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How to Start a Mentor Program

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Hiring the right candidate for the job is a good start, but you can do more to keep your company running efficiently. People want to learn, evolve and be inspired. As your employees grow and maximize their potential, so does your organization. If you want your employees to grow, your support is crucial. You can provide training and the necessary support. Creating and maintaining a mentor program is ideal for fostering the development of your staff and improving their performance. In this article, you can learn how to create an effective mentor program.


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1. Communicate your expectations

People need to understand the meaning of mentorship in order to benefit from a mentor program. Reflect on the reasons why you want to start the program. It should respond to a need in your company. For example, a mentorship program can:

  • Contribute to the acclimation of the newly hired employees
  • Develop management and improve leadership skills
  • Increase the retention rate of the employees
  • Provide a transfer of knowledge from retiring employees to other staff
  • Improve customer service

You should find out what being successful means for your employees. Then, define the goals of the program. Is it a learning program for a future task or a new position? Is the objective to develop employees on a personal level? Explain what you expect from the mentors and the mentees.


2. Select the mentors

You need to select the right mentors for your mentorship program. You need people who enjoy helping others achieve their goals. Here are the qualities you can look for when you make your selection:

  • Enthusiastic: Good mentors are passionate and sincere. They want to help. Their passion pushes them to mentor because they feel rewarded when the people they train become successful.
  • Excellent listener: Good mentors take time to listen to the employees, and they set aside any other duties during their meetings. They can give space for reflection.
  • Respectful: While effective mentors certainly influence mentees, they don’t force the mentees into anything. They don’t try to control the actions or emotions of others. They should show empathy and not be judgmental.
  • Expert: The right mentors will possess the skills and talents that are suited to the program’s goals. They will be experts on the subject they teach to others.

Once you select your mentors, you can inform them about the goals of the program and the benefits they will bring to the organization.


3. Recruit the mentees

First, you can let people know about your new mentoring program. Post announcements and share good reasons to participate. There is usually a natural enthusiasm among the personnel toward mentoring, but not always. Employees are sometimes worried about the time they should invest in the program, in addition to their daily duties. It is your task to generate enthusiasm.

There should be a promotion at stake to motivate the employees to volunteer. Also, talk to them and communicate the potential benefits of the mentoring program. Let your employees know you see potential in them and that you want to help in their careers.


4. Match mentors and mentees

To correctly connect mentors with their mentees, you should consider the expertise and objectives of each employee participating in the program. Be careful not to neglect their learning styles and backgrounds. Is there a need for encouragement, teaching of concepts or for a more hands-on approach? Once you define the objective, it is a good idea to have the participants’ input in the matching process by having them provide a list of their top three preferred matches. This can help to avoid putting together pairs with personality conflicts. A mentor-mentee relationship should be meaningful and constructive.


5. Specify how the mentorship program will work

You can create a structured program, but you may want to keep aspects flexible. You can decide how to organize meetings, define how often participants meet, and choose a location that works. Also, verify that the mentors are available to meet in person. They may have a heavy traveling schedule, for instance, so the program should adapt. It is possible to organize regular phone or video conferences, as long as it suits both the mentor and mentee.


6. Referee

You can designate someone to monitor the mentor/mentee relationship. This person’s task is to ensure that the mentor chooses activities that benefit the mentee and the company. It can be the administrator of the program or the participant’s supervisor, as long as the person is neutral to the mentorship pair.

To keep the program running smoothly, involving management is crucial. It won’t work if you just select participants, set goals and leave them be. A productive mentor program requires attention from the company leaders.


7. Set rules for confidentiality

The mentor/mentee pairs should trust each other. The mentees should be able to confide their concerns without any fear of them being disclosed to anyone. Both parties need to agree that If anything illegal or contrary to the company’s policies should occur, disclosure would be mandatory.


8. Provide guidance

With proper direction, the mentoring relationship will maintain its focus and momentum. Therefore, structure and guidance during the mentorship program are crucial to its success.

You can provide your participants with a goal and an action plan. It helps to get the program started and gives them an objective to reach. Secondly, your mentors should receive mentoring best practice guides and access to necessary resources. Then, there should be a timeline with dates when both have to report on their progress.

Productive and positive mentoring is an excellent approach to improving the quality of your workforce. Like all worthwhile pursuits, it requires planning and follow-up. It is not only a question of proper selection and matching of participants; it requires constant training. The mentors and mentees need to stay focused on the program’s goals throughout the mentoring process in order for the program, and your company, to reach its full potential.


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