Mentoring programs provide numerous benefits to both employees and employers. Perhaps the most obvious is the impact they have on learning and development within the organization. For Extensis Group, a regional professional employer organization headquartered in the NYC area, establishing a growing career mentoring program has helped them to transfer knowledge across the organization, and share company insights across departments and teams in order to create a more unified and engaged workforce.
We sat down with Denise Furlani, Organizational Learning and Development Manager at Extensis, to discuss the origination of the program and the impact they’ve seen so far.
Q: Why did Extensis start a mentoring program?
The program here at Extensis was started after we received feedback from our employees during our annual employee engagement survey in 2016. The biggest request was for more professional and career development initiatives. To address the needs of our employees, we decided to establish an employee mentoring program aimed at achieving greater career growth and engagement within our company.
With any new program, one of our initial challenges was getting buy-in from senior management, as well as attracting enough mentors and mentees to enable the program to succeed. This was something completely new to the organization so we had to make sure we positioned it properly to ensure approval. Luckily, buy-in came quickly and easily from all levels of the organization.
Once we had approval for the mentoring program, we knew we would need the help of software to manage and sustain the program. We wanted to incorporate a qualified reporting tool without putting more work on our program admins, and knew software would help us achieve this.
We had to find the best company to partner with to ensure success. It didn’t take us long to find Chronus, one of the leaders in the mentoring space. We decided they would be the perfect partner.
Q: Why Chronus?
We started looking for a company to work and partner with for our mentoring program. We knew the decision would ultimately impact just how successful our program could be. We wanted a partner who truly understood these programs and how important they can be for an organization, especially a growing one like Extensis.
Once we found Chronus, it didn’t take us long to realize it was the partnership we needed to launch our program. Besides being one of the foremost leaders in employee mentoring programs, the software was something we felt would make participating in the program simple and easy for both mentors and mentees.
Together, they helped us implement our mentoring program and understand how to promote it to our prospective participants. Once we had a healthy pool of mentors and mentees, we were ready to launch.
Q: What benefits did mentors see?
Mentors are critical to the success of any mentorship program. Mentees lean on their mentors for guidance, knowledge, and leadership development. This is why it is so important for our program to enable mentors throughout the mentorship process. Mentors in our program truly had a rich and positive experience. This has led to greater interest in being a repeat mentor next year—one of our main goals for the program.
Here’s some direct feedback we received from mentors during our 2017 program:
- “I believe the program truly educates the Mentee on how to accept feedback in important areas, such as communication, technical abilities, change management, and leadership skills.”
- “My Mentee successfully achieved all goals and then some! As we continued to work together, we uncovered additional ways I could help my Mentee and was even able to share some of my experiences from past companies.”
- “In addition to setting Mentee goals, we also set small challenges which we revisited each meeting. It was rewarding to see her grow with each completed challenge. My Mentee took those small challenges to heart and made the effort to tackle them.”
In addition, our mentors have become ambassadors for the program, encouraging others to participate in our next cohort.
Q: What benefits did mentees see?
Just like our mentors, mentees were enthusiastic about the program and had a great time throughout the process. Being paired with a mentor who could share knowledge and experiences has helped mentees with learning and development goals within Extensis. Greater L&D opportunities is a really important goal for our company, and the feedback we received from mentees shows just how successful our mentoring program really was:
- “I feel that this mentorship program was a great experience. Not only did my Mentor provide support and guidance for my professional development, but she also took an interest in helping me achieve some of my personal endeavors.”
- “The mentoring relationship has definitely made me a better manager. I have been exposed to things to help me with my career that, without my mentoring connection, I may have never had the opportunity to learn.”
- “I believe the program is very valuable and effective! It gives guidance and clarity to Mentees and gives someone in a Mentor’s role a chance to give back.”
For our mentoring program, there were many benefits to a positive mentee experience. The first was the exchange of knowledge and personal development that took place throughout the program. We also saw better communication throughout our offices, between mentees and senior leaders.
In addition, much like our mentors, mentees have been encouraging their peers to participate in next year’s program. Increasing the number of participants is one of our goals, and having ambassadors on both sides of the program will help us achieve and even exceed our expectations!
Q: What surprised you about the program?
The best outcome so far has been that numerous mentees have expressed interest in one day becoming a mentor themselves. Not only is this great for the future of our mentorship program, but it is also critical to personal development.
Q: What has been the value and impact for Extensis and employees?
At Extensis, we have seen first-hand the value a well-executed mentoring program can provide (not to mention the benefits it can bring to recruiting efforts). Overall, our program has been an overwhelming success! We are extremely proud that 100% of mentors and 100% of mentees were either satisfied or very satisfied with our program. In addition, 79% of mentors said that they achieved all the goals they set for their relationship. Our entire organization is anxiously awaiting our 2018 program.
Watch this video to learn more about the impact of the Extensis Group Career Mentoring Program: