We continue to expand on an article from the globe and mail about attracting and recruiting talent in Canada. In this post, we expand on one of the five strategies as outlined in the article – today being: Starting a mentorship or coaching program.

For employers, mentoring increases retention, promotion rates, and employee satisfaction. The rewards for your business in hiring a co-op is similar to those of when you offer your existing employees a mentorship / coaching program. Your employees can:

  • Develop a different way of thinking or doing things, by learning from an more senior or experienced mentor – bringing new insight to their role
  • Increase business growth, by having more qualified and trained employees on staff
  • Become ambassadors for your organization in attraction and recruitment by promoting the program
  • Become a future mentor – the program can continue as the mentee can become a mentor

How to Design a Mentoring Program?

There are five steps to take in designing a mentoring program.

Source: Chronus

1. Design Your Program

The first step is to design your program. Start by outlining why you are starting this program and what does success look like for participants and your business. Dive into your audience – your employees – and understand who they are, where they are, their development needs, and their key motivations to participate. Translate your vision into SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Objectives provide direction to program participants, establish program key performance indicators (KPIs), and help organizational leaders understand why they should offer their support.

Successful mentoring programs offer both structure and flexibility. Structure provides participants a mentoring workflow to follow and is critical to help participants achieve productive learning that reaches defined goals. Similarly, flexibility is essential to support varying individual mentoring needs across specific learning goals, preferences, and learning style.

Key design decisions include:

  • Enrollment – is it open, application, or invite only?
  • Mentoring style – can be traditional, flash, reverse
  • Connection type – possibly 1:1, group, or project
  • Connection duration – typically weeks or months, or perhaps even just a single session
  • Community/social aspects beyond formal mentoring, tracking and reporting needs.

TIP: Develop a workflow diagram to explain each step of your program including key actions, timeframes, support resources, and criteria for moving to the next phase or use a third-party mentoring software.

2. Attract Participants

The best designed mentoring programs won’t get far without effective program promotion, mentor recruitment, and training. Most new mentoring programs will be met with a lot of enthusiasm, however that may not transfer to signups. The most common issue is poor promotion. It is key to effectively promote the benefits to both the mentors and mentees, convey the importance of mentorship and that is is very much worth their time and effort.

It is important to understand the positive and negative factors that impact mentor participation. Once you have identified them, look for creative ways to reinforce positive drivers and lower the hurdles of negative ones throughout the mentoring process.

Provide training to mentors and mentees regarding the program’s goals, participant roles, mentoring best practices, and your mentoring process. Help mentors and mentees clarify their own objectives. The need for training and guidance doesn’t end after the initial orientation. Provide tips and best practices throughout the mentoring program to help participants stay on track and get the most out of the program.

Source: Chronus

3. Connect Mentors and Mentees

A productive mentoring relationship depends on a good match. Matching is often one of the most challenging aspects of a program. Participants will bring various competencies, backgrounds, learning styles and needs. A great match for one person may be a bad match for another. You can consider self-matching (mentor matches a mentee) or administrative matching (program administrator applies mentor to mentee)

Source: Chronus

4. Guide Mentoring

Mentoring is not typically part of one’s daily routine. Without direction and a plan, the mentoring relationship is vulnerable to losing focus and momentum. That is why providing some structure and guidance throughout the mentorship is vital to a successful mentoring program. One best practice is to ensure all mentorships have goals and action plans. This serves two purposes. First, it brings focus at the onset, which helps a mentorship get off to a good start. Second, it adds accountability to accomplish something.

5. Measuring Success

Mentoring is a significant investment. Mentoring programs should be tracked, measured, and assessed at three altitudes: the program, the mentoring connection, and the individual. To be effective you need the ability to capture metrics and feedback throughout the program lifecycle.

Source: Chronus

For mentoring connections, you want to understand mentorship behavior to identify roadblocks and opportunities.

For participants, you want to understand the impact of mentoring in terms of outcomes while acquiring program feedback.

If you are interested in learning more about developing a mentoring program, contact us and we would be happy to provide more resources, help develop a program, or connect you with an expert.