Congrats! You've made the decision to implement e-mentoring software at your company. What do you need to know before researching vendors?
1. Learn all you can about mentoring.Make sure you understand the basic tenets of mentoring, including what the mentoring relationship involves. Some things to keep in mind…
- Mentoring is a formal or informal developmental partnership where mentorees receive information, advice, and guidance from an experienced professional (i.e. the mentor).
- Mentoring includes sharing perspectives/ideas, transferring knowledge, and providing advice to the mentoree. Mentoring is not Be sure to understand the difference. (Download our free white paper on mentoring vs. coaching to learn more.)
- The mentor is never a manager to the mentoree. Instead, the mentor is someone with whom the mentoree can communicate openly and honestly without worrying about being judged.
Want more insight? Download Mentoring: A Business Strategy That Works.
2. Develop mentoring objectives.
Every company is unique, as are their mentoring needs. Some questions to consider while compiling your program goals:
- How can mentoring make your company and employees more successful?
- What goals are you looking to accomplish in the short term/long term?
- What skills and qualities are you looking for in a mentor? In a mentoree?
- Is your company facing any challenges where mentoring will play a key part of the solution? For example, do you want to enable employee career development, leadership development, diversity mentoring, and/or knowledge transfer? Or are you experiencing tough HR challenges like increasing employee retention (mentoring millennials), enabling company succession plans, or improving workforce development?
3. Create a list of vendor questions. Here are some to get you started:
- What is your mentoring expertise? How long have you been in the mentoring business? Are you a mentoring specialist or do you have your hand in other areas? Keep in mind that it's best to work with a mentoring expert, meaning someone who is solely focused on understanding mentoring and implementing mentoring programs.
- How long has your software been around? How adaptable is the system to your mentoring needs? Is it customizable? Is there an additional cost to make modifications to meet your needs?
- How effective is your matching component? Since matching is a critical piece of a successful mentoring program, feel free to ask about success rates.
- How long does it take to deploy the software? The software implementation process should not take a long time or include heavy IT involvement. Remember, it's best when the software resides on the vendor's servers for security purposes, as well as lowering the cost and time of implementation.
4. Invest in training for both the mentor and mentoree.
A common misconception is that companies train only the mentoree, not the mentor. For a successful mentoring relationship, both parties must understand:
- The mentoring dynamics in the relationship
- What professional mentoring is and is not
- Stages of the mentoring relationship
- Boundaries between the mentoree's manager/mentoree/mentor
- Guidelines for a successful relationship
You can get started with mentor/mentoree training even before you finalize the e-mentoring software or officially launch the program. In fact, the right training will not only educate future mentors and mentorees, but also get them excited to start. Learn more about our affordable online training here.
For those of you who've invested in e-mentoring software, can you think of any other things people should consider before researching and talking to vendors? Share in the comments!