Everyone appreciates a good mentoring program. Mentors and mentees love that their organization is sponsoring opportunities for growth, they love learning in person from others, and they love being able to connect to people with common experiences and goals.
But people are busy. Sometimes mentoring gets pushed off just for a bit, and then, at times, forgotten altogether. It’s not that your participants don’t want the program. They just might need a little push to get them started, and then a little help to keep them engaged.
To keep your program on track, here are our best low-effort, high-impact tips to improve your organization’s mentoring program engagement.
1. Use targeted emails.
With every mentoring program, you’ll have an initial rush of people who can’t wait to get started. That’s fantastic! These are the people who will become your program’s cheerleaders. You’ll want to send emails to congratulate them on their successes and remind them to evangelize your program.
However, sometimes there’s a second group of people who need a few additional reminders. This is where an email campaign can be useful. Use emails to remind them to sign up for the program or start seeking matches. For signing up, we recommend the following sequence:
- An email that lists all the benefits of the mentoring program
- A reminder email to sign up
- An email that profiles a successful mentoring pair and the benefits they’ve seen
Good mentoring software will enable you to set up these emails and automatically trigger them if, for example, you have a new mentee who enters your system and doesn’t send match requests within 14 days. If you don’t have mentoring software, you can still manually send out mass email blasts to participants. As with any email campaign, it’s important to make sure you don’t overwhelm them. We see the best success with one email per week.
2. Provide guided workflows with actionable steps and milestones.
We know that life gets busy. Because of that, it’s important to retain momentum. We’ve found that mentoring program participants receive significant value out of the program if they have a guided process to follow.
By setting up workflows with specific steps such as “Don’t forget to reach out to your mentor/mentee this week”, you’ll remind participants to accomplish their goals. We also recommend specifying a time limit for those relationships so you can pace the goals to a productive conclusion. That limited amount of time also provides participants with a deadline so they’ll want to get moving faster.
For the best results, put a little time into setting up these mentoring workflows before launching your program.
3. Gather feedback from participants via surveys and focus groups
As with any program, once you launch you’ll discover improvements you can make along the way. Participant feedback helps with this process too. The best mentoring program software will make gathering participant feedback easy for you but even if you don’t have a built-in system, you can still launch external tools like SurveyMonkey. We recommend asking questions around:
- How successful the relationships were
- What participants liked/didn’t like
- Ideas for the future
Knowledge is power! Learn what’s working and not working and you’ll be able to fine tune your program to improve engagement.
4. Offer incentives to improve mentoring program engagement
Everyone loves recognition, so we suggest offering people incentives to track their progress throughout the mentoring program, to complete the feedback surveys we just mentioned in #3, or whenever they complete a mentoring engagement.
Here are some top incentives our customers have successfully used:
- Gift cards
- Award lunches
- Completion certificates
- Award logos for employee HR profiles
Be creative! Make it a fun exercise—it doesn’t need to be pricey.
5. Make it easy for participants to engage, anywhere, any time.
It’s important to make it as simple as possible for your mentors and mentees to participate in the mentoring program. Perhaps you have traveling salespeople or field technicians. Or maybe you’re running a student-alumni mentoring program with participants who are always on the go.
Ensuring that your program is mobile-friendly is something important to consider because it allows your participants to engage no matter where they are. A smart mobile mentoring app will encourage people to shop for a mentor, check off tasks, and see what’s next. With mobile mentoring, they can keep up whether they’re waiting to catch a flight or spending a few minutes in the company break room.
A mentoring program can be a powerful driver of success for any organization. Think of it – you can architect a dynamic program that helps people learn and grow, a program that improves careers and changes lives. Excellent participant engagement one of the most important keys to your program’s success.
Software can actually make most of the tips given here easier. If you’re interested in learning more about how Chronus can streamline your life with mentoring program software, contact us today.