At Together, we work with companies across just about every industry – many of which fit within professional services. Law firms, accountants, architects, and consultants all stand to benefit from well-run mentorship programs.
Mentorship programs can take many forms within our platform; it depends on the goals of your organization and the needs of its employees.
Whether you're looking for a structured 1-on-1 program, a group format, a small pilot program, or something else, Together has tools to help HR managers design and launch successful mentorship programs within professional services companies.
Read on for seven steps to designing your professional services company's mentoring program with Together.
Why do you want to start a mentoring program?
Launching a mentoring program is an excellent way to help your business grow and develop internal talent.
What are your main goals?
To help you get started, we've compiled a list of common goals that businesses often have when implementing mentorship programs.
These goals include:
- Fostering better communication skills among employees,
- Promoting team cohesion and collaboration,
- Improving job satisfaction,
- Developing leadership skills in both mentors and mentees, and
- Increasing awareness of safety practices in the workplace.
These goals fit within several use cases, such as for diversity, equity, and inclusion training, onboarding new employees, skill-building and knowledge enhancement, or career development opportunities.
Professional firms need to uphold their standards of excellence and compliance whilst building a strong culture of trust, which can be achieved through mentoring.
Have you identified the purpose of your program? Next, it's time to start designing it on Together’s award-winning platform.
Step 1: Decide on a 1-on-1 or Group program
At Together, we understand the importance of customization, which is why we offer two distinct options that can be tailored to meet your requirements. Consider which format will work best for your specific needs.
For those looking to help individual employees advance their careers, our 1-on-1 mentorship program might be the ideal choice.
- This format involves pairing a seasoned employee with a less experienced colleague, allowing for personalized guidance and skill development.
- While typically, the senior employee takes on the role of mentor and the junior employee as the mentee, we also offer peer mentorship for employees at similar levels.
- Randstad, for example, runs several mentoring programs, one of which is a 1-on-1 program designed to prepare employees for future leadership roles. Learn more about Randstad’s program, and it’s impact on retention.
Alternatively, if you're looking to foster team cohesion while developing skills across a group of employees, our Group Mentorship program might be a better fit.
- This format creates a safe space for employees to learn from one another and receive the same information and advice.
When you've decided on the best format for your mentorship program, locking it in is easy through our platform.
The screenshot below shows the 'Pairing Format' page.
Step 2: Decide on a Cohort or Evergreen program
When it comes to structuring a mentorship program, the first thing to consider is how new participants will be added and when they can join. The two options available on our platform are Cohort and Evergreen.
Option 1 – Cohort
If you have a group of new graduates or clerks joining your organization at the same time, the Cohort mentorship program is the way to go. It allows for a fixed joining period, and once registration closes, the program can begin – ideal if you're looking to train and develop a new team or department simultaneously.
Option 2 – Evergreen
The Evergreen mentorship program remains open at all times. Mentors and mentees can join or leave as they please, and new members can be added at any time.
It's a particularly helpful option if you're consistently hiring new people and cannot predict when someone will be due to join.
You'll also benefit from Evergreen if you want to make mentorship consistently available across the board, perhaps as a company incentive.
Keep in mind that an Evergreen program requires the least maintenance.
Once you've made a decision on which program to choose, navigate to the 'Program Cycle' on the platform to get started.
Step 3: Name your program and add details
It seems almost superfluous to think about naming a mentorship program – after all, it's just a title and doesn't dictate the quality of the program itself. But keep in mind that professionals are incredibly busy people; they're not going to commit to something if they don't deem it truly worthwhile.
That's why it pays to be creative when coming up with a name for your program. If you want to inspire people to join, try and come up with something that encapsulates the spirit of mentorship in your organization – perhaps something like 'Pathway to Success' or 'The Learning Curve'.
Be wary of making it too ambiguous, however. Being clear is more important than being creative. It's about striking a balance that resonates with people and encourages them to take part.
- Example of a good program name: "Hector and Spencer Law – Accelerating Professional Development for Graduates"
- Example of a poorly-named program: "Hector and Spencer Law Mentorship Program"
You'll see a 'Program Name' field when you get to the 'General Information’ page.
Step 4: Configure the registration questionnaire and matching rules
On paper, mentoring is clearly an excellent strategy for professional growth. So why do mentorship programs still fail? It's quite simple: if the pairings are all wrong, the program falls flat.
That's why it's important to ensure that you get the right people together in a mentorship relationship. It's also the reason we've developed a powerful pairing algorithm, which you can use to your full advantage on our platform. You can:
- Add and subtract from our pre-added questions
- Set rules for how participants should be matched
- Customize all of the questions and add your own to suit your goals
Perhaps you're matching each new graduate with a more senior mentor, or setting up a 'buddy system' for new hires; you can tailor your questions to figure out which mentor has the skill set to suit each mentee's goals and learning needs. With the matching rules, you can choose to prioritize certain characteristics and skill sets over others.
Examples of registration questions include:
- Which skills would you like to develop through mentorship?
- What are your goals in pursuing mentorship?
- Are you more interested in learning about the client-facing side of the business or internal operations?
- How much time are you able to commit to mentoring sessions?
- Are there any specific topics or areas of expertise you would like your mentor to have?
Step 5: Prepare your program for launch
The leadup to putting your program into action involves a number of key steps. You're not quite ready for takeoff just yet!
- Review email notifications: On our platform, we use email notifications to make sure everyone taking part in the program is informed at every stage. Use our helpful templates to craft the perfect message for your participants or customize them to reflect your own program's style and values.
- Set rules for who can participate in your program: Do you want to restrict the program to a specific department, or open it up to everyone? Set rules to ensure your program stays within scope.
- Manage integrations: Together integrates with helpful tools like Zoom, Oracle, ADP, Slack, and many more. Decide which tools you want to use and set up the integrations.
- Set up the pairing process: Take a look at your Pairing Readiness Report to find out what your program's capacity is (see the image below as an example). It'll indicate how many pairs you can make as well as whether anyone's getting left out.
- Review program content: On the platform, you can add resources to help your participants learn and grow. You'll also be able to set up pre-determined agendas and tasks for each pair.
With these details sorted, you're ready to launch!
Step 6: Launch pairing
Ready to flick the switch? Whenever you'd like the pairing process to begin, press 'Turn on pairing' and your careful preparation will begin to play out.
Select admin-led pairing to confirm the pairs yourself, or choose user-led pairing to allow your participants to submit their own preferences. You can either automatically or manually approve the pairs – it just depends on how much you trust the conditions you've set (but we can help with that!)
Keep in mind that the pairing process can be switched off at any time. No emails will be sent out until you're completely happy with the results.
Step 7: Monitor and report on your program
All done? Not so fast. The days and weeks to follow are arguably the most important; you'll be able to measure the success of your program by tracking key metrics and checking in on participants.
- 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
Carve out regular check-ins to ensure your program is running smoothly and participants are getting the most out of their experience.
There you have it – a successfully actioned mentorship program! With the right preparation, you can design and launch a program with Together that will bring real benefits to your professional services company.
We wish you luck in your mission to equip employees with the skills they need to make meaningful progress; we know it's no small feat. Get in touch if you'd like to book a demo and learn more about how Together can help.