Mentorship

What is a mentorship program?

What is a mentorship program and why would you need to start one? Whether you're thinking of ways to help employees learn, expand students networks, or build a community here's everything you need to know about mentoring programs.

Ryan Carruthers

April 26, 2022

In the ideal world, mentors would be a dime a dozen. Not only that, but your perfect pairing would be a piece of cake to find, and the relationship would develop organically – no intervention necessary. 

Unfortunately, we live in the business world; an atmosphere of time constraints, fast-paced change, and scarce resources. Luckily, there are mentorships programs to help bridge the gap. What’s a mentorship program? And how do they benefit both parties involved?

Let's break these questions down.

What is a mentorship program?

Mentorships aren't romantic, but they share similarities. In both instances, you aren't looking for just anyone to pair with; you're looking for someone compatible, and someone with whom you can develop a trusting back-and-forth. 

Again, ideal circumstances would allow for the seamless and stress-free pairing of mentors with mentees – but in the absence of a perfect world, mentorship programs address the issue of pairing the right people together.

Mentorship programs take on many shapes and sizes, but all have one common goal: to match experienced professionals with people who could use their guidance. Mentors can share their knowledge, skills, and contacts with their mentees; and in turn, the mentee can offer support, feedback, and access to new opportunities.

Mentorship programs can be found in a variety of places, including schools, workplaces, and social clubs. But no matter where they're located, all mentorship programs share the same goal: to help people grow and develop professionally.

What are the benefits of mentoring programs?

When it comes to pairing your employees with ideal mentors, programs are incredibly beneficial. They take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and make it easy for mentors and mentees to find each other.

Let’s get more specific by breaking down the specific benefits of mentoring programs.

Attract and retain talent

Attracting top talent is hard, to say nothing of retaining them. Mentorship programs incentivize your employees to stick around by helping them foster meaningful connections with mentors and peers.

Promote diversity

When companies offer mentoring programs, studies show that 74 percent of minority employees participate. Promote a culture of diversity and inclusion by giving all employees the opportunity to connect with mentors. 

Improve employee engagement

Over half of all employees describe themselves as being disengaged in their workplace. It's hard to disengage when you're constantly challenged to improve and excel, so encourage your employees to get involved by pairing them with an ideal mentor. 

Help employees reach their potential

Would you like to see the productivity of your workforce improve by 10 percent? 20 percent? What about 400 percent? That's what mentorship can make possible, according to research. High performers are four times more productive than their average counterparts – so mentorship and skills development should be a top priority. 

Build future leaders

Succession planning is always a wise move. Now is the time to begin raising up potential future leaders within your company. Mentorship programs offer an effective way to do this, pairing employees that show great potential with experienced professionals. 

Enhance the onboarding experience

According to BambooHR, 56 percent of employees immediately look for a mentor upon joining a new company. Mentorship programs allow you to deliver on this expectation, helping new employees get up to speed quickly. 

Support remote workers

'Remote' doesn't have to mean 'isolated', and mentorship programs can bridge the gap for those who work remotely. By connecting with a mentor, remote employees can feel more connected to the company – and less like an outsider. 

Increase employee wellbeing

Mentors aren't just there to give career and business advice; they can also provide emotional support. When employees are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, a mentor can be a valuable resource.

Where do we find mentorship programs?

Evidently, there are plenty of benefits to enjoy through the use of a mentorship program – but who exactly is using these programs? Where are they found in the real world?

Workplaces

This is perhaps the most obvious use case. Businesses want their employees to excel and reach their full potential, and what better way to do that than by matching them up with a mentor? 

Mentorship programs in the workplace are often organized by department or rank. For example, a CEO might have a mentorship program for their direct reports, while an intern might be matched with a more experienced employee in their field of work.

Mentorship programs can also be helpful in creating a sense of community within a company. Employees who have gone through the program often feel like they are part of an exclusive club, and are more likely to stick around for longer periods of time. 

Professional associations

Because professional associations are often concerned with furthering the interests of their members or the public, they will often use mentorship programs to ensure that their members have access to important resources.

For example, a professional association for accountants might have a mentorship program where experienced accountants are matched up with new or upcoming accountants. This allows the experienced accountant to share their knowledge and skills, while also providing guidance and support to the new accountant.

Mentorship programs can also be used to help members transition into new roles or fields. For example, a member of a professional association who is looking to make the switch from accounting to marketing might be matched up with a mentor who is an expert in that field.

Non-profit organizations

Charities and non-profit organizations often use mentorship programs as a way to give back to the community. They will often match up volunteers with at-risk youths or newcomers who are looking for guidance and support.

A non-profit organization might have a mentorship program that matches up a volunteer who is an expert in a particular field with someone who is looking to learn more about that field. For instance, a non-profit might have a mentorship program for new immigrants who are looking to learn about the Canadian job market.

Universities

As an environment devoted to academia and learning, universities are a natural place for mentorship programs. In many cases, universities will have a mentorship program where professors are matched up with students.

Mentors can offer guidance and support to their students and can act as a valuable resource for them. In some cases, mentors may even be able to help their students find scholarships or jobs.

Another common type of mentorship program at universities is the graduate mentor program. This is where recent graduates are matched up with current students, often to provide support and guidance in the transition from student to working professional.

Online communities

Finally, there is room for mentorship in the online space, too. Online communities are a great place for people to find mentors and mentees.

There are plenty of online mentorship programs that cater to different niches. For example, there might be a mentorship program for entrepreneurs, or for people who want to learn new skills.

Online mentorship programs can be a great way to connect with people from all over the world. They can also be a great way to find mentors who are experts in specific fields.

What are examples of mentorship programs?

We know that mentorship programs are used across a variety of spaces – but what do they look like practically? Let's delve into a few real-world examples of mentorship programs.

Workplace mentoring program: Avison Young

Avison Young is a leading commercial real estate firm that greatly values diversity. The year 2020 saw them launch several initiatives to reflect this core value, one of which was a mentorship program to support minority groups within the organization. 

Using Together's mentoring software to intelligently pair mentors with mentees, Avison Young saw the following positive outcomes:

  • A noticeable improvement in retention
  • Recognition by leaders in the field
  • High employee satisfaction and engagement with the program
  • Inspiration for more mentor programs to come

“I'm thrilled that Avison Young created this, and I look forward to growing here with the help of this mentoring program," participants said. 

Professional association: The Forum

Women empowerment non-profit, The Forum, is based around connecting female entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to thrive. As such, the organization places great value on connecting mentors with mentees

The Forum used Together's software in order to take the manual labour and human error out of mentorship pairings, and as a result, the process came off without a hitch. The organization has grown to four times its size in the space of one year with no plans of slowing. 

University: Canadian arts school

In 2019, a study was published on the impacts of mentorship programs in universities. The aim of the study was to see if, and to what extent, a mentorship program would improve student outcomes.

Where possible, mentors were matched with mentees in a similar discipline. Both mentors and mentees attended training sessions, as they might when taking part in a real mentorship program. 

The study revealed some fascinating insights:

  • The most effective mentorships take place between those who are paired according to their discipline
  • Mentorships are highly effective in the university setting – but most students don't seek them out
  • In order for mentorships to have a bigger impact, students need to be encouraged to form mentorships at the university

This is where mentorship programs come in. By providing a formalized and supported structure for mentorship, universities can encourage students to form relationships with mentors – benefiting both the mentor and mentee in the process.

How to start a mentoring program without breaking a sweat

We get it – it's tough to arrange a mentorship program. Add the daily complications of running a business, and it can feel impossible. But mentorship is a powerful way to help employees develop their skills and grow their careers.

So, how can you create a successful program without too much extra effort? Together has a great solution. 

With our powerful algorithm and pairing software, you don't need to worry about making the perfect mentor-mentee partnership. We'll take care of the details for you.

Together offers a wealth of resources to help you succeed, including: 

  • Simple registration tools for collecting information from employees
  • Calendar integrations to help schedule meetings and track progress
  • Developmental data so that you can track the growth and success of your mentorship program over time
  • Powerful reporting to point out strengths and weaknesses

At Together, we offer mentorship in pretty much every form you can imagine, whether that be 1-on-1 pairings, group mentorship, or reverse mentorship. We can also help with arranging flash mentorship, peer-to-peer learning, and resource groups. 

Ready to take your employee development to the next level? Find out how Together’s mentoring software makes the process a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. Let’s do this together.

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