Mentoring programs at work often begin with an employee who believes in the power of mentorship. At Together, we speak with ambitious HR and People Leaders everyday and they share with us the trials and tribulations of starting up a mentoring program in their organization. There is so much overlap between their stories we want to tell you one:
Meet Wanda. She’s an HR manager who is passionate about helping individuals across her organization grow and succeed. She takes a lot of pride in her ability to connect employees with executives and managers that can help them overcome obstacles and realize their career goals. She decided she wanted to help her organization build a successful mentoring program. After pitching it successfully to other executives, she got the thumbs up to run a pilot program which attracted 50 employees to register.
With this number of participants, Wanda felt confident she could match them up manually using a spreadsheet. She’d meet with each participant, take down the goals of the mentees and the skills and experiences of the mentors. She’d organize it all in columns and match mentors and mentees manually based on what she remembered about her conversations with them and her notes.
When asked about how she felt about using a spreadsheet to run her pilot program she’d say,
“I don’t mind–I know all the people involved, and I’ll be able to make good matches. It’s not that difficult.”
While Wanda excelled at time management and was able to work through the matching process quickly, she knew that for the mentoring program to grow, she wouldn’t be able to continue with her current approach. It just wasn’t sustainable.
A few weeks after the mentoring program launched, word got around about employees getting 1-on-1 time with executives. More employees approached Wanda asking when they could join. It left Wanda wondering, “I can’t manage this if it grows beyond 50 people. I’m already stretched thin with my other responsibilities. How can I work smarter, not harder?”
Wanda wanted to see the mentoring program grow at her organization but was overwhelmed by the administrative tasks. She was starting to forget why she started the program in the first place. While she still loved supporting employee development, she needed to find a quicker mentor matching solution.
We hear these types of stories all the time at Together. It is why we’ve built a platform that can be customized and scale up with your workplace mentoring program. Our pairing process is done through an algorithm that can be customized, making the process leaner and more agile.
Mentoring programs greater than 50 participants need Together’s platform to manage it
Running mentoring programs in the workplace takes time and effort. Realistically, if you’re going to run the program manually using spreadsheets it’s only feasible if you have less than 25 participants. If your program is growing past that number, it will be an administrative burden to manage. You’ll use up all your time collecting information on participants while neglecting other important parts of the program. Some of the challenges of running a mentoring program using spreadsheets include:
- Not having enough time to promote the program
- Struggling to collect registrants and enter their information in the spreadsheet
- Pairing mentors and mentees and making sure the match is successful
- Overseeing communication, such as when matches are made, and meetings are scheduled
- Sharing resources to help mentors and mentees build a successful relationship, such as meeting agendas, sample questions, or activities.
- Follow up with participants to measure the value they get from the program
We’ve created the following chart as an easy guide to help you know when the time is right to transition to mentoring software.
The benefits of using mentoring software
A successful mentoring programs has several steps:
- Tracking and touching base with participants
Managing all of these elements can be overwhelming when your only tools are email and spreadsheets. That is where mentoring software comes in. With Together, you can turn your manual mentoring mess into a simple and streamlined process.
Best user experience for employees
One of the telling features of good mentoring software is user experience. With Together, your employees won’t need to learn any new systems as our program uses existing email and calendar apps. Moreover, our mobile-friendly web interface means your remote employees don’t need to download the app to get connected.
We’ve also built our software with a sophisticated algorithm that uses all the learning goals identified by employees to find them the best possible match. Our research has found that 97 percent of employees felt their mentor or mentee was a great fit.
Enhancing the user experience goes beyond interacting with our program. We’ve created guided agendas that can help mentors and mentees through every step of their journey. Our mentorship handbooks and blog posts help employees learn to be effective participants and get the most out of their experience.
Ability to customize every element of the program to suit your needs and goals
Each mentoring program is unique and should reflect the style and energy of your organization. Together allows you to brand program elements to reflect your company’s unique voice. You’ll be able to customize the registration questionnaire either by selecting from our question banks or writing your own. Our app can also support any language needed.
You can adjust the pairing process by editing the algorithm to focus on what matters most to you. Program admins can also decide what type of pairing works best, including allowing employees to choose their own matches.
Together also allows you to provide resources to participants to guide their experience. You can choose to use our resources or integrate your existing LMS resources.
When it comes to reporting, you can opt to measure what matters most to you. Our program can generate reports quickly and accurately so you can track the success of your mentoring program.
Support team to provide guidance every step of the way
Even with the most intuitive software solutions, there may be times you need a little extra support. Together is there for you when you need it with our live in-app chat support, 24/7 email support, and of course, you can always call us. Customers can also access our self-help center that includes detailed program documentation. We also offer account monitoring, reviews and check-ins for our customers to be sure they are getting the most out of our program. These are just some reasons why 94 percent of our customers sign back with us year after year.
Here is what admins say about manually running a mentoring program
We are confident that Together is the best option for your mentoring program. But don’t take our word for it. Here are what some program admins have said about trying to run mentorships with a manual process.
- “I’ve [run mentoring programs] before with spreadsheets and I never want to see it again.”
- “I would feel like ‘gosh I hate this time of year’ not because of the program itself but just there's so much work that went into it. I felt like there must be a better way–let's work smarter, not harder.”
- “There would be 15 of us sitting at a table and we'd say “Bob over here–he's looking for someone with leadership experience.” And it turned into this really tedious, time-consuming matching process. There wasn't a rhyme or reason to it. When I added up all the hours it was crazy. Why are we not using a tech solution that can scale within the organization that was 28,000 people?”
- “We're looking for something that can help us match people together based on a combination of their skills and interests.”; “I'm already running a mentorship program. It’s just extremely difficult using spreadsheets and Survey Monkey.”
If you’re tired of spending hours pouring over spreadsheets managing your workplace mentoring program, let us show you a better way. Contact Together today.