10 New Year Resolutions for Your Mentoring Program
January 5th, 2015 by Rayanna MacElveen
Why not use the beginning of the new year and January’s National Mentoring Month as an opportunity to revitalize your mentoring program? Make a resolution (or two) to spruce up your program this year. We’ll help you out with this list of 10 possible ways to improve your program. Feel free to pick and choose!
1. Organize a focus group to get real time feedback on your program. This can be done in person or virtually.
Surveys are a great way to easily gather feedback, however sometimes getting people in a room can gather insight that a survey may not address. Letting people talk freely may bring up issues that you, as the admin, may not have thought to ask.
2. Find a successful mentoring pair and share their story to help with recruitment.
Success stories help communicate the benefits of mentoring and will give prospective mentors and mentees an idea of what they could get out of joining the program.
3. Hold a refresher training for mentors and mentees.
If you held a training at the inception of you program, well done! However, you job is not quite finished. Holding a training periodically can be highly beneficial to reinforce best practice and reinvigorate your members.
4. Check the administrative reports built into the software.
Find your weak spots and brainstorm ways to increase engagement. If you’re using software to manage your program, this can mean looking at engagement levels, activity, or even survey feedback. Look for things that you can take action on and make a plan to do so.
5. Switch things up.
Have you been hand matching all of your participants and finding low engagement? Perhaps try a self-match approach. Sometime allowing mentees and mentors control over their relationship can encourage better buy in of the program. If you have a self-match program and you find that your mentees slack or struggle to find mentors, try coming in with the assist and find a match for them.
6. Tap your strongest mentors to create video shorts with tips, success stories, and other inspirational anecdotes.
Stepping outside of the box with video can spark new life to your program by engaging a more visually stimulated audience.
7. Conduct “spot check-ins” to reach out to random mentees and mentors.
Ask how they are doing in the program and collect feedback on the program. Connecting directly with participants is a great way to build trust.
8. Start a participant referral program.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective kinds of marketing for your mentoring program. So encourage current participants to share their experience of the program with others and recruit new mentors and mentees. Make it fun and offer an incentive such as a coffee gift card, free lunch, whatever works!
9. Make time to run your program.
Running a mentoring program can straddle a fine line of babysitting and letting it run on its own. Rarely can you plant yourself on one side or the other. However, making sure to carve time out to adequately manage your program will help prevent you from having to plant yourself on the babysitting side in order to make sure the program doesn’t hit a major snag.
10. Plant seeds.
Are you finding that your community areas are a little sad? Try planting some seeds! Go into the forums and start a discussion. Add some interesting articles or videos to your articles section. Suggest a great topical book you’ve read recently. Community tools can really help provide some sparkle to your program, but you might need to give a nudge now and then.
…And finally: BONUS TIP! Plan a party!
What better month to throw a party than January – National Mentoring Month? While this may not work if you have a multi-location program, a party that brings together the mentors and mentees can be a fabulous networking tool for your program. Your participants will get the chance to not only spend time with their mentor in a relaxed situation, but also talk to other mentors and mentees. As a bonus, this will give the program administrators a chance to chat face to face with participants and gather a variety of perspectives.