You have taken the bold step of making mentoring a structured process in your organization. Now, you are eager for it to be a tremendous success so employees can sign up as mentors and mentees.
In this article, we share tips for building a successful mentoring program, especially if you’re in a large organization.
But first, let’s unpack why companies want formal mentoring programs in the first place. Isn’t it enough to rely on organic mentoring relationships?
Why do companies develop formal mentoring programs?
As a leader, manager or member of the L&D team, take a cue from Fortune 500 companies. Most have a formal mentoring program for their employees. They have reported increased job satisfaction and higher commitment to work from employees who serve as mentors and participate as mentees.
Other benefits include employee retention, engagement, and career development. Increased diversity and inclusion in leadership are also reasons a company should have a formal mentoring program in place.
It’s clear there are tremendous benefits to connecting employees with mentors. But in one survey, only a third of employees had ever had a mentor. To give every employee the opportunity, start a formal mentoring program.
Let’s look at how you can make the transition from hoping employees find mentors to actually connecting them.
Making the shift from informal to formal mentoring
It is one thing for employees to seek people they look up to in the organization on their own for career advice. It is another thing to have a formal mentoring program employees can join.
While the former is based on individual choice, the latter requires careful planning, participation, and engagement.
Making the switch between formal and informal mentoring can be quite challenging. You often have to switch from just encouraging employees to seek out mentors to actually creating a mentoring program where mentors are available.
Informal mentoring is unstructured. An employee seeks out a mentor from more experienced colleagues with the hope of gaining insights, guidance, and support.
The relationship is initiated by the mentee or mentor.
Some organizations know informal mentoring happens among their employees. The mentor and mentee run these relationships. Although finding the right mentor requires extra effort from the mentee.
Formal mentoring is a structured program usually organized by the organization where employees can opt-in to become mentors and mentees.
HR management mostly organizes formal mentoring in companies. Although it is cost-effective. It requires time, commitment, and coordination. Its benefit is that you scale it to provide all employees with an opportunity to receive mentorship. Instead of restricting it to one or more departments.
Making the transition from informal to formal mentoring is a process. We’ve dug into the details further in our article, Moving from informal to a formal mentoring program.
How to launch a mentoring program across a large workforce
Launching a mentorship program across a large workforce requires careful planning and the right tools. Using a mentoring platform makes it easy for you to plan everything from registration and pairing to managing participants.
With mentoring software doing all the lifting for you, you can focus on other aspects of your work. All you need is to set your goals and select the right program for your company.
Start with a pilot program
Start by organizing a pilot mentoring program before you expand across the whole organization. This program helps large organizations test-run mentoring on a small scale before going big.
During the pilot mentoring program, you can detect and solve problems that could come up when you eventually scale. It would also be a training ground for program admins to learn how things work and plan for the big come-out.
Get leadership buy-in
After convincing company leaders of the need for a mentorship program, your next task is to convince them of the importance of mentoring software. This means getting buy-in to start a formal mentoring program.
A major point you can bring up when pitching mentoring software is how much administrative time and effort it will save program managers. Time is, of course, money.
Get leadership, which includes managers and supervisors to commit to the program objectives. They should also understand that mentoring can cost them time and energy. Becoming mentors themselves or just seeing to the success of the program through advocacy and funding support.
We have a guide on when you should get mentoring software based on company size. It also contains a table that will show you the approximate hours it takes to run a program with or without software.
Our recent research shows that most organizations don’t train mentors, and it shows. Most mentors at organizations don’t have adequate training. Only 33% of leaders or managers in organizations say they have been trained in mentoring.
Wendy Axelrod, author of 10 Steps to Successful Mentoring spoke with our CEO, Matthew Reeves about what separates successful mentoring programs from those that flop. She shared that cultivating strong mentors was a crucial step in taking a good mentoring program to a great one:
You should organize training sessions that will help employees maximize their abilities as mentors. You shouldn’t leave mentees out too. They need communication skills, planning abilities, and the initiative to set actionable goals.
We have mentoring handbooks and other helpful tips and resources to get you started no matter what stage you are in your mentoring journey.
Make relevant matches at scale
Matching over 50 participants in a mentoring program is an immense challenge. But not when you can use Together Mentoring software to ease the process. Our platform can analyze many registrations and figure out the best pairing with its customizable algorithm.
If you can match two compatible individuals, your mentorship program is already a success. With Together’s algorithm, you can find and match the best pair seamlessly. You can also customize the criteria for matches and scale mentoring programs to achieve your organizational goals.
You know the drill. Let’s talk about why Together is the best platform to launch and manage your mentoring program.
Build your mentorship program on Together
Most departments in large organizations have software that makes their work easier. Increased efficiency and time saving are just some of the crucial benefits of adopting technology in your workplace.
Together is a carefully thought-out mentoring software with all the resources to make mentoring easy for you. From registration to actual pairing and management of the mentoring program, every step is managed from within our platform, making it easy.
You can have mentors and mentees sign up while you manage the program from your dashboard. Our software provides metrics that you can use to evaluate the program's success. You can also review the things that need changing or adjusting.
We also have several use cases where you can draw inspiration from the program that would work best for your company. Our support team is always available if you have questions or need help along the way.