Building a mentor program is more than just selecting great mentors and eager mentees. The key to building a great mentor program is understanding the problem you are trying to fix, correct or eliminate.
Before you even put your finger on the keyboard, you need to be very clear on what needs to change by implementing a program.
- For example, are you trying to retain top talent?
- Are you trying to build bench strength in your middle management level?
- Are you trying to provide a low cost benefit for qualified employees?
- Are you trying to attract more diversity to your workforce?
- Or something else?
Once you understand what needs to change, you can then go about the business of acquiring buy-in from the most senior levels of your organization. If they are not supporting your mentor program 100%, talking about it, highlighting it in meetings, participating themselves or providing the funding it will take to run your program then you are dead in the water and might as well not waste your time.
When you understand what needs to change and also have senior level buy-in, you are now ready to start crafting a world class program that is customized to your industry or location.
While there are many pieces to a successful, well-executed program, here are a few considerations for your plan.
Ten Tips to Maximize your Mentoring Program:
1. Create an application process and set specific qualifications for the program.
2. Focus on the mentee, and have them complete an application detailing their specific goals for themselves while in the program.
3. Pair mentors to mentees based on what the mentee wants to get from the program.
4. Create a specific overview for participants, complete with expectations and basic guidelines for engagement.
5. Determine a start date and an end date for the program, i.e. 90 days, 6 months, 1 year.
6. Create a feedback loop for accountability.
7. Measure the change. Report the change, include senior management in the communication.
8. Appoint a specific person to oversee and manage the program, preferably not in HR.
9. Celebrate the successes, congratulate the participants and create a culture to pay it forward.
10. Utilize an expert in creating these programs, it will allow you to launch quicker and more effectively to rapidly produce quantifiable results.
Your employees deserve a well-designed program that provides value they can’t otherwise get on the internet or in books. The priceless knowledge that is transferred from one person to another through conversation and experiential learning is invaluable and can only be capture through mentoring.