5 Steps to Make Your Corporate Mentoring Program a SuccessSeptember 24, 2019
Mentoring programs are a great asset to organizations. However, itís not enough to just have a mentoring program. Like any other business initiative, corporate mentoring programs must be planned and monitored with ROI in mind.
Too many companies today arenít sure what they really want to accomplish with their mentoring programs. This makes them hard to measure and justify with decision makers. It also makes it hard for participants to get the most out of their mentorships.
There are steps organizations can take to prove ROI when starting a mentoring program. Here are 5 steps to success.
1. Define Clear Business Objectives
Every mentoring program needs a clear objective. These objectives should consider two questions:
- Why do you have a mentoring program?
- What are you expecting to achieve with mentorships?
Leadership development and technical skill sets are the two most common objectives for mentoring programs. Objectives can also include growing the millennial talent pool, building a succession pipeline, or increasing employee retention. While these are broad objectives, your mentoring program can be tailored to achieve the goals most important to your organization.
For instance, many organizations in the IT and Sales industries use mentoring to replace training. This is because training costs usually outweigh mentoring costs. Mentoring also offers hands-on experience that training often lacks. The key business objectives of training programs can be achieved with a good mentoring program.
2. Create a Plan
While you canít plan for everything, you should have a general understanding of what you want to accomplish by when. Using your business objectives, create a plan for your program to keep everything on track. Consider these questions:
- How will you measure the success of your program?
- When do you plan to hit major milestones?
- How will you handle any obstacles or roadblocks to your original plan?
Itís a good idea to define your measurement strategy early, so you can set up indicators of success and prove the ROI of the program. We recommend a series of program evaluations at consistent intervals. For example, schedule check-ins with your participants at one month, three months, six months, and a year. This will allow you to spot problem areas before they threaten the success of the program.
3. Prepare Participants from the Beginning
Donít assume mentors and mentees will automatically fall into their roles once they enter the program. A lot of participants wonít understand the responsibility and requirements for mentoring programs. This is because mentoring is a concept that can mean different things to different people, especially across generations.
You can mitigate the challenges of role uncertainty with mentor training. Mentor training should be available to mentors, mentees, and program administrators, as well as managers of all participants. This will allow all individuals to know their roles and how they contribute to the program and the organization at large.
4. Establish a Communication Plan for Engagement
Engagement with mentoring programs tends to be highest at the beginning and decline as time goes on. In addition to check-ins, plan out your communication efforts to ensure all participants are highly engaged throughout the program. These communications should be segmented by role and continuous throughout the program duration.
Sustained engagement has become a major trend with mentoring software solutions. The more tedious aspects of mentoring, such as scheduling and surveying, are made more efficient through software. Some features that help maintain engagement include:
- Notes and Document Sharing
- Learning Plan Creation
- Goal Setting and Tracking Functionality
- Automated Messaging
- In-Platform Surveys
You want your program administrators to identify gaps in engagement early, so your software platform should alert you when participants fall off their plans. With customizable software, you will be able to add and remove features as necessary. This enables a simple platform with older generations and a complex platform for analytics.
5. Track your Program and Manage your Data
As you reach out to engage and communicate with your participants, youíll need to know if your efforts are working. Tracking the progress of your participants and your program is vital to the overall success. A great way to accomplish this is with mentoring software, which will track and manage your data effectively.
However, itís not enough to simply collect data from your mentoring program and look at it after the fact. Your data should be used regularly to gain a sense of how the program is performing and help you make adjustments.
Whether youíre communicating with stakeholders or program participants, trends from the data can drive the conversation. It can help show program successes and guide improvements.
Follow these five steps and you will be well on the way to a sustainable mentoring program. To learn more, schedule a demo to see Insalaís customized mentoring software solutions.