[Case Study] How Amazon Improves Employee Advancement with Mentorship Read Now!
Mentoring allows people to learn from one another, providing a path to knowledge transfer. In the workplace, for instance, someone established in their career can share knowledge and insights, as well as offer guidance, to someone with less experience. In academic institutions, students can explore education and career possibilities with a mentor, while a recent graduate can get insight into how to chart a career path and connections for future employment. Mentoring at its core is the opportunity for people to learn from one another. It enables knowledge transfer between two or more people for the benefit of all.
There’s a wide range of things a mentor can offer a mentee. Mentors can listen, share advice, ask thought-provoking questions, and more, including:
The mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street. Mentees can provide feedback and new perspectives to mentors, while helping them work on their leadership skills and growth. As with mentors, a mentee’s role will vary, but some core actions on the part of a mentee include:
A formal mentoring program is a structured, often one-to-one relationship in a work, organization or academic setting. Mentoring allows people to learn from one another, providing a path to skill and knowledge transfer. Impactful mentoring programs train mentors and mentees to have productive conversations and meetings, providing them with career development tools and resources to accomplish set mentorship goals.
Starting a mentoring program requires:
When done right, a mentoring program in a professional setting is an enjoyable, rewarding experience for organizations and their people.
A well-planned, thoughtful mentoring program will encourage people to connect with others on a personal level. This helps build strong, trusting relationships that motivate and guide toward future goals. The benefits of mentoring extend to mentors, mentees and their organizations and include:
By setting up checkpoints and structure, a formal mentorship program allows mentors and mentees to have a relationship that’s productive and beneficial to all involved. The structure and accountability provided in formal programs—such as defined goals, mentor/mentee training, and an established platform of communication—elevate the connection beyond the confines of informal mentoring. Plus, with a formal program in place, more mentorship relationships can flourish, particularly with people (employees and students) who are traditionally underserved by mentoring of an informal nature.
The direct business benefits of mentoring are compelling, but let’s take a moment to pivot to how mentoring programs affect the way job candidates perceive a company that offers mentoring programs. This point is often underemphasized, but is worth mentioning, especially if your company employs or recruits millennials.
When job searching, candidates are putting themselves first – and rightly so. They want what’s in their best interest and they want to find the right fit. They want to learn and they want to grow. They want to be happy at their jobs.
Professional growth and career development
is the number one driver of successful engagement and retention among millennial employees
23% of employees leave a company
because of a lack of career development and training
Offering mentoring programs helps to set your company apart from those who don’t. Some companies can talk the talk when it comes to having a growth mindset, but that point is lost if you don’t back it up. Formal company mentoring programs reinforce your company’s learning culture. What’s a job candidate’s thought process like when evaluating a company?
By offering employees mentoring programs, you’re showing tangible proof that your company invests the time, money and effort into something that directly benefits employees long-term.
The Mental Health Foundation recommends mentoring as an effective way to support mental health at work. Mentorship can be an important tool for employee wellbeing in the following ways:
The need for connection doesn’t stop when people walk through the door at work or sit down in their home office. With mentoring, organizations can focus on mental health and build support for employees, personally and professionally.
When it comes to inclusion and career advancement, underrepresented employees can face challenges in the workplace. Mentoring can enable the following:
Mentoring can help cultivate an inclusive workplace that allows employees to bring their complete selves to work, whether this be physically or remotely.
Offering formal career development is a tangible way to show employees that their career trajectory matters. Career mentoring is by far the most common mentoring program we see in the workplace. This traditional one-to-one mentoring relationship can last nine to 12 months. Employees get the opportunity to learn and build skills, which can help grow their careers, keeping them from feeling stagnant in their roles.
This format pairs a more senior employee with a more junior employee. Companies can implement reverse mentoring in a one-to-one or group setting. The younger employee serves as the mentor, providing senior members of the organization with up-to-date information on the latest frontline experiences, technical skills, and workplace culture.
A mentoring circle is a peer-to-peer format that enables employees to find peers who share common interests or learning objectives, and develop together as a group. People from across departments and generations can learn from one another, expanding institutional knowledge. Employees can also build cross-functional relationships with people of similar or diverse backgrounds. Organizations can utilize mentoring circles for employee resource groups (ERGs) as a way to foster belonging. Employees of similar backgrounds can find a psychologically safe space for discussion, solidarity and support, where people can feel free to self-identify and be their authentic selves.
Want to learn how to develop a mentoring program? That’s great. Mentoring is a proven approach to drive rich learning and career development for both mentees and mentors. Mentoring also benefits the organization.
For employers, mentoring increases talent retention, promotion rates, and employee satisfaction for mentors and mentees.
University mentoring is proven to improve student retention, boost job placement rates, and increase alumni engagement when tapping alumni as mentors.
Starting a mentoring program is within your reach. But great mentoring programs don’t just happen. They are built through thoughtful planning and sustained commitment to guiding participants through the mentoring process while continually improving the program.
Deciding to implement a mentoring program is a great strategy for improving employee metrics like retention. HR.com’s 2021 State of Coaching and Mentoring Report found:
Meanwhile, a CNBC/SurveyMonkey found 9 out of 10 workers with a mentor said they were satisfied with their jobs; more than half rated themselves “very satisfied.”
As with any major project, proper planning is crucial to achieving your strategic mentorship goals. Mentoring programs can be highly impactful, but there are many factors that are critical to the success of your program. We’ve distilled our guidance into a mentorship program outline video highlighting the five key strategies for building a mentorship program template.
The starting point for any mentoring program template begins with two important questions:
To answer these questions you will need to dive deep to understand your target audience. Make sure you understand who they are, where they are, their development needs, and their key motivations to participate. Translate your vision into SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Some of the perks of creating mentoring objectives include:
Successful mentorship programs offer both structure and flexibility. Structure provides participants a mentoring workflow to follow. This is critical to helping participants achieve productive learning that reaches defined mentorship goals. Similarly, flexibility is essential to support varying individual mentoring needs across specific learning goals, preferences, and learning style.
Key mentoring program design decisions include:
A good idea is to create a program workflow diagram to explain each step of your mentoring program. You can provide details such as key actions, timeframes, support resources, and criteria for moving to the next phase. Mark areas that will require some flexibility to support user needs.
Mentoring software allows you to deliver a wide-variety of mentoring programs. Regardless of program size, easy-to-use mentoring software can help get your mentorship program started and running smoothly.
Learn how software walks you through mentoring program design
The best designed mentoring programs won’t get far without effective program promotion, mentor recruitment, and mentoring training.
When formal mentorship programs are introduced in organizations, there is generally natural enthusiasm. Yet this enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into high participation rates. A common reason is poor promotion of mentoring programs. Don’t assume potential mentors and mentees understand the benefits. For many, this will be their first opportunity to participate in mentoring. You will need to:
Building a solid base of mentors can be a challenge, so consider the needs of the mentors:
Lastly, productive mentoring doesn’t just happen. Provide mentorship training to mentors and mentees regarding:
The need for mentoring training and guidance doesn’t end after the initial orientation. Provide tips and best practices throughout the mentoring program to help participants stay on track and get the most out of the program.
Chronus mentoring software provides best practices, content, templates and workflows to recruit, enroll and train program participants.
A productive mentoring relationship depends on a good match.
Properly matching mentors and mentees is often one of the most challenging aspects of a program. Participants will bring various competencies, backgrounds, learning styles and needs. A great match for one person may be a bad match for another.
Matching starts by deciding which type of matching you’ll offer in your program: self-matching or admin-matching. Consider allowing mentees to select a particular mentor or submit their top three choices. Self-matching is administrative light, which in larger programs can be a huge plus.
For more structured programs, such as large groups of new students or new corporate employees, you may want to get the program started by bulk, or admin matching. Utilizing software that pairs mentors and mentees can also be valuable. Evaluating various match combinations before finalizing as ensuring quality mentors for hard-to-match mentees can be challenging.
Three steps to successful mentor matching:
Matching best practices start with a solid profile for all participants (mentors and mentees). Critical profile elements include:
Think about how you’ll want to match people, or if you’ll want them to match themselves. For example, you may want to match female leaders with younger female employees, or experienced sales personnel with new recruits. For self-matching, perhaps participants might like to connect with someone from the same previous employer, or the same college. The more you know about your participants, the better chance your program will have a positive outcome.
Regardless of self or admin matching, see how the Chronus platform makes matching faster and easier with strong, intelligent matching capabilities.
Now that your participants are enrolled, trained, and matched, the real action begins.
It is also where mentoring can get stuck. Left to themselves, many mentorships will take off and thrive. But some may not. Why? Because mentoring is not typically part of one’s daily routine. Without direction and a plan, the mentoring relationship is vulnerable to losing focus and momentum. That is why providing some structure and guidance throughout the mentorship is vital to successful mentoring programs.
One best practice in successful mentoring programs is to ensure all mentorships have goals and action plans. This serves two purposes:
Provide all mentoring relationships with timely and relevant “help resources” (topical content, mentoring best practices, etc.) throughout the mentorship. Bite-sized content delivered at key points is ideal.
As a mentoring connection progresses, establish checkpoints where mentorships report on their progress. Lastly, have a formal process that brings closure to the mentoring experience. This process should account for:
Chronus mentoring software makes guiding or facilitating your program’s connections easy, enabling your participants to be highly productive.
Understanding how your program measures up to expectations may well be the most important phase of all.
Starting a mentorship program is a significant investment when you consider program management, infrastructure, and the valuable time of participants. Articulating the impact is essential to secure ongoing funding and support. In addition, the measure phase is also focused on assessing program health to identify trouble spots and opportunities.
Successful mentorship programs should be tracked, measured, and assessed at three altitudes:
To be effective you need the ability to capture metrics and feedback throughout the program lifecycle.
At the program level, build metrics around defined business objectives. For example, in a DEI mentorship programs you may want to compare promotion rates of program participants to non-participants. Also track “funnel” conversion metrics, which show the progress participants make at each step of the mentoring program starting at enrollment. Conversion metrics provide essential insight into program health.
For mentoring connections, you want to understand mentorship behavior to identify roadblocks and opportunities. Common questions you will want to ask are:
For participants, you want to understand the impact of mentoring in terms of outcomes while acquiring program feedback. One of the easiest ways to capture outcome and feedback is through surveys. Ask participants and stakeholders how well the mentoring program met its goals and the goals of the organization. Also ask them for their ideas for improving the program.
You’ll also want to be sure you’re benchmarking your mentoring program in the areas of enrollment, matching and engagement — so you’ll understand if the performance you’re seeing is good, bad or average in comparison to other mentorship programs. Not sure how to establish benchmarks? Check out our Mentoring Benchmarks Report: Quit Navigating in the Dark.
Formal mentorship is an impactful strategy to develop, engage and retain your people. But running impactful mentoring program goes way beyond just matching people up. For true impact on your organization, it takes effort, resources, and know-how. Following our mentor program guidelines laid out in this five step process will put you on the right path to achieve your organization’s learning and mentorship goals.
Software can drive 50% Increased Engagement. Learn how Chronus can impact your mentorship program.