Workplace mentoring - A Quick Start Guide

Here's a quick start guide when beginning your mentoring program.

Matthew Reeves

CEO of Together

Published on 

March 22, 2021

Updated on 

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Starting a workplace mentoring program is one of the most positive things you can do for your organization. Through mentorships you can improve employee engagement, enhance employee skillset, and onboard new hires more effectively.

Compared to workshops and training for your employees, starting a mentoring program is an affordable way to make a positive impact on your business. But it is important to know that successful mentoring programs don’t just happen. It takes some investment to start and manage workplace mentorships. 

How do you structure mentoring relationships?

Mentorship is a unique relationship that a more experienced employee develops with a less experienced employee. Traditionally, this has been between an older individual matched with a younger employee. However, successful mentoring programs can also include various other mentor-mentee matches such as peer-to-peer and reverse mentorships for underrepresented employees

Simply, employees that are committed to building relationships with others for the sake of their mutual growth, learning, or professional development can be considered mentors. By looking at mentorship through that lens, your colleague who you can always count on to give you honest feedback that keeps you grounded can be considered a mentor. Likewise, the manager you keep in touch with from a previous position because they always had sound advice is most likely a mentor to you—even if you’ve not considered them one until now. 

The point is, mentors—and mentorship programs—look very different today than they did in the past. For example, 

  • Cooley, a global law firm with 1,500 lawyers across 17 offices leverages mentoring programs to onboard new lawyers and get them up to speed quickly. They would connect new hires with a more experienced associate so they had someone they could rely on for support beyond just their manager. Unsurprisingly, A Great Place To Work Survey found that 95% of employees at Cooley say it is a great place to work compared to 59% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company. 
  • King Games, the creators of the widely popular game Candy Crush, introduced mentorship programs specifically for non-male identifying and underrepresented employees. The video games industry is predominately male, so King’s mentorship program supported and empowered minority employees in their careers. Their mentors would help them develop various hard and soft skills, connect them to others and grow their networks, open up opportunities for leadership positions or high-value projects.  These programs quickly fostered a strong company culture. 
  • Randstad, a multinational human resource consulting, started a mentoring program to increase employee engagement and support their development. When monitoring the results of their program they found that employees participating in the mentoring program were 49% less likely to leave Randstad. This led to substantial savings in turnover costs. Additionally, many mentors and mentees cited feeling more confident in their skills and abilities after the program.

These are just some of the examples of successful mentoring programs. There are many other companies that have started mentorship programs in their workplaces and seen tremendous benefits.

What outcomes can organizations expect from starting a mentoring program?

Workplace mentoring has many benefits—for the mentee, mentor, and the organization. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Lower employee turnover rate. In a study by the University of Southern California, they found that mentorship was an effective strategy for increasing internal mobility and staff retention.
  • More highly-skilled employees. A meta-analysis into the outcomes of mentoring on employees was a greater number of promotions, more commitment to their careers, and feeling more satisfied with their careers.
  • More engaged employees. In a survey of sales professionals, those who were part of a mentoring program were found to have significantly higher engagement scores than employees who were not.
  • Better leaders. Those who mentor others experience many of the same benefits their mentees do. In a study of the career outcomes of mentors and non-mentors, the findings indicated that mentors were more satisfied with their jobs and committed to the organization.

Despite the many benefits of having a mentor, only 39% of respondents in one study said that nearly half the mentors they interact with don't leave an impact. It can be challenging to find a potential mentor and awkward to try and start that relationship. It’s common for people to think that mentorship should happen ‘organically’ but that can easily lead to people waiting for someone to just show up in their life, ready to mentor them. Instead, organizations can play a pivotal role in their employee's learning and development by offering mentorship programs. In this way, they can opt-in to find a mentor. 

Guidelines for starting a workplace mentoring program

Successful mentoring programs always begin with a plan or a strategy. By setting some goals for your workplace mentoring program, you’ll be defining clear expectations and guidelines for participants. Doing this can improve employee satisfaction with the program. Here are some tips for getting started.

1. Set goals for your mentoring program

Workplace mentoring programs are often started to boost business performance in one way or another. There are many ways that you can use a mentoring program to achieve business goals. For example, mentoring can be an essential part of the onboarding process.

You may design mentorships that help employees develop leadership skills. Mentoring can also be a central part of succession planning for your organization. Decide what benefit your company needs most from a mentoring program.

Once you have selected your goal and objective, you’re ready to get started.

2. Gather registration details

Collecting participant details may seem like one of the most daunting tasks of running a workplace mentoring program, which is why many companies use mentoring software to simplify the process.

With Together, you’re able to customize the registration questions. Doing this helps you keep your mentoring program goals in focus and better match up your participants.

Through mentoring software, you can have control over the registration process. It can also help speed along the development of your program by setting a deadline for registration, sending out email invitations to potential participants, and promote the program across various company channels. 

3. Make the match

Pairing mentors and mentees together is one of the most crucial elements of a successful mentoring program.

The match can make or break the mentoring experience. You’ll want to set up mentees with mentors that they can connect to and people who allow them to learn desirable skills.

Unless you have countless hours to spend manually matching participants, pairing individuals is one of the biggest benefits of a mentoring software. Using sophisticated algorithms, Together can analyze participant’s goals and skills to make successful matches. You’ll also be able to give mentors and mentees some control over the matching process, which boosts participant satisfaction with the program. 

4. Track goals

At the beginning of the mentorship, it is important for a mentee to set goals that will guide the interactions with their mentor. These individual goals will usually be aligned with the overarching business goals for the mentoring program. Software like Together can help track the progress that mentees make towards their goals. Tracking goals is done by allowing participants to assess their skills before, during, and after the mentorship.  

5. Analyze program success

Once you have started the program and mentorships are in place, you’ll want to track the program’s success. A mentoring program is only successful if it can achieve the goals you defined for it.

Monitoring mentorship activity, satisfaction, and key performance indicators are essential to determine if your program has done what it set out to do. Together’s mentoring software has built-in reporting that can make this step easier. You’ll be able to see which mentor-mentee pairs are meeting and how often. Participants can provide feedback through surveys and skill assessments. Tracking insights into your workplace mentoring program can’t get any easier. 

Creating a workplace mentoring program for your organization can be exciting. As you define your goals, create successful matches, and track mentorship progress, you’ll be building a culture of mentoring that will have an ongoing and positive impact on your company for the long term.

Getting it right can take some time and effort. Together’s mentoring software was designed to partner with you and make building a successful mentoring program easier. Consider your workplace mentoring program an investment that will help you achieve your business goals.

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