What First-Time Mentorship Program Managers Need to Know to be Successful

The Together team is joined by two mentorship experts, Jodi Petersen and Mary Schlegel, who are the minds behind MentorStrat, a mentoring consulting and training firm that helps organizations build, scale and reimagine mentorship programs. In this video, Jodi and Mary share what you need to know if you’re running a mentorship program for the first time.
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Ryan: Hello. Today we're joined by two mentorship experts and the minds behind MentorStrat. A mentoring consulting and training firm that helps organizations build, scale and reimagine mentorship programs. We have Jodi Petersen - MentorStrat CEO and Mary Schlegel - MentorStrat’s Learning and Development Lead. Thank you two for joining us today. 

Jodi Petersen: Thanks. 

Mary Schlegel: Thanks Ryan, glad to be here. 

Ryan: Amazing. So, it's not an understatement to say that both of you are seasoned veterans when it comes to workplace mentorship. Jodi, before founding MentorStrat, you led a mentoring program for Fortune 50 company driving the strategy development and execution of the program. You also secured a spot on diversity Inc's top companies for mentoring list and were named the 2022 mentoring champion of the year. Mary, you have over eight years of experience in the L&D space leading enterprise programs on Global Talent Management teams. You've also led a diversity focused reverse mentoring program for one of Fortune Magazine's 2021, world's most admired companies, which also earned you the change maker of the year award. So, I'm very excited to be able to bring your expertise to our audience today. Now the topic for the discussion is what first time mentorship program managers need to know to be successful? Before we jump into that topic I'd hope to get a little more color on your backgrounds, Jodi and Mary. So can you share with us how the idea to start a mentorship consultancy and training firm came about? Jodi, let's start with you. 

Jodi Petersen: Yeah. So, my background, I have a long corporate career in technology. And I was working within my company; I was a volunteer member of our women's ERG. And I was asked to actually help automate the matching process for our growing group mentoring program that we had. And up until that point my experience with mentoring was pretty informal. And I didn't even plan to sign up. I thought my volunteer work was going to be enough for my availability. But once I attended the training and really learned about mentoring, its benefits, I saw the passion that people had when they were coming to the training. I was really hooked. So, I did sign up for our group. It really didn't take very long before I became like semi-obsessed with mentoring. I wanted to know everything about it. And I did that. So, I went off on this learning journey for myself. And I spent a couple years then figuring out how to pivot my career from tech to full-time mentoring, I worked with a mentor in order to do that. And I really never looked back. So, it was about a year ago where, actually Barry and I were speaking at a conference geared towards mentoring program managers, and that's where the idea for MentorStrats started to take shape. We were, you know, mentoring has kind of been around since forever, but the dynamics are shifting a little bit. Programs are becoming more intentional and targeted to organizations to help them meet their talent management and DI objectives. So, this shift really has increased the demand for formal mentoring programs. And there's really a shortage of seasoned mentoring professionals who can not only create the strategies but design and run the programs. And so we want and then Mary's, you know, skill set in the training and learning and development side are really kind came to fruition. And that's really why we started MentorStrat. We want to help companies fill that gap to provide the mentor - mentee training, but also to help them train their mentoring program managers on the skills to help them succeed. So, we'll walk along that path with them until they can be off and running on their own. 

Ryan: Amazing! What an introduction! Mary, how did you link up with Jodi, just when MentorStrat was growing? 

Mary Schlegel: Yeah. So, we had kept in touch after the conference, just sharing ideas and best practices. And as she told me about starting on this endeavor, we would meet occasionally to talk about okay, what are you seeing? Where do you think you're going? And as we started to talk more and more about the program managers and Jodi started this group of support for program managers where we could all come together, share best practices, hear what's going on. And during those discussions a lot of common themes came up, that we had faced that, we had gone through kind of on our own and knew that that was not such a fun experience. And from learning and development I've always been fascinated by how do we make the most impact and develop the most opportunity for learning. And take advantage of the fact that there are so many incredible professionals out there with all different kinds of skills who have these, who want to grow and want to share them. And so mentoring was kind of a natural fit for that, how do you think through skills networks, all of these things. And so my passion for learning and development and how do we help people grow on a larger scale combined with what Jodi was doing, bringing that to other companies. And the opportunity to help program managers through training, through walking them through how do you build a strategy for the first time, how do you recruit mentors. It was just pretty irresistible to partner with her again and get a chance to work together to bring this to fruition. So that's how I ended up getting teamed up. 

Ryan: Amazing! What a story! Let's jump into it. I'm sure the listeners are probably first-time mentorship program managers and they want to know the nitty-gritty on how they can get started. So let's jump right into it. For starters I'd like to discuss getting buy-in, both of you have championed mentorship programs as you explained. Can you walk us through how you got buy-in for the mentoring programs that you have run in the past? 

Mary Schlegel: Sure. And I can start with that. One of the first things that we did with our programs is not start with what do we as talent management want to accomplish with mentoring, but what does our company care about most. And so I think what mattered here was, you know, how do we get buy-in from leaders? Well, what do the leaders care about and let's start from there. So, we looked at our organizations five strategic goals. And we said okay, if we know that we are trying to achieve these in the next couple of years, what we can do through mentoring to help us get to those goals. And so we broke down all of the skills that you could focus on and the areas of development underneath each of those goals. So, when you would go to select what you wanted to learn about; you would immediately see hey, this is the corporate goal we have, this is maybe the development area and then this is the specific skill that you could choose to work on with a mentor or that a mentor could offer. And so in that way we wanted to reinforce not only to the employees, the mentors and mentees, that how it escalated up and was part of a bigger fabric but also to our executives, that this is something that's not just going to be a nice to have on the side and people will go off develop all kinds of skills that you don't care about. But these are actually skills that will help us get to our ultimate goals. 

Ryan: Amazing! Now, when you did get buy-in from leadership what were the initial steps you took after you got those thumbs up. 

Jodi Petersen: Yeah. I can talk about this a little bit. So, for us, we did a few things, we had had mentoring happening in our organization for many years, but really informally, in different business areas and different leadership teams. So, once we got the thumbs up to create that scaled enterprise program, we did a couple things. We wanted to make sure that we had everything aligned as Mary was talking about to our, you know, the things our organization, our leadership cared about before we got into program design. So, the first thing we did was take an assessment if you will an inventory of all the mentoring that was happening. For us we came up with, I think it was like 74 different mentoring experiences happening in our organization. And so we really took a look at which ones could roll up into to larger programs, where could we take best practices and expand upon those. But we also didn't want to lose any of that effective mentoring that was happening or any of that specialized mentoring. And we didn't want to confuse employees. So, we did that assessment first. And then the second thing that we did was we knew that we needed, we had about 52000 employees in our company at the time, and we knew that we needed software, so we didn't want to create a program at scale without the software to be able to back that up and so we started along that process. For us being a Healthcare Company it's a pretty secure regimented process that we have to go through in order to get new software installed. So we did that. And the third thing that we did, once we had the assessment done was to create the strategy, we were in the talent management area like Mary, but we didn't want to do that, you know, create the strategy alone. So, we brought people in from other departments, inclusion & diversity, culture and engagement, talent acquisition, leadership development and everyone kind of created this committee who designed the strategy. And once we had our strategy laid out and approved by our senior leaderships, we then making sure really everything was aligned to our top talent management DI objectives, we determined what programs we would need and then we prioritized them on a road map. And so we had I think approximately 17 programs that we would want to design over time. Some already were in operation, some were new and so we laid them all out on a roadmap. And then it was only then that we jumped into program design. So, for us there was a lot of work that went into getting us to the place where we could talk about the structure of a program, the design of the program, the expectations and all of that. So, we really wanted to make sure we did that due diligence. 

Ryan: Wow! What a program design! I think there’s a lot of a nugget to pull out from that. I think for a lot of program managers, they're very good at building the strategy, getting buy-in, having the decks and stuff that get everybody on board. Once they get those thumbs up and they start rolling, a big challenge that we see with our customers is how do we actually get people in the door? Is it as simple as just sending out an email to say we have a mentorship program, click this link, so that you can register? Like is that all there is to it or how can first-time program managers go about promoting their program and attracting mentors and mentees. 

Jodi Petersen: Totally that's it, just a note one email in, everyone's loss. It's like the field of dreams honestly. So, we could talk about this all day long. And this is, as Mary said we run a program, a mentoring program for mentoring program managers and this is the topic that comes up on repeat. So, I would say that we can share our experience through a lot of learning in the School of Hard Knocks when it comes to this. What we first did was worked on internal communication plan. And I think that's a lot of the way that people initially think about recruiting people to their programs. We did that. We worked with our internal communications department, department to create a multi-channel, communication campaign. What we didn't anticipate was that there were a lot of other things happening in our organization, it wasn't just about us and our program. So, we had COVID news that was going on. We had other organizational restructure, the move back to the office from virtual. And so a lot of our stuff got lost in noise. We had to pivot a bit and then take more of a grassroots approach. So, we did in person like, you know, virtual in-person stuff. Like, we attended leader town halls, we did panel discussions, and we elicited help from mentoring champions throughout our organization from key leaders who were mentors. We did a nomination process where people could nominate other people. So, a lot of different strategies that we had to really test and see how they worked for our organization because any company, what works for me may not work for someone else. And so sometimes you have to do these, learn by trial and error and do some kind of AB testing to see what works and be able to, I would say, be agile in your thinking and approach and pivot along the way. But eventually for us we settled into a regular approach. We learned the things that did work, the things that weren't working for us. And we were able to bring, I mean, when I left our organization, we had about 3500 people in our program. And so it was, I think, pretty successful for all that we had going on at the time. 

Ryan: I'd say that's no small feat having 3500 employees in a mentoring program. So that's incredible. I think I want to understand, after they knock it out of the park and everybody is clamoring at the gates to get into the mentoring program. Should they just let everybody in or should they have some kind of vetting process for how they select mentors and mentees? Mary, could you speak to how someone should go about selecting mentors for their program? 

Mary Schlegel: Yeah. This is another topic that could go on for days. But I think the first thing to consider and this is kind of a common theme of what Jodi and I will talk about is, taking a step back and not just getting tunnel vision whether it's recruiting or whatever it is to say okay, let's go back to ground ourselves in the goals of this program, what is this program trying to accomplish and who are the right people to be mentoring. Because sometimes they're going to have very wildly different individuals, we ran a reverse and diverse mentoring program. And in that program we had junior employees of diverse backgrounds, mentoring executives. And so that was a very different mentoring pool than our open program, for example, where the goal there was skill sharing. And so we believed that anybody could share skills that from an executive to an intern, people have all different kinds of skills to learn and we wanted to make that as accessible as possible. So, in a program like that we wanted to make sure there were as few barriers to entry as possible. So, we just had it, you know, as long as you were a full-time or part-time employee and you didn't have any performance outstanding issues, then you could sign up to mentor and share what skills you had and if somebody wanted to work with you on that, then great. Let's go get started. But for other programs, like our reverse and diverse mentoring program that we leverage partnerships with our inclusion diversity team, with our employee resource groups to make sure that we were not only vetting properly but that we were also recruiting intentionally that we weren't overlooking people that, you know, might not have been identified as high potential just because of structural barriers. And so with that I would say before you go about just setting criteria and saying well, this is what I think an ideal mentor looks like, take a look at what your goals are and then partner with the people that make sense depending on the objectives you're trying to accomplish and get their input. And so whether it's through, we did a combination of self-nominations and nominations from our DEI team and from our employee resource groups. We had them submit applications both on the mentor and mentee side to really understand what they were trying to get out of the program and if it was a good fit and then we had like a rubric of selection criteria to identify who would be able to add the most value in this program for one another. 

Ryan: That's incredible. So, I'm hearing that you do want some form of criteria. Like, you don't want to let everybody in, you want to have some criteria and that criteria should come from the goals of the program. So, you really can't just shoot from the hip with the mentorship program. 

Mary Schlegel: You can try but you'll definitely want to iterate. 

Ryan: Jodi, am I hitting a nerve saying that? 

Jodi Petersen: No. I think it's funny. We had a, this is a long topic of conversation. And I agree that there are different types of programs that require different things for our open program because we had so many people in our organization and we have different areas of our business that have different busy times of year and different priorities at different times. We actually instituted a leader approval process where the software would send a message to the leader, basically saying this person signed up to be a mentor, now that was only for mentors, so this person signed up to be a mentor in the program one, we want, you know, you're kind of blessing that they have some base level of mentoring core skills or here's some resources to get them there, right? And that your, you know, here's the tentative timeline and commitment level and your business can afford that right now. And so that process was pretty successful. We didn't just let leaders say no though, if they said not now, then they had to follow a specific process of development to get that mentor or that potential mentor to where they could join the program as a mentor. And so it was pretty successful in terms of opening that line of communication between leaders and employees who wanted to be in a mentor in the program. And sometimes it was simply just having them be a mentee first and learn the process so. 

Ryan: Amazing. It seems like we're talking about training mentors a little bit. I feel like Mary this is your bread and butter. Is there a strict process for training mentors or is it just filtering by they're an executive or a senior manager and they have a good track record behind them. Is there anything more people should think about when they're selecting mentors for their program? 

Mary Schlegel: Yeah. I think both research and just general thoughts about it, when you look at a program I think it's really funny because in training and development, you know, I've developed some really fun interactive and engaging, impactful training and I've also had to work on those projects where you're kind of sitting there like, oh, I don't know how much I'd enjoy taking this, I'm going to do my best to make it like effective and impactful. But we'll see. And so I think it's funny because with mentoring it's unlike any other learning and development program out there in my view where, you know, with a traditional e-learning program or leadership development, usually you're bringing in external resources and coaches and people who sit there and tell you, you know, this is what you need to do. Whereas with mentoring you're leaving it up to the employees at the company largely to train one another and sometimes we can hand hold our employees. And so it's interesting to me we'll say, hey, here go and take this training on how to write an email and then go Mentor Bob in asset management. And it's like wait, how do we not think they can write an email? But we're like, oh yeah, just go do it, you know how to do that, right? And so I think with training it was something that actually, you know, I kind of had that assumption too that people innately knew certain things about how to mentor other people. But from the questions that we would get from, the thoughts that I had as I was trying to research and get advice I was like, wait, this is something that seems to be an unspoken need and we took a deeper look at what we could be doing to help train. So, I would say we started doing that and there was a lot more that we learned that we could be doing. And I think again it depends on the programs that you're offering. So, our programs around inclusion and diversity, we wanted to make sure that we were creating psychologically safe spaces for our participants. We wanted to make sure like it's different, you might naturally know how to mentor someone who has the same background as you, who looks like you, who's in the same department. But, do you know how to mentor someone when you have no idea what their lived experience is and when they are facing institutional barriers that you've never come up against. And so with that we started delving more into how can we prepare people to do this. And I think we extrapolated out a lot of learning’s that everyone could end up taking away. So, my long answer is definitely think about how you're preparing people because it's not just this natural skill that we're born with. And I guess consider how effective you want your program to be. So, research from the art of mentoring showed that in pairs of mentors and mentees with no training were 33 percent successful or 33 percent of them reported being so successful, with Mentor training that went up to 66 percent and then with mentor and mentee training - 90 percent of their peers said that they were successful. So, I mean, if you want 90 percent success rate or 33 percent, it seems like training would be a good thing to start investing in for mentoring. 

Ryan: 100 percent. Those are strong stats to argue against. Amazing! Let's switch gears a bit to talk about matching mentors and mentees. I know that's probably the biggest part of any mentoring program and it's probably the thing that causes the most amount of stress for first-time mentorship program managers. So can you both of you unpack how you go about matching mentors and mentees? 

Jodi Petersen: Yeah. I'll start. When we didn't have an enterprise-wide program, matching was done manually and it was done in a variety of different ways. So, every group who was running mentoring off the side of their desk, they did it different ways, anywhere from like Excel spreadsheets with pretty strict criteria to index cards on a conference room table. Like, we saw it all, one group even, which I kind of like this idea, they would host a speed networking event that allowed the mentees and the mentees to kind of spend a couple minutes together to see if they had a vibe and then they could, the mentees would say, you know, hey, I want these top three people to be my selection and then they would use that information then to make the matches manually. So, all those things are good. I think if you are doing an enterprise-wide program at scale, you definitely need to consider software. I think that software will help you not only with some of the administrative work but it will help bring people to the program. Some of those scaled programs are really to provide that equity of access to mentorship for everyone in the company. In order to do that people have to have a place to go to sign up to match to even then to engage with the program and have that whole learning process, so that's something that we, when we did our enterprise program we knew that from the start. There are some instances that I would say when the matching component may be more than kind of configurations in a software, then you want that to handle. And that would be in programs where they're small, really specialized programs. So, for instance, there's some specific succession planning programs where you may want to have a lot of leadership discussions about who you pair together and the length of time that you pair them for. That maybe wouldn't be conducive to matching algorithms in a software, at least not at first. Now, if over time you can figure out what conversations you're having to do the matching and can put them into a software over time. I think that's really great. But even so when you're doing, if you are matching things manually in terms of software, there's still a lot of benefit to having software. You can use some of the automation features; you can use some of the gamification if that's built in. Really that adoption, the more time they spend in a platform thinking about more, you know, mentoring, the more likely they are to engage and to keep engaging with the program. So, I would say that that because matching it, poor matching is one of the top reasons that that mentorship programs fail that you want to really put a lot of time and thought into not only how you're doing that but what method you're using to do that. 

Ryan: Amazing. You mentioned at the end, there poor matching can be like the vein of any mentorship program manager's existence. I guess. It's as unlikely as it may be to happen. Sometimes like a mismatch does happen. So what advice do you give to a, like a first-time mentorship program manager who has to deal with or runs into an issue where there is a mentor mismatch. 

Mary Schlegel: First things first, if you can prevent it, try that as much as possible. And what I mean by that is, the first time we launched a program, we weren't explicit about the fact that this program was based on matching for skills. And it was really focused on skill development. So, everybody came in with slightly different ideas about what they were going to get out of it. Some people came in and thought I just want someone from my department doing this. Or I just want someone who's one level up than me so that I can work on my career advancement. So, in your communications set that expectation with mentors and mentees about how you're going to match and why you're going to match them that way. And that will save you a lot of headaches. Then after that I would say use curious empathy. So, if somebody reaches out to you saying I think we were mismatched, empathize with that, you know, they did join because they're so excited and you don't want them to lose that excitement. But dig in a little bit more, why do they think they were mismatched? Was it because they may not have understood that the expectations for the program or was it something else that's a hidden need. Is it something you didn't consider? Be empathetic to whatever that is, use your customer service skills, but also be a little curious because sometimes you might just need to redirect them towards the goals of the program. And maybe there's another program or another development option they're looking for. Or they'll realize, oh, hey, thank you, I didn't realize that. I will, I can focus on this during my time with my mentor. And then lastly, if appropriate, look at other options. So, depending on what we would see, sometimes in our programs we allowed people to go back in and to look at the remaining available mentors and mentees. And see if there was a good fit. We also would look for those on our own if we could. If we had the time we would look back and see if we could find someone who was a better fit for them. And we also always focused on giving them the power to find their own mentor or mentee. And so we would share out, you know, here's how you can look at your network and engage your network to identify who could be a good mentor. And then here are email templates on how to reach out to that person and engage them to find a good mentor. So, just trying to give them possibilities to stay engaged and keeps developing. We found that that worked really well. And over time we were able to reduce the number of mismatches we had by again just reinforcing that those expectations ahead of time. 

Ryan: Amazing! Those are really helpful tips. Alright, so just to catch us up here, we've talked about a lot of things. We talked about how to get buy-in for your mentorship program. We talked about how to promote your program and get mentors and mentees excited to join. We've talked about how to match them, how to handle mismatches. Once it's all done, everyone's been matched, the program's running. Can mentorship program managers put their feet up and wait until the end where they can report on the success and sit in the glory of that? Or is there anything they should be doing between getting everybody matched and culminating the program. 

Jodi Petersen: Total Pina Coladas dude, just sit back on the beach and let it all play out. No, totally not, not at all. Mary, do you want to talk about some of your experience? 

Mary Schlegel: Sure. Yeah. I wish you could just set it and forget it, there's part of me that definitely wishes, you could like set that button, they're matched and then you're like, oh, I can move on to other things but that is not the case. And it actually is kind of exciting because you realize, I think, just how much of an impact the program can have and how much of an impact you can have as a program manager. There are a number of things that you can do to support your mentors and mentees as they move forward. So, as Jodi said, you know, what's that engagement look like. It's great that people come to the program, but if everybody joins matches up and then never talks to each other, again you're not going to get what you wanted out of it. So, we did a number of things from having, Jodi was sharing that she had weekly office hours, so that mentors and mentees could come and get advice on how to keep moving forward. We made sure that we had, you know, frequently asked questions because starting up there were so many questions. We had training, resources, we provided opportunities for kind of community engagement and learning from one another and certain programs that we had. You're also going to want to be continually tracking on how the program is doing, getting measurement, maybe doing pulse surveys, trying to understand what's working and what's not and how to tweak those. You're going to need to keep your stakeholders and your sponsors updated. You're also going to be managing, you know, issues or changes as they come. There might be new programs. You might be going through a pandemic and need to shift your strategy around. There are so many different things that are happening in so many ways that you're going to want to monitor the health and then improve upon what you have. And I know this can all sound incredibly overwhelming. If you were thinking you could set it and forget it. So, apologies anyone out there who might feel a little bit overwhelmed right now. And we always hear from program managers that it is more than I think they initially really think it will be. And I think part of that is because organizations still put the mentoring management role like nest it under another role. So, you're not just managing programs, you're managing programs and you're developing learning’s and your XYZ. And once you dig in you realize okay, I need to be a marketing manager. I need to be a recruiter. I need to learn change management. I need to be a copywriter, an instructional designer, all of these things that you did not realize you're going to have to take on. And so for such an amazing role, it's also pretty high pressure and that's why Jodi and I were so passionate about working together on MentorStrat and working together on supporting program managers and helping them navigate this and giving them, you know, some preset tools so that they didn't have to make up all of these engagement opportunities and how do I measure this and start from scratch but that they could really focus on those initiatives that would increase their ROI and then scale their programs to be as effective as possible. 

Ryan: Amazing, so many helpful tips. I think one thing I'd love to ask that has come up with some of our customers is, instead of just having a mentor and a mentee matched and then you send them on their way and then you check in with them, following some of the tips you shared there. There has been question that we've had to field about having like groups of mentors and mentees that come together for check-ins or like mixers or something like that. Is there a place for having like a double date per se between two different or multiple mentorship pairs. 

Jodi Petersen: Okay. I've never thought about it like a double date before. But I think that's a really interesting concept if, and I think if that that works for you and you're working on common goals, absolutely. A couple things that I can share from my past experience, I think it's really important to build mentor and mentee communities. They should have a place to go to have a sounding board, ask questions of each other, first-time mentors can ask questions of more seasoned mentors if something comes up. Like, mentors can't be expected to be an expert in everything. And so having that community whether it is a weekly, you know, or a monthly check-in in some meeting format or just, I know some people have like an internal yammer where they could post messages back to each other. I think that's really important. Same thing for the mentees, mentees especially in like one-on-one, your traditional relationships are really the drivers of the relationship and that is a different hierarchy dynamic than they are used to and that can be intimidating for people. So being able to connect with other mentees in build a community I think is important. Within your relationships, a couple things that we have considered, definitely want to think more about the double date, but we encourage mentors to invite other experts into meetings. Like, I said you can't know everything, if there's a topic that you feel like is important for your mentee to come to learn about and you don't have the expertise like personal branding or resume skills, right? Bring someone in who knows about that and can help you through that portion of your mentoring relationship. That will also help give knowing that that strategy is out there will also help mentors know or be more comfortable. They don't have to know everything. They can still sign up. They can leverage people within their networks as appropriate. So, I think that's something that people don't do often enough. And we could be more effective and even better together if we took that approach. 

Ryan: Amazing! Fantastic! I think there are so many tips here to unpack. I think it'll be a great thing to re-listen to for the audience here. As we kind of conclude this conversation, I'd love to ask a question that's on a lot of our mentorship program manager’s minds and that's about reporting. They've gotten buy-in, they've run the program, and they’re seeing some anecdotal success just from talking to mentorship pairs. How do they go about reporting on the success? What metrics matter? And how do they prove the leadership that this program is worth it? 

Jodi Petersen: Yeah. So, again, it depends on what your program is intent is designed to do. So, if your program is designed to improve retention or engagement in your organization, you want to not only collect survey data about the communicated success of the relationships. Did the pairs meet their goals? Did they enjoy the relationship? Did they find it successful? But you want to be able to show your organization, if I said, it's going to impact retention, it impacted retention in a way that's more meaningful or more significant than the rest of the population. And so mentoring program managers are inherently not data people, right? And so you want to connect with people in your organization who have those skill sets. If you have human capital analytics department or other data analysts that take care of HR analytics, you want to partner with them. Those people are also going to know all of the things about your employee population that may be variables in your analysis. So, for example, some companies know that people who come to mentoring are already more engaged than people who don't. And so you can't use, consider that lift for, you know, the lift of your program, you need to baseline where they're at when they come in and then show any improvements other than the rest of the population. And so I think a lot of… analytics are hard for a lot of companies. And I think that, especially mentoring program managers get stuck on that survey, reporting the survey results. And yes, that's good. But if we can step beyond the survey and we can show the true impacts for our organization, that's where the real ROI measurement comes in, the real meat of the whole mentoring program comes in. And so really take that next step and start working with the people internally that no data. 

Ryan: Amazing. Mary, is there anything you want to add to that in terms of the kinds of things that people should be sending up the chain to leadership when they're reporting on their program? 

Mary Schlegel: Yeah. I think, Jodi said it really well. You know, going back to what was the intent program, what did we tell leaders it was going to do, what do leaders care about because I think, again as a talent management professional I care about did people think that they got something out of it, you know, those satisfaction surveys, they can help with identifying how I can improve the program. But if I'm not looking at the bigger picture then its like, hey, yeah, people did find the program helpful, they said they learned these skills but if I can't show to leaders why it hit the bottom line, they're not really going to care too much about continuing to invest or continuing to improve upon the programs. Then, you know, I need their buy-in to do that. And so again, I think Jodi has a great idea of working with people who already have that data because sometimes I think in learning and development or any kind of programs, we rely on those surveys and it can get tedious for participants. But, if you have places where you're already doing engagement surveys and you're already, you know, you have the Performance Management ratings at the end of the year, you can use some of that data already to create those stories and compare the mentoring participants to non-participants in a way that is going to matter to leaders and is also going to matter a lot to the success of your program, so partnering with them on those things. And those are probably going to be the things that leaders care about more. So, just paying attention to what you want to report to your internal team, your program team and then what you want to report to leaders because those are probably going to be slightly different metrics. 

Ryan: Fantastic! This has been an incredible conversation. I think we're coming up on time here but I'd like to ask or I'd like to end this conversation with one last question from both of you. What advice would you have for someone who's coming to you and it's their first time running a mentorship program? They're really keen, they're enthusiastic, and they’re ready to hit the ground running. What would be some parting words of advice you'd give to them? 

Jodi Petersen: I would say make sure that the work that you're doing is aligned with your organization. That's a big thing, right? If it's not, you may have a successful first year but you're not going to get the continued investment in that. So, take the time to do that. That also kind of plays into measure what matters. So, design your program with that end in mind. And then build relationships, right? In mentoring we talk about building relationships all the time but as a mentoring program manager you have to have some credibility within your organization. So, if you're hired in new, it's incredibly important for you to get out in that organization and build relationships. Not only with leaders in your organization but also with your mentoring champions and with people who, you may want to recruit to the program, they need to see you as kind of an authority figure in what you're doing. And I think talking with other mentoring program managers is also really big in the reason that we started encourage and elevate group is because we realized that it can be very lonely. And you want to make sure that you're not only learning best practices from each other but that you can also have someone who you can reach out to when you're feeling stuck or lonely or overwhelmed. 

Ryan: Amazing. Mary, do you have any parting words of advice. 

Mary Schlegel: Yeah. I would build upon that last one. I think as Jodi said the relationships are so important. I know after going to some of the conferences and meeting other people who manage programs and like Jodi getting to talk to her and pick her brain about how do you take 74 programs and create one holistic strategy for them. It was just so immensely helpful to bounce ideas off of one another. And so partnering up whether it's with people in your organization or externally. Partner up with your inclusion diversity team if you have one. Partner up with your employee resource groups, with departments who might be interested and really focused on developing programs. You don't need to do this alone. And the more that you partner up with co-collaborators, co-conspirators, the more likely you are to succeed and build a really robust program. Also partner up with software because I know even programs where we just had 50 participants, trying to do it manually would have been a nightmare. So, I highly recommend that. Secondly, to set yourself and your participants up for success, and I think a lot of that does can come back to thinking about the resources you're giving them to be successful. So again, as the research has shown 33 percent success without training or 90 percent success. And I think that goes back to, it's not just because training yay, but we don't just magically know how to do these things. They are skills that we need to learn and so how can you as a program manager set yourself up for success and learn what you need and then how can you set your employees up for success. And that's part of why we're creating MentorStrat Academy and program manager certification so that people can get that information and don't have to just stare at Google and really hope that they find the right resource for them this time. And lastly, keep learning, keep iterating. You're not going to get everything right the first time. I don't know if anyone gets everything at all ever, so just focus on progress over perfection, take the things that might not go as well as opportunities to learn and be kind to yourself because you're here doing something that's amazing and you're making an impact and some days it'll just feel like you're pushing a sisyphysian rock up a mountain but you don't see how many people are down below who you're helping. So, make sure that you're gentle with yourself and that you take time to appreciate all that the program is doing, all that the participants are doing for one another. 

Ryan: Fantastic parting words of advice. Thank you both. This has been a great conversation. Thank you both for your time. This conversation will undoubtedly be super impactful for the first time mentorship program managers. Where can people go to learn more about you, your work and potentially connect? 

Jodi Petersen: Yeah, absolutely. So, our business really does two things. We help companies create or scale or redesign their mentorship programs. And then as Mary alluded to, we also have the Training Academy that is going to be launching in January, and including a quick follow of a program manager certification. So, we're excited about that. You can reach out to us on our website. It is mentorstrat.com, ‘m-e-n-t-o-r-s-t-r-a-t.com’. You can also find us on LinkedIn, MentorStrat as well. So, definitely reach out to us, even if it's just for a quick conversation and you want to bounce an idea off us or ask a question, we're here and ready to help. For us, our business is all about us, right? It's all about building relationships and it's all about helping people grow and learn and we're here and ready to do that. 

Ryan: Fantastic. Thank you both of you for your time. 

Jodi Petersen: Thank you. 

Mary Schlegel: Thanks, Ryan.