“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John Crosby
Your companies biggest resource and expense is its employees. Your employees are at the heart of every mentoring program. Mentoring allows your business to get the best return on investment from its human capital.
According to a 2013 survey by MicroMentor, mentored businesses increased their revenue by 83 percent while non-mentored businesses increased their revenue by only 16 percent.
A mentoring program is a low-cost, high-quality solution to improving your staff, and your business as a whole. There are numerous benefits a mentoring program offers your business, use these tips to start one in your office, today.
How to Start a Mentorship Program
Creating a mentoring program is a process that has to be unique to each business. What works for a competitor, or a company in a different industry, will not necessarily work for you. With that being said, there are several guidelines to follow when building your mentorship plan.
Determine what goals you are seeking to accomplish through your program. Every business will have different goals based on its needs. Make sure that the participants, also define what objectives they want to achieve.
Some common questions to ask when determining program goals are:
— What do we plan to achieve from this program?
— Why do our employees need mentors?
— What type of mentoring would best suit our staff?
No matter what goals you choose, they should relate to goals your business already has established. You want your mentoring program to focus on business-related goals such as increasing employee productivity or improving retention rates.
Build a structure
After you have outlined the goals of your program, you have to create its structure. The structure of your program should be built to support those goals and objectives you have already detailed. It is important to include an appropriate budget when you are building your program’s structure.
As part of building the structure your company needs to:
— Select which employees will be involved
— Determine how long the mentorship will last
— Create training materials
— Decide what type of mentoring will be used (one-on-one, electronic, group, peer)
— Choose metrics to measure results
Your business has to decide how it will match mentors with mentees. No matter what approach you use, it is usually best if the participants have some input in their match. Some amount of input will give individuals an investment in the relationship.
Dr. Liz Selzer, of the consultant firm The Mentoring Group, recommends that you pair individuals based on who they will get along with the best. When people get along, they will stay together longer.
Another important point to remember when deciding how to pair participants is to establish a system for people to exit the relationship. This system should be built in a way that allows either party to find another match without hurting the other’s feelings.
There should be a training process that every mentor and mentee has to complete before beginning the program. As part of building the structure, you should already have created training materials (handbooks, course materials, schedules) to support this process.
During training each participant needs to:
— Create a list of goals
— Link individual goals to company objectives
— Arrange dates for mentor/mentee meetings
— Learn to provide constructive criticism
Inc. recommends several other points to hit when training mentoring program participants:
— Detail why mentoring isn’t a waste of time
Make sure that members can see the initial value in the program. Guide people to understand why it matters, and how it can benefit them and their career. Use first-hand accounts of the benefits of the program, and get leaders in your company to tell participants why they think the program is important.
— Manage expectations
Reinforce, to participants, what the expectations and objectives of the program should be. Explain to participants what they should and should not expect out of it. For example, explain how participation in the program does not guarantee a raise or promotion.
— Recommend a format
Each mentoring group or pair may have a different method for their participation, based on their schedules and objectives. Your firm should still recommend a format for the mentoring pair to follow and give them examples of this format.
For example, a standard cycle for a mentoring relationship to follow is: preparation, establishing agreements, enabling, and closure.
Operating the program
There are several steps you will need to take to operate a successful mentorship program.
Everyone in your company should know about the mentoring program and be updated about it on a regular basis. Leadership should either be a part of the program or at least, endorse it and be a part of the communications that are being sent out. Stay in regular contact with participants in the program to ensure satisfaction.
— Make mentoring part of your culture
A mentorship program cannot just be an HR initiative. It has to be a business process that involves people from every facet of the organization. Like communication, leadership has to participate in this step as well.
— Evaluate success
As previously mentioned, when creating the structure of your program, you should decide what metrics you are going to use to define your results. You should be recording both quantitative (surveys, interviews) and qualitative (mentee retention, advancement rates) measurements.
Benefits of a Mentorship Program
There is an abundance of benefits that a mentoring program can give to your business. Here are five major benefits of a mentorship program.
1. It shows both internal and external stakeholders that your organization cares
A mentorship program demonstrates, to people within the company, that management is willing to invest in its employees. It also gives the outside world (investors, customers, etc.) the sense that the business values its members and staff.
2. Creates loyal employees
A mentor creates a link to the company, for the participating employees. Any investment in an employee’s career also nurtures loyalty. Increased commitment results in lower turnover rates, which in turn saves money on recruitment and hiring.
3. Fosters a more positive work environment
Mentorship plans encourage a sense of cooperation and agreement within the organization. Cross-department mentorships also helps employees to learn more about their colleagues and the company as a whole.
4. Cultivates leadership skills
Mentors gain valuable management and interpersonal relationship skills. Those who are mentors can also learn about some of the problems that face their workforce, which can help them in their current jobs. Mentees can learn from their mentors and develop their leadership and management skills.
5. More engagement and job satisfaction
Mentoring helps to develop relationships across the organization and contributes to building a more trained workforce. Both of these help to improve employee engagement. Similarly, mentoring helps to increase job satisfaction. A mentor allows mentees to alleviate job frustration and can provide them with insights into the corporate culture.
Studies show that managerial productivity increases by 88 percent when managers are involved in a corporate mentorship program, as compared to only a 24 percent increase when managers received only training but no mentorship.
Mentoring provides your company with real, tangible, results. If you want to get the best ROI on you human capital investment, begin a mentorship program. It’s time you committed to your employees and meantored it.