minority groups who may not currently be reaching the next level of career development
- Career development: assisting employees in meeting their career goals by honing new capabilities
- Remote Work: Allow people to build their career and network in a remote work environment.
- Succession planning: seasoned workers who will be moving into retirement can impart their knowledge and wisdom to those who will take over when they leave
- Improving culture: building productive relationships among co-workers can lead to a healthier workplace culture.
- Employee retention: employees who perceive that the company cares about developing their career path and their future are more likely to stay with the organization longer. Research done by Deloitte identified that younger employees who are given a mentoring opportunity are more likely to stay with that employer for longer.
- Reputation building: organizations who show a commitment to their employees’ development will gain a reputation as a desirable place to work
Common key results:
- Increase internal promotion rate by 10% within 12 months
- Decrease time to hit full sales quota of a new rep by 3 weeks (Onboard Faster)
- 20% of Junior VPs are racial minorities (Promote Diversity)
- 80% of employees have positive outlook on their career trajectory (Career Development)
- Achieve Glassdoor rating of 4.3 (Improving Culture)
- Keep employees within the company for longer (Employee Retention)
- Increase conversion of new hire offers from 50% to 75% (Reputation Building)
Goals for a mentor-mentee relationship
The benefits of mentoring for both mentors and mentees are related to what an organization would want but are understandably more tied to their own growth rather than the company.
For example, A mentee may want to become more engaged in their work by talking about their goals and aspirations with a mentor. The company may desire this as well because a more engaged employee will do better work.
The same outcome - more engaged employees - but with different goals.
Being a mentor is a great opportunity for senior leaders or experienced employees to give back to the next generation of the company. It’s also a valuable learning experience that reveals their communication skills and ability to build relationships with others.
Ultimately, mentors become more competent as leaders and communicators as they guide and help rising talent.
Here are some specific goals mentors may have when beginning their mentoring relationship:
- Validate the mentor’s leadership skills. The responsibility of helping guide someone’s career and goals requires the senior employee to teach, motivate and offer honest feedback in difficult conversations. All these skills are at the top of the required list for a leader.
- Become recognized as an advisor throughout the company. As a mentor provides uses their wealth of experience to advise more junior employees it’s likely that they will recognise the value they received from their mentorship. In this way, others may begin to recognise them as valuable sources of advice and guidance and seek their mentorship. In short, they’ll gain a reputation for being a great mentor.
- Learn to clearly communicate. If you’ve ever had to explain something to somebody, you probably noticed that you had to think it through and clean up your explanation to make it easy for another person to understand. Mentors will become better communicators and listeners by virtue of being in a mentoring relationship.
- Expand their understanding of new perspectives. While the mentor is usually in the position of imparting knowledge to the mentee, a mentoring relationship can also help the mentor gain new perspectives. Learning about new technologies or the values of younger employees can be a valuable outcome for mentors.
- Find hidden talent for potential promotions or leadership roles. Being a mentor is a great opportunity to find up-and-coming talent for promotions or special projects. Mentorship is helpful for both the mentor and mentee’s networks in this way.
The goals of a mentee are central to the success of the mentoring relationship. What do they want to get out of meeting with a more experienced leader once or twice a month? Some may want to gain visibility from leadership so they’ll be considered for new opportunities.
Other mentees may want to learn specific hard or soft skills like communication, negotiation, or conflict management.
Mentees can have several goals - let’s explore them below:
- Learn the workplace culture. For newer mentees who have recently joined a company, it can be invaluable to connect with a mentor who can shed light on the company culture. They can quickly become more aware of workplace routines, policies, and expectations. Goals like these are common in onboarding mentorship programs.
- Accelerate skills development. Through the advice and guidance of a mentor, the mentee can develop specific skills like conflict management, problem-solving, communication, or negotiation. In some cases, mentees may even work with their mentor around developing specific technical skills like financial forecasting or project management.
- Networking opportunities. Being in a mentoring program is an incredible opportunity to build a mentees network. Mentees can build meaningful connections with mentors in senior positions at the company and be gain visibility for future promotions or special projects. Furthermore, mentors can connect their mentees with their own network making important introductions that lead to new opportunities.
- Career advise or professional development. Having a mentor who’s been where you are now is invaluable in navigating life’s circumstances. Mentees may have the goal of having someone they can go to for advice and guidance for the tough questions like whether a career path is right for them. For mentees from diverse backgrounds, having mentors that share their background is important to supporting their inclusion within the company.
Guidelines to tracking the progress of your mentorship program
Establishing key performance indicators that measure the effectiveness of your mentoring program is essential. These metrics for success should be decided on and tracked from the onset of the program. Without them, it will be difficult to gain support from leadership and know if all the participants are getting value from it.
How to measure success in large programs
If your mentoring program is small (less than 10 people) then understanding if the program is a success just by talking to them is reasonable. But as the program scales, it becomes increasingly difficult to get both the qualitative and quantitative data to support and provide feedback on your mentoring program.
Together's mentoring software was built specifically for large mentorship programs:
- Together handles the registration process of mentors and mentees, collecting critical information on them that will help pair them later on with a mentor or mentee.
- Leverage both existing employee data and the data collected from registration to build a questionnaire that informs our pairing algorithm. It cuts the time spent on the pairing process to a fraction of the time.
- Receive resources like mentee and mentor handbooks that help participants know the best practices around building a successful mentoring relationship.
- Reporting features are built right into the software to ensure that program administrators can monitor the progress of the program and demonstrate its results.
Employers who are thinking of adopting a mentoring program will need to consider how they’ll access the information they need to determine program success. One such measure might be staff retention with the program in place vs. without the program. Understanding how well a program is working allows overseers to make adjustments accordingly.
Proving impact: determining return on investment
Company leadership will ask about the return on investment of the mentoring program. To do this, define how much a mentoring program will cost the organization and compare it to the potential cost savings or revenue generation. Try our employee turnover cost calculator that shows the value of mentorship.
Each key result, whether it is Glassdoor rating improvement, retention improvement, etc, will yield a return, and it’s important to quantify it.
For help quantifying return on investment, see our white paper on Measuring Return on Investment of Mentoring.
Communicating expectations for mentors and mentees
When starting a mentorship program, you need to communicate what’s expected of mentors and mentees. Without them, mentoring relationships can be confused on what to talk about. Here are examples of expectations for mentors and mentees.
Expectations of mentors
- Clearly communicate advice or guidance.
- Show empathy when listening to your mentee and providing advice.
- Listen to understand before providing advice.
- Connect your mentee with others who can help them grow in areas you may not be an expert in.
- Share stories not just advice; we learn best through stories and they encourage a strong relationship.
Expectations of mentees
- Know your goals and communicate them clearly with your mentor.
- Come with thoughtful questions.
- Actively listen to what your mentor shares. Take short notes of key things that are discussed or learned.
- Apply what you learn and follow up with your mentor. Let them know how their advice is changing your day-to-day.
- Drive the relationship. It isn’t the mentor's responsibility to decide on what each session is about.
In setting clear expectations as a program manager, you’ll help pairs build a foundation for a successful relationship.
Examples of feedback mentors and mentees can provide
As a program manager, it’s helpful to provide your mentors and mentees with tips on how to provide good feedback. As pairs get busy with their day-to-day, they may forget to stop, reflect on their relationship.
Here are examples of mentor and mentee feedback. Provide them with these prompts to encourage reflection:
Examples of mentee feedback
- You taught me…
- A story you shared impacted me because…
- The greatest impact your support has provided is…
- I’m most grateful for…
Examples of mentor feedback
- In this area, I’ve seen the most growth…
- When we first met you were…now you’ve grown to be…
- Something I’ve learned from you is…
- I’ve enjoyed our mentoring sessions thus far because…
By giving mentors and mentee examples of feedback, it encourages them to keep building a strong relationship. It can also be encouraging for them to hear the positive impacts they’re having.
What employees want from workplace mentoring programs
After surveying employees from 50+ leading companies we uncovered 5 key insights to keep in mind when building your mentorship program. The results are displayed in the infographic below. You can download the infographic to learn what employees want from workplace mentoring programs.
Further guidelines for running a successful mentoring program
As you build and launch your mentorship program, you’ll notice that there’s nuance to how they run. For example, do all mentors and mentees pair at the same time, or can new participants join midway through the program? Additionally, how will you check in with mentoring pairs? Will it be weekly or monthly? And will you have them fill out a form or will it be anecdotal check-ins?
Let’s unpack some of these small, but important considerations. In doing so, you’ll start to form guidelines for how your mentoring program will run.
Decide on Cohort vs Evergreen model
Many mentoring programs have a clear start and end date. This is helpful for measuring results and ensuring that all participants are on the same timeline. But what if an employee wants to join as a mentor or mentee midway through the program? Do they have to wait or is the program flexible enough to accommodate this?
At Together, companies running mentorship programs decide between cohort and (what we call) Evergreen mentorship models. Evergreen mentorship programs don’t have a start or end date. Employees can come and go.
Depending on the goals of your program, Cohort or Evergreen models may make more sense. Each has its strengths.
Ensure every mentoring pair is meaningful
Program managers play an important role in helping mentors and mentees build strong relationships. If there’s a mismatch between pairs, program managers need to quickly accommodate a switch. A worst-case scenario is that an employee suffers through an incompatible match without speaking up.
Program managers can use mentor-matching software to guarantee that every pair is relevant and meaningful. Pairing algorithms like what we have at Together take into account employees' tenure, skills, goals, and preferences to match them with a hyper-relevant mentor.
Using pairing software also saves program administrators a lot of time. One program administrator shared that “The pairing for mentoring is seamless with the Together Platform. Prior to having the platform, it took at least 8 people and a couple of weeks to get it done.”
Check in with mentoring pairs and leverage feedback
It’s important to make a good mentor match. But it’s equally important to check in with pairings throughout their relationship. Similar to the above point, this can help catch any issues like a mismatch. But it’s also important for generating reports on your program.
To get meaningful data on how the program is progressing you should be measuring your mentorship program. This includes things like how many mentors and mentees sign up and how often they’re meeting.
But you should also measure sentiment. Have them fill out feedback forms after each meeting by giving the meeting a rating out of 4. Likewise, check in with them midway through the program to ask several questions about how they feel about their mentor or mentee, the program, what they’re learning, and more.
Getting feedback not only helps you build a better program, but it gives you data you can use to prove its success to your leadership.
Experiment with new mentoring formats
As you run your program, you may decide to switch things up. By offering different ways of pairing employees you can encourage new types of learning. For this reason, there are many different mentoring models you can choose to adopt.
Here are three worth trying out:
- Reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is when a junior employee acts as the mentor to a more senior employee. This is a great way to give leaders new perspectives. It’s commonly used for exposing executives to new ways of working or for connecting leaders with talent from underrepresented backgrounds for diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- Peer mentoring. In peer mentoring, employees at similar levels or tenures coach each other drawing from their unique skills or knowledge. This is commonly done to encourage cross-department collaboration.
- Mentoring circles. Mentoring circles get employees from all levels in the organization to share their knowledge and experiences. It’s a low-pressure way to introduce mentorship as more shy employees don’t have to feel pressured to engage 1-on-1 with a leader, which can feel intimidating. Likewise, employees can quickly build their network through mentoring circles.
These are just a few of several types of mentoring programs organizations can run. Which one is best depends on the goals of the program.