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Four ways to ensure the success of your mentoring programme
A mentor can be a huge source of inspiration, advice and knowledge at any stage of anyone’s career – but particularly in the early days with a new company and in more junior positions. For a business, it offers a great way to upskill junior employees and to integrate new personnel. It also gives the opportunity for senior people to share their knowledge and skills and can be highly rewarding for all involved.
Having a successful mentoring programme in place can help to improve staff communication, build a better high-performing work culture, and have a positive impact on staff retention efforts. What are the things you need to consider when implementing a new mentorship programme?
Choose the right people as mentors
The last thing you should be doing is pairing people at random based on seniority or job role alone. It is wrong to assume that senior people will make good mentors, nor that they would welcome the responsibility. Mentors should be willing and enthusiastic about sharing their experience. You should approach those you think will be appropriate to gauge interest as a first action.
Secondly, you need to pair them with the right mentees. Again you should find out about their professional interests and where they think they could benefit from a mentor. What parts of your business are they interested in and where do they feel they have knowledge gaps? With this information in hand, you should be well placed to make a good judgment about pairing two people together. A considered selection process is far more likely to bear fruit and improve relationships across the team.
Clearly define the role of the mentor
Now that you have decided who should mentor who, you need to clearly define what both parties should be looking to achieve as a result of this new partnership. Do you want this to be a skill sharing endeavour? Is it about career coaching? Is it a case of the more junior partner learning about your business? Any of these goals would be well served by a mentorship programme but you need to be clear about what the goal is.
The mentorship should take place independently of the normal work of each party. Also, the mentor should not be in a position to manage any of the mentee's workload. This relationship is more about assistance and advice, guidance and direction. Lastly, the mentorship should have an end date, agreed from the start, at which point both parties can part ways.
Allow the programme time and space
A mentorship programme isn’t an instant win, or a quick fix. It needs time to breathe and for the parties involved to develop an understanding and professional relationship. If the purpose is for a new employee to be bought up to speed on the business, or learn a number of systems, this will take time. Equally, if you are hoping to inspire a junior employee with exposure to someone senior in their field it will take time for that to bear fruit. Give your programme time and space and it will have a better chance of resulting in a positive outcome for all involved.
Seek feedback from those involved
One important way to ensure the success of the mentoring programme is to seek feedback from those involved. Is the relationship working? Are both parties satisfied they are getting the most out of it? What could management do to improve the efficacy of the programme? All these questions should help you to amend and improve the relationship and the programme as it progresses. This will also ensure that both mentor and mentee will get the most out of it throughout the duration of the partnership.
A mentoring programme can be a valuable tool for professionals at any stage of their career. It can also be a valuable tool for companies to ensure the continued development and work satisfaction of its employees. When run correctly there are few more powerful employee engagement strategies.
For more employer advice, take a look at the other articles in our employer centre.