Have you ever been tasked with creating and managing a mentoring program, or have to find the right person to be an administrator? If you’re currently experiencing anxiety when it comes to starting a mentoring program, allow us to offer a comfortable shoulder for you to lean on. We’re here to present you with five ways to ensure a smooth transition into fulfilling your new mentoring program administrator role.
1. Know Your Purpose
Every successful mentoring program has to have an endgame, a goal, a reason for being. If you as the mentoring program administrator fails to establish these goals from day one, you may doom your program to failure. Building a stable mentoring program starts off with a clear purpose, and being able to effectively carry out that purpose from the very onset of the program to its conclusion. If account executives are using your program to develop skills, make sure their sales training program provides available resources and guidance to help them succeed in the field. Once you have established these goals and what you hope to accomplish, your culture of mentoring will start to appear within your organization.
2. Know Your Audience
It’s common for a mentoring program administrator to be aware of their short-term audience or pilot group, but visibility into the future of the program is very hazy. In order to cater to both the present and future audience, you need to take into account audience growth. To have a truly scalable program, try to identify all of the potential participants and work towards designing the program for everyone. Another side of audience awareness is to get to know your participants and their goals. If you don’t know that, how will you find them appropriate mentors? That doesn’t just mean finding mentors that know what you want your mentees to know, but also finding mentors that understand you, are good listeners, and have dynamic leadership skills. You don’t want your mentoring pairings to fall flat. Put some thought into who this is for and what will help them succeed.
3. Know Program Differences
Leading a successful mentoring program requires the administrator to be open-minded and flexible with the changing needs of the user base. The needs of one department may differ entirely from the needs of another department. You want to design a program that scales well for all sorts of users, and that typically does not mean you can shoehorn everyone into one process. A program that is highly structured and based on a shorter timeline may work well for managing new hires, while training for management development may utilize a longer timeline and a more varied engagement level. Knowing the differences between programs and department needs can also help promote overall mentoring program effectiveness and change overtime.
4. Know Communication
No getting around it, if you want your program to succeed, at some point you are going to have to talk to your membership. By talking, I mean training… all of your users and if you want to make the most impact, you’ll need to do this multiple times. To get your end users to really absorb information, you should have training at the beginning of the program and reinforce that training throughout with additional trainings and best practice tune-ups. Communication keeps things going and allows everyone to stay on the same page. A lack of communication can potentially harm the overall productivity and engagement level of your mentoring program. Make sure to train your users through the power of speech, and don’t be afraid to be redundant. Repetitiveness can drive home key elements of the program in order to make the most lasting impression on your participants. Many mentees have never been part of a formal mentoring program and have no idea how to behave. Spread the love. Train everyone on the best practices to be successful in your program.
5. Know Responsibility
Mentoring programs are not like crock pots – where you “fix it and forget it.” A well-planned program with defined goals, audience awareness, and strategic training should run fairly well with little hovering. However, that doesn’t mean that you can walk away from it. A mentoring program is a living organism that needs nourishment to survive. You will need to go back and measure the success of your program and adjust the dials where needed according to the needs of your users and/or your organization. Consider implementing program metrics or encourage participant feedback (surveys, testimonials) to target areas of improvement. Try organizing periodic focus groups to identify what is working well and what is not. These can be extremely useful in the form of a reality check. You can collect feedback and cycle it right back into improving the mentoring program. All these efforts will help your program come full circle, while maintaining its forward momentum.
Being an administrator for a mentoring program is a rewarding experience. Running an efficient program not only makes you feel good about taking part in building a great organizational environment, but can also help your company objectives and engagement to flourish. We’ve provided you with five things you need to know in order to become a superstar mentoring program administrator, but the hard work is ultimately up to you. Our greatest advice for you at the end of the day is to do your homework, plan strategically, be engaged, and most importantly – have fun doing it.