How To Start A Corporate Mentoring Program
The following are some tips to start a successful corporate mentoring program in your organization.
1. Plan Mentoring Program Objectives
Plan your workplace mentoring around your organization's HR strategic goals and outline the objectives for each mentoring program initiative.
Mentoring Programs might support:
- Management development for high potential employees
- New hire employee orientation and speed to productivity
- Employee engagement for positions with traditionally high employee turnover
- Knowledge transfer and succession planning
- Workplace diversity initiatives
- Executive leadership development
- Work life balance
2. Find Your Executive Champion
Look for an executive outside of the human resources and training department who will support and sponsor your mentoring program. Look for someone who attributes his or her success to having had a great mentor. Your champion should be willing and able to encourage participation, energize the program, participate in mentoring activities and help fund the program.
3. Determine An Appropriate Budget
Create a budget which may be used for items such as communication materials, mentor training, mentorship kick-off and ongoing events, online mentoring software, mentor incentives and expense reimbursements.
4. Identify The Employees To Participate In The Mentoring Programs
A program may be as small as 50 participants for a very specialized mentoring program or as large as the entire company for a general mentor program. It's not unusual for a large company to have multiple mentoring initiatives running concurrently. Employees may participate in more than one mentoring program if they match and can benefit from the objectives of the program.
5. Determine Mentoring Program Structure
Define the level of formality and the program rules for each of your mentoring programs. Programs may run from very informal with no rules to very formal mentoring programs with signed participant contracts. Program rules should include:
- Length of mentorship (somewhere between 9 months and 18 months)
- Required or suggested number of mentor-mentee meetings and mentorship activities
- Maximum allowable job levels between mentor and mentee (generally no more than 2 levels)
- Maximum number of mentees per mentor
- Eligibility to participate
6. Plan Your Mentor Matching Strategy And Tactics
Allow for self-matching or some involvement by the mentees in the selection of his or her mentor. For programs with more than 100 participants the use of an online mentoring software or e-mentoring program like Mentor Scout may be helpful.
7. Find Your Mentors
Conduct a "Call for Mentors," which may range from nominations by senior managers for formal specialty programs to self-identification for general programs.
Publicize the mentoring program through multiple communication channels.
9. Launch The Mentoring Program
Kick-off your mentoring program with pizazz. Hold a luncheon or afternoon snack-filled meeting to discuss the roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees and share past successful mentoring stories.
10. Create Mentoring Communication
Communicate frequently with mentor program participants. To keep your program energized, continue to communicate with your participants throughout the life of the program. Offer ideas for mentoring activities, additional training through webinars, podcasts and white papers posted on a mentoring program website. Continue to share new mentoring success stories.
11. Develop and Track Mentoring Program Metrics
Monitor, track and measure the results of the program against the program objectives. Are you meeting participation goals? Is the employee retention rate of program participants better than non-participants? Are those participating in the mentoring program being successfully promoted at higher rates than non-participants? What percentage of goals set during the mentorships have been achieved? Do your mentors have the appropriate skills and experience for your mentees development needs?
Clearly communicate the success of the mentoring program to senior leaders inside and outside of HR. Make your executive champion (and yourself) look good.
Beth N. Carvin is CEO & president of Nobscot Corporation, a Honolulu-based company known for its exit interview management software. One of its products is Mentor Scout, an online mentoring tool for facilitating employee mentoring programs, which was selected by Human Resource Executive® magazine as one of the best HR products of 2007.