While mentoring program models can vary, there are some things all good programs need, regardless of the type. Below is our list.
What Every Workplace Mentoring Program Needs…
- Eager mentors and mentorees. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But the keyword is "eager." Mentoring should not feel like a punishment or a chore. You must make sure people understand mentoring's inherent value.
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- Someone to oversee the program. Ideally, you'd want to select a formal mentoring program manager (MPM) who manages the whole program, including recruitment, matching, and wrap-up. At the very least, you should have a main point person—someone whom mentors and mentorees can go to if there's a problem.
Even a self-directed program (e.g. where mentorees identify and approach mentors on their own, whether inside or outside the organization) should have someone who is aware of the mentorees participating in the program.
- Training for mentors and mentorees. If you have a formal program, you'll likely build training into the onboarding process, but even informal programs, self-directed programs, and group programs should provide mentors and mentorees with resources on how to get the most out of their relationships.
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- A way to evaluate success. What's the point of having a mentoring program if you can't glean any insights on its effectiveness? While a formal, managed program usually has built-in ways to measure progress, even informal programs should provide a way for participants to offer feedback. It could be something as simple as the mentoree's direct manager soliciting feedback and/or the "point" person we mentioned above meeting with mentors and mentorees after the relationship is over to see how it went.
However you opt to evaluate a program's success, someone needs to keep track of the results. And if any underlying issues are revealed during casual post-mortem conversations, someone needs to act on them. This is critical for future success.
- A supportive overall environment. If you want your people to reap the many benefits mentoring has to offer, you need to allow program participants time to meet and invest themselves in the relationship. In other words, don't say you support a mentoring environment, but then penalize people for taking time out of their workday to participate.
Can you think of any other things that all good workplace mentoring programs must have? Share your ideas in the comments.