Career Development

Creating a Workplace Mentoring Program: Key Steps and Tips

February 11, 2021

A mentorship occurs when an advisor, or mentor, provides guidance to a mentee, sharing valuable experience, skills and knowledge. Building a mentoring program in the workplace facilitates educational opportunities that can help employees advance in their careers and can facilitate a welcoming corporate culture. In this article, we will discuss how to set up a mentoring program in a professional environment.

Read more: The Definitive Guide to Mentorship

What is a mentoring program in the workplace

A mentoring program helps new hires or those beginning their careers find experienced mentors who can guide them on their professional journeys. Mentorship programs at work can increase employee retention, boost workplace satisfaction and foster professional growth. A well-organized program offers structure and guidance throughout the mentorship process to maximize its benefits.

How to start a mentoring program

Organizing your mentorship program carefully from the beginning will give everyone clear expectations and guidelines, improving overall satisfaction with the experience. Here are five key steps for building a mentorship program in your workplace.

  1. Define the program’s goal
  2. Outline the mentoring process in the workplace
  3. Select program participants
  4. Match mentors and mentees
  5. Provide mentorship training

1. Define the program’s goal

Companies typically design mentorship programs to help improve performances. You can achieve this in many ways. You might design a mentorship program that integrates with the company’s onboarding process and focuses on helping new hires acclimate to the workplace. Another option is to develop a mentorship program for leadership development that helps to groom prospective managers for promotions. 

Determine where your company would benefit most from mentorship. Identify prospective mentees that your program will target and explore how these individuals will benefit from mentorship. Decide:

  • Where the target employees are in their professional journeys
  • What developmental needs the program will address
  • What can motivate these individuals to participate in your program

Set objectives for your mentoring program with a persona for your typical mentee in mind. Choose objectives that are clear, measurable and attainable. These objectives can help organizational leaders understand the value of your program and give your mentors clear targets to aim for.

2. Outline the mentoring process in the workplace

Mentoring programs in the workplace can take many forms. As you’re shaping your mentorship program, you must consider:

  • How mentees will apply for or enter the program
  • Whether the mentor-mentee relationship will be one on one, project-based or in a group setting
  • How long the mentorship will last
  • When and where mentors and mentees will meet
  • How you will track the success of the program

Chart the process from program enrollment to objectives completion through an assessment that will help you determine how beneficial the mentorship was to those involved. A diagram can help you visualize the critical steps your mentors and mentees will take.

Create an evaluation of the mentorship program. Information from this interview or survey will help you improve future programs so your company’s mentorship opportunities continually improve.

3. Select program participants

Successful mentoring programs in the workplace rely on a diverse pool of mentors and mentees. Use your program’s goal and outline to guide your selection process. You might choose to accept applications from anyone interested in the program or reach out to participants on an invitation-only basis.

Gather useful details about your participants, such as their professional backgrounds, key skill sets, strengths and weaknesses. Ask your mentors what they’d most like to share with mentees, and interview your mentees about their career goals so you have a clear idea of what each person has to offer.

Choose mentors who are successful and well-respected within the company. Select mentees who are dedicated to the job and positioned for advancement with further skill building and education.

4. Match mentors and mentees

Facilitate enriching mentorship opportunities by mindfully pairing your mentors and mentees so their strengths and weaknesses balance one another. You may have mentors with valuable experience in the areas that your mentees want to learn about. Examine each individual’s application, interview notes or professional file carefully to find the best matches.

Consider allowing your mentors or mentees to participate in the selection process. Provide the mentor or mentee with a choice of three candidates you’ve identified as good matches based on your assessment. Allowing participants to make the final selection can give them a sense of ownership over the process.

Read more: What Is a Mentor?

5. Provide mentorship training

Before the program begins, it’s helpful to train your mentors so they understand your expectations and how to best support their mentees. Discuss the following.

  • What is a mentoring program in the workplace?
  • What benefits will the mentors and mentees enjoy?
  • How often will mentoring take place?
  • What format will the mentorship take?

Related: Learning Styles for Career Development

There are many ways mentorship can take place. The mentor might demonstrate new skills, observe the mentee and offer constructive feedback, role-play sales calls or other important interactions. Discuss these options with your mentors and encourage them to work closely with their mentees to devise a program that works for both participants.

The goal of mentor training is to equip your mentors with the necessary tools for success. Each mentor will then select the appropriate approach based on their experience with and assessment of the mentee.

While individuals can seek out mentors on their own, there’s great value in offering a structured format for this type of relationship to develop. An organized mentoring program in the workplace makes it easy for ambitious employees to find willing advisors who aim to help them achieve their professional goals.

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