Improving Mentor and Mentee EngagementJuly 08, 2019
Itís true that starting a mentoring program requires a lot of investment. Youíve likely spent a lot of time preparing matches, creating objectives, and establishing a timeline. Sometimes all the planning can overlook important aspects, like how to improve employee engagement with the program.
Your participants must be engaged in their mentorships to get the most out of it. Without sustained engagement, even the best-planned mentoring program is doomed to fail. This means you need to plan an engagement strategy from the beginning to go along with your program.
Here are 7 ways to improve mentor and mentee engagement.
1. Position your program as an organizational strategy
Participants in your mentoring program shouldnít think of it as a trivial team building activity with low priority. You need to make it clear to all mentors and mentees that their mentorships are an extremely important investment in their development.
This attitude shouldnít be limited to program participants, either. Everyone in your organization needs to view mentoring as a critical element of success. This includes top-level leadership and stakeholders. Remind your whole organization that your business mentoring program is still business.
2. Clearly define the commitment
Successful mentoring relationships require a lot of commitment. However, incoming mentors and mentees may not realize this, making it easy for them to get overwhelmed. It is your job to clearly outline the expectations as far as time and effort at the beginning of the relationship.
Another set of individuals you should communicate with is the managers. Mangers should be aware of the time commitment their employees have in their mentorships. You should get buy-in from them before recruiting their employees, so they show support for you.
You make the requirements and expectations clear by defining mentor and mentee roles openly. You can define them in writing or during mentor and mentee training. Either way, itís your job to make sure that participants fully understand what is required before the program begins.
3. Communicate whatís in it for them
Mentoring is beneficial for both mentors as well as mentees. You should be upfront about these benefits. The best way to accomplish this is through mentoring training. You can also communicate benefits by sending out articles and studies with mentoring software.
While mentoring is about the mentee and mentor, it is also beneficial to the overall organization. Engaged mentoring relationships result in highly engaged employees, and it also improves company culture.
Advertising the benefits of mentoring will obtain organization-wide buy-in to the program. It can also help you recruit new participants.
4. Prepare the managers
Like we mentioned, your mentors and mentees are not the only ones you should communicate with. Managers also need to be aware of the expectations and desired results of your mentoring program. They also need to know what they can do to support the participants. Because of this, consider implementing manager training to prepare your managers for the mentoring program.
Without sufficient training, managerial expectations will constantly conflict with the time requirements for the program. Giving them training will provide understanding, and participants wonít start skipping their sessions because of management pressures.
5. Book meeting time up front
Have your participants or admins schedule time for mentoring sessions, but donít just block time out on the calendar. Make sure there are agendas in place at each meeting so participants know what will be discussed. Mentoring software makes it easy for participants to schedule program events and create notifications. Software enables a simple process to success.
6. Check in with your program frequently
If you arenít regularly asking your mentors and mentees how the partnership is going, they can veer out of the programís objectives. They can even stop engaging with your program completely. If they are experiencing a problem that is blocking engagement, you need to be aware so you can help.
This means you need to check-in with both mentors and mentees to see how the relationship is going. Letting them know that youíre serious about the success of the program will give them even more of a reason to engage in the mentorship.
But remember, you donít always have to check in for problems. You can engage your mentors and mentees by providing useful content via mentoring software. Send out informative articles, newsletters, and surveys to keep them engaged in the program.
7. Allow reassignments
Everyone has the best of intentions when starting a mentoring program, but things donít always work out. Remind your participants that bad mentor matches do happen, and itís not anyoneís fault. Both mentors and mentees should be able to go to the program administrator for a reassignment without penalty.
Following these seven steps will help you ensure that your mentoring program lasts well beyond implementation. It will also help you make a positive impact on mentors, mentees, and the whole organization.