How to Set Up a Mentoring Program in the Workplace

Does your organisation need a Mentoring Program?

With the Australian unemployment rate at an all-time low, and there now being a shortage of talent, especially when it comes to finding enough qualified candidates to fill leadership roles. To recruit the best and brightest, many CEO’s are seeking to change their company’s culture to one that supports greater learning and development at every stage of an employees career.

Creating a Mentoring Program will help you to increase your pool of leadership prospects and help existing leaders to acquire the skills and experience that they need to assume greater leadership roles.

Benefits of Mentoring Programs

In addition to helping you recruit and retain great leaders for the future, mentorship has a number of other benefits.  Organisations with Mentorship Programs usually see an increase in employee satisfaction and morale, and a reduction in turnover rates.  Leaders that complete a Mentorship Program also see greater rates of recognition and promotion, and report greater levels of confidence and self-esteem. The experienced, senior leaders that serve as mentors also benefit from new insights that they gain as a result of their greater level of direct engagement with their protégé.

Creating a Mentoring Program within Your Organisation

The following steps will help you set up a mentoring program in your own organisation.

Decide on Scope and Form

The first step in encouraging mentorship within your organisation is to decide the scope and form that the program will take.  You should take into account the needs of your organisation when designing the program.

When using mentorship for leadership development, it is normally best to design a program that has specific responsibilities of both mentor and mentee, a formal structure, as well as a regular time commitment for meetings.

As the relationship develops between the mentor and mentee over time, they may wish to work together to modify terms of the program, such as where and when meetings occur. In the beginning the formal structure would be provided in order to allow both parties to benefit from the experience.

Your goals and objectives for the Mentoring Program should also be set at this time. What do you want to achieve with your program, and what steps will mentors and mentees take to reach these goals? It’s also a good idea to create some benchmarks so that you can measure the progress of your program over time.

Identify and Train Mentors

Mentorship should always be voluntary, for both the mentor and the mentee. Mentors should ideally be found from among your most experienced, and senior leaders. They should have a passion for your organisation, and its mission and goals, as well as have a firm grasp of your company’s culture.

Since the mentor provides much of their assistance to the mentee through conversations and dialogue, you should choose mentors that can be open and flexible to new ideas and other points of view. After all, they are there to support and guide the mentee, not to dictate or micro-manage.

One of the greatest ways that mentors can benefit their mentee is by helping them to define their passions, develop their personal leadership style and set goals, so focus on finding mentors that have a past history of being able to bond with others as well as motivate and inspire them.

In addition to high performance, mentors should have a high degree of personal integrity, and be trustworthy and confident. They should have a genuine desire to help others and be willing to introduce the mentee to their network of contacts.

Don’t assume mentors actually know how to mentor! Your leaders will be better mentors if they have training. So, your mentors will benefit if they have been mentored themselves before they are paired with a mentee. Let your mentors know upfront about the role that they will play, and what the boundaries will be for their.  Be certain that mentors know that their goals include modelling leadership skills, as well as providing advice, coaching and acting as a trusted confidant and sounding board for their mentee.

Mentors should know that while it’s a good idea to document their meetings with their mentee, including a simple list of the topics that they cover and discuss, that the content of their conversations should remain confidential in order to build mutual respect and trust.

Identify Potential Mentees and Seek Recruits

Mentoring Programs are normally very empowering experiences. Ideally, every employee and associate within your organisation would have the opportunity to take advantage of this experience. In reality, most organisations experience intense competition for scarce resources, including development.

For this reason, being your search for potential mentees by looking for high performers and leaders at every level of your organisation. Rather than focusing on job titles, look for the people who actually lead and that are constantly seeking ways to improve themselves, and others. Invite them to apply to your program.

Apply these same principles when you recruit new leaders to your organisation and program. Rather than focusing on a specific job title, focus on finding people that took action to make a difference in their organisation regardless of their specific position.

Ask managers and other leaders within your group to make recommendations.  If a potential recruit doesn’t believe that they are able to commit to the program at this time, leave the door open to future involvement with the mentoring program by letting them know up front what steps they need to take should they wish to enrol later.

Create Greater Empowerment with Regular Events

In addition to regular meetings with mentor and mentee, bring everyone in your program together every few months for regular get-togethers and events. This allows everyone in your mentoring program to compare their progress and discuss what techniques are working well for their individual mentoring relationships.

Bringing people together creates great energy and enthusiasm, which will increase morale and help everyone to feel empowered and excited about continuing with the program.

Measure Your Results and Adjust Your Program

Periodically measure the results of your Mentoring Program with the benchmarks and goals that you set when it was created. What is working? What can you change to make it easier for mentors and mentees to develop their relationships and create greater success?

If you would like some assistance in developing Mentoring Programs in your organisation, give us a call. Linda is highly experienced in coaching and mentoring and can help you design a program just right for you.

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