How To Benefit From Mentorship Programs (With Steps)
Updated February 3, 2023
A coworker explains details to a fellow coworker during a one-on-one meeting.
A mentorship program can allow employees in leadership positions to offer support to more inexperienced employees. This kind of program benefits both mentors and mentees, as it stimulates engagement and encourages career development. Understanding how to start a mentorship program can help you retain talented employees and create an inclusive workplace.
In this article, we discuss how to benefit from a mentorship program by explaining what it is and how to start one of your own.
What are mentorship programs?
Mentorship programs connect individuals looking to gain more experience with seasoned professionals. They can provide opportunities to learn and develop skills that can help employees progress in their careers.
Mentorship programs are often available through educational institutions. Organizations that encourage professional growth and development also offer mentorship programs. Both parties in a mentor-protégé relationship benefit, as they share their goals and values in a supportive, respectful way.
How can you benefit from mentorship programs?
Here are several benefits of mentorship programs for your organization:
Create an inclusive and diverse workplace
A mentorship program encourages younger employees to explore different opportunities within their organization. As a result, they may eventually advance into leadership positions that older generations have held for a long period.
People from different professional and social backgrounds may find themselves in leadership positions. The transparent interactions and communication that a mentorship program promotes, in general, can help create a more inclusive and diverse place to work.
Increase employee engagement
A mentorship program can significantly increase employee engagement. This kind of program can accomplish this goal in several ways, as it increases accountability for mentors and mentees, minimizes communication barriers and provides opportunities for development and training.
Both mentees and mentors can challenge themselves to implement what they learn during their sessions, which can increase their involvement in their workplace.
Related: Q&A: What Is Employee Engagement?
Retain talented employees
An employee who’s benefiting from participating in a mentorship program may want to stay at their workplace longer. This employee can be a mentor or a mentee. Your organization may save money on locating, hiring and training new employees, as it can more easily retain its current ones.
If your organization does need employees because of its expansion, it may be able to attract potential candidates more easily. The appeal of a mentorship program can be a major incentive for employees to come to work at your organization.
Promote career development
When a workplace has a mentorship program in place, it can promote career development among all employees. Entry-level employees can gain the valuable skills they need to move into mid-level positions. Mentors can become more comfortable in leadership positions and transition into senior-level roles.
How to start mentorship programs
As you begin your mentorship program, here are seven steps you can follow to achieve optimal success:
1. Identify the objective of the program
The first step in creating a successful mentorship program is identifying the objective. This objective depends on the goals of the organization, as well as the employees that plan to participate in it. For example, a company that focuses on providing opportunities to military veterans might have an objective to connect veterans from the same branches of the military.
In most cases, the general objective of a mentoring program is to encourage professional development and growth. Narrowing down the objective to meet the needs of your specific organization can make the program more beneficial to those who take advantage of it. Some specific objectives may include developing emerging leaders, building the company’s reputation, improving the workplace culture and increasing employee retention.
2. Determine who will use the program
After you define your objective, the next step is outlining which employees in the organization are most likely to use this resource. Those who want to work with a mentor are typically lower-level employees who have a passion for their work and are looking for opportunities to advance in their careers.
It’s important to target this program toward employees who are likely to commit to their personal progress and the company’s goals. Create a list of the individuals you manage who may be interested in setting up a relationship with a mentor who can encourage professional growth.
3. Establish mentoring goals
A good mentoring program has defined goals that you can easily track. For example, you might set a goal that in the first year of the program, you can assist in establishing six mentor-protégé relationships within the organization. Your specific goals depend on the size of the organization and how many willing mentors you have, but it’s important to create goals that you can continue to monitor to determine the success of the program.
Related: The Definitive Guide to Mentorship
4. Decide on a mentoring model
Many mentorship programs use a one-on-one model, but this is not the only option available to you. You can also set up a program that encourages group mentoring, where a mentor works with a group of individuals who want to learn and develop a certain skill. Self-directed mentoring is another model you could consider, which allows individuals to start seeking a mentor on their own instead of working with an assigned mentor.
If your organization prides itself on hiring motivated self-starters, a self-directed mentoring program may align with that aspect of the culture. Peer-to-peer mentoring can also benefit employees as they can learn from one another, rather than working with someone who is more advanced in their career. You may even establish a combination model that incorporates several styles to provide a more effective experience for each individual.
Related: 9 Questions To Ask Your Mentor
5. Request support from potential mentors
A successful mentorship program must have willing mentors, so the next step in the process is to request support from those within the organization who can share what they have learned with others.
Mentors are typically high-level professionals who have progressed in their careers and developed various skills and abilities. A good mentor should also have strong communication skills and enough time to dedicate to their mentees. You can request this support via email or set up a meeting with those you think would make good mentors.
6. Set up a communication system
Mentors need an easy way to communicate with those they are working with. It’s important to set up a streamlined and effective communication system for everyone who’s participating in the program. Some companies use email to communicate, while others use software programs that allow individuals to request support, set up meetings and send follow-up information.
Related: 20 Ways To Start an Email
7. Spread awareness about the program
The final step in developing a mentorship program for an organization is making sure everyone knows about it and can take advantage of the resource. Send a company-wide email, post flyers in employee break areas and talk to employees in person about the opportunity to make sure everyone receives the information.
As people sign up to work with mentors, you can request feedback to further improve the program and make sure it meets the needs of those who use it.
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