Designing a Mentoring Program That Improves Onboarding

January 07, 2013

We’ve all been through onboarding: the conference room, the policy agreements, the tax forms, the acronyms. How much of it all did we retain? And more importantly, how much of it was information that truly helped us understand the inner workings of our new company or learn new skills necessary for our new roles?

Traditional onboarding programs can leave a lot to be desired, by both the new hire and the company doing the hiring. Ill-prepared new hires struggle in their new roles while playing catch-up, while the company loses time and money by not fully investing in its latest employee’s potential.

To ameliorate the problem, organizations have begun to look to mentoring programs to aid their onboarding process with positive results. Just a few examples of how mentoring for onboarding can benefit new hires, mentors, and the organization as a whole include:

Benefits of Mentoring for Onboarding for the Mentee (The New Hire)

  • Start new hires off on the right foot by successfully integrating them
  • Increase self-confidence in their ability to fulfill a new job
  • Teach missing skills and impart knowledge and expertise
  • Encourage professional development

Benefits of Mentoring for Onboarding for the Mentor

  • Discover fresh ideas through the new hire
  • Receive positive recognition and reinforcement from new hire mentees

Benefits of Mentoring for Onboarding for the Organization

  • Adopt the new hire into the organization’s culture
  • Inspire staff loyalty
  • Increase speed to productivity
  • Protect recruiting investment

So how do you design a mentoring program that will support your organization’s specific onboarding objectives? Below are questions that provide a starting point:

  1. Determine your onboarding objectives. Is it to provide new employee guidance, increase retention, speed time to productivity? Lay out your goals and objectives to guide you to the next step.
  2. Choose a criterion to match your mentors and mentees. Depending on your onboarding objectives, number of years in the organization, business function, career level, skill and competencies and location can be part of your criteria.
  3. Determine at what point during onboarding the mentor should be introduced. For example, mentoring for organizational culture would require the mentor to be introduced at the start of onboarding in order to provide support from day one, while skill and job development mentors could be introduced after the new hire has already started the job in order to reinforce the training already provided.
  4. Consider group mentoring with mass onboarding. Fewer mentors are needed, groups can share similar experiences and questions with the mentor, new hires can mentor each other, and it promotes team building with the group.
  5. Make information accessible online so that mentees are able to find information on their mentor, their role in their job , and their role as a mentee.
  6. Gather information and feedback to measure mentoring success - specifically what the mentoring program achieved against your initial objectives for the program by surveying all stakeholders involved. Using mentoring software to gather feedback will allow you report on results and measure the success of your program.
  7. Use mentoring software, such as those offered by Insala, to facilitate mentoring for onboarding. The right mentoring software will include matching and pairing applications, decrease the amount of time and labor required for program administration, and provide tools and resources for participants.

If further guidance is required, consider mentoring program consulting services.

Insala is a leading global provider of mentoring, career development, and career transition solutions for organizations of all types and sizes. For more information, visit: and

Up next: "Creating an Effective Onboarding Program"

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