Tips on Setting up a Mentoring Programme

Many businesses choose to use mentors in the workplace during the process of onboarding new members of staff. They pair a current, reliable, hardworking employee with a new staff member to act as their mentor. The mentor is on hand to help with any questions the new employee may have about the company whilst also acting as a friendly face they can talk to and discuss any concerns they may have about work. The aim of this process is to help new employees integrate into the company more effectively.

In many instances, the mentoring process isn’t well used and doesn’t continue after a few weeks or months of the new employee starting the business. Mentor programmes can be much more effective when they’re used strategically in all areas of the business, not just as an obligatory part of the onboarding process. For example, a female junior staff member may benefit from leadership pointers and tips from a senior female leader in the business. This article takes a look at some tips for businesses looking to set up an effective mentoring program.

Find a pool of willing mentors 

Often mentors are selected at random from people that have been in the business for a few years and have progressed well within their job role. However, to be a successful mentor takes hard work and willingness to set aside time to communicate with mentees. Mentors need to be aware of the level of commitment expected from them before they agree to sign up for the programme. This information will ensure that the mentee gets someone that’s going to help them in a positive way and will have the time and motivation to do so. 

Train mentors

It’s unreasonable to expect all managers and senior leaders to have the skills and knowledge to teach and impart their wisdom to more junior members of the team. Being a mentor may come naturally to some individuals, whereas others may need resources and training to help them build the skills needed. By investing in training, you can help senior leaders develop new skills which could enable them to do their job more effectively. It may even encourage them to switch positions in the company and take on a coaching career. The mentees will have a better experience and learn more skills if they’re being mentored by people that have been properly trained. 

Match up personalities and goals

A mentor should be carefully and appropriately matched with a mentee. A good way to do this is to send out questionnaires to everyone that wants to be in the programme. Ask them for information about their goals, personality and hobbies. When a mentor and a mentee form a good relationship, the programme is much more likely to be successful. Those with similar interests and goals are considerably more likely to build good relationships. Two people that are opposites may struggle to learn from each other and form a lasting connection. 

Willing participation

Before matching a mentee with a potential mentor, it is important to make sure that the mentee wants to take part in the programme. If they don’t want to learn or have no interest in progressing, it's a waste of everyone's time. Not all employees want to manage teams or become leaders; some are happy in their current position and don’t want additional responsibility. Often people forget this and force mentor programmes on people when they don’t want to take part.

Structured mentoring sessions

The start of any mentoring programme is the most challenging and important. If the first meeting or conversation doesn’t work, then the programme might never come to fruition. A business can help facilitate the discussions and sessions between a mentor and their student by providing structured sessions. This can help both parties know what to expect and get the most out of their time together. After a few months, these structured sessions may no longer be needed as the relationship is likely to be more cemented and natural. However, starting with a plan of what to discuss, how regularly to meet up, and information for each person to bring to the meeting can be very useful.