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Strategies for mentoring programs in the workplace

Strategies for mentoring programs in the workplace

Many employees come to work with the skills and drive to get the job done but feel like they’re not reaching their full potential. And some may excel in one area but lack important skills in others. This, in turn, can lead to low satisfaction and retention rates among employees, not to mention missed opportunities for your company.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that most Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs in the workplace. But while the benefits for mentors, mentees, and the company as a whole are numerous, it’s not always clear where to begin. Get started with the following five strategies.

1. Choose goals for your mentoring program

A business mentoring program can target any level of employees and a plethora of challenges, so it helps to focus on a few clear goals. Will the program help new employees understand the company culture? Improve retention rates? Develop middle managers’ leadership skills? Build stronger inter-generational relationships?

“Having goals makes it possible to measure the program’s success,” says Bill Sanders, principal and senior consultant for Roebling Strauss, Inc. For example, in a program targeting employee retention, you could look at before-and-after retention rates. You could also target and measure employee satisfaction, engagement, or promotion rates.

2. Keep it simple

A mentoring program doesn’t have to be complicated, and the bulk of the work occurs upfront in the preparation phase. According to Lars Sudmann, an executive coach with Sudmann & Company BVBA, people often formulate highly elaborate mentoring programs in the workplace. He describes these approaches as both costly and counterproductive.

A mentoring program needs leadership, whether it’s one person or an advisory board. And your timeframe depends on how big the program is and how many people you want to participate. Remember that the most effective mentoring happens at a personal level. So, have one or two people in your company map and match potential mentees and mentors, and then initiate the mentoring relationship.

3. Show you value mentoring by evaluating and rewarding mentors

Mentees aren’t the only ones who benefit from these programs. They also help mentors grow in their coaching, management, and communication skills. But it is work, and chances are those mentors are already pretty busy.

While it’s great to mentor for altruistic reasons, “the mentor needs to know what’s in it for them,” as University of Indianapolis assistant professor, Terry Schindler explains. To show you value mentors, include their efforts as part of their annual performance review and find ways to recognize and reward them throughout the year.

4. Help mentees manage the relationship

Mentoring programs in the workplace often fade away after a few months. “One reason that I heard often from mentees: ‘My mentor never contacted me,'” Sudmann says. “Well, of course not, that’s not the role of a mentor.” Sudmann recommends making it clear to mentees that they are in charge of the process: setting up meetings, putting questions together, etc. That can help keep the relationship alive.

Additionally, mentees and mentors often don’t know what to discuss in a mentor/mentee meeting, so it can be awkward at times. Give them each a one-page overview (no big manuals) with potential questions they can discuss, such as career topics for the protégé and areas of support for the mentor.

5. Consider alternative mentoring options

Not everyone is cut out to be a mentor. If you’re lacking in-house advisors, consider using a service who can match your employees with external mentors. Find them through your industry’s trade associations, local business groups, or mentor-matching websites like FindAMentor.com, Micromentor.org, or SCORE.

Mentoring programs in the workplace can help with recruiting

A well-crafted mentoring program can be a huge help to current employees, regardless of their position. But it can also serve as an incentive during recruiting. Many candidates would be happy to know that your company plans to support its new hire with a solid mentoring program. Get started with expert recruiting advice and the latest hiring trends at Monster Hiring Solutions.