Whether you’re trying to transition a new hire into the business, or you’re trying to train senior staff members on how to use newly updated software, mentoring can serve as a great business-training strategy. The effectiveness of a mentoring program, however, is determined by its results. And, if you feel that you’re not necessarily achieving all of your projected goals with the mentoring program you have, you might want to consider restructuring it. We have put together four tips on how to construct the best-possible mentoring program for your business.
Tip One: Know What You Would Like to Achieve Out of Your Mentorship Program
To adequately assess the success of any project, decide what you would like to achieve. For some business owners, it may be increasing new-hire retention rates. For others, it may be encouraging bridge building between employees from different departments. The great thing about a mentor program is that it can be catered to your specific needs and wants.
Make sure to create a layout of goals that you would like to see after the completion of your business-training program. With objectives, you’ll be able to reflect, review and, if needed, make changes to ensure that your next round of mentorships is better and more effective.
Tip Two: Make Sure Your Mentoring Program Has Structure
If your mentoring program is disorganized, it can deter employees from actively wanting to participate in it. The last thing you want to do is make mentoring something that employees wouldn’t do if they had the choice. Make sure to prepare forms, questionnaires and instructional sheets, so employees know what to expect out of the process.
Business training should reflect your company culture. So, there’s no reason that this sentiment shouldn’t apply to your mentorship program, as well. If your company is more formal, then ensure that this is reflected in your mentorship. If your company is a bit more laid back, then reflect that during the mentoring process. While mentorships should be a way for employees to communicate, they should also be a way for them to understand the company’s culture.
Tip Three: Choose a Pairing Process that Works for Your Company
Traditionally, mentorships have been one-on-one experiences between two employees. However, workplaces have evolved and so have business-training methods. Numerous companies have adopted different mentorship-pairing options. Some of these include group mentoring, expert-facilitated mentoring, reverse mentoring, where lower-level employees mentor higher-level employees and “flash mentoring,” where employees have allotted time with different mentors – similar to speed dating.
While types of pairing options are taken into account, employers also need to consider how to choose the individuals that compose each mentor-mentee pair or group. You can match individuals by analyzing submitted questionnaires or assessing shared interests. Or, you can put individuals together randomly. However, in an Inc.com article, Dr. Liz Selzer, a consultant with the California-based company, The Mentor Group, suggested pairing individuals that are expected to get along best. “If people get along, they’ll stay in the pair longer,” she said in the article. One of our Walsh Leadership Center members, Rachelle Smith, owner of Positive Creative Infusion, LLC suggests that same sex pairing works best with new hires. “In my experience, same sex pairing is best for acclimating a new person – for things like finding the bathroom, wardrobe rules, even where to sit in the lunchroom.”
Tip Four: You May Know Why Mentoring is Valuable, but Make Sure to Convey that to Employees
For some employees, mentoring can seem like a drag, or even a waste of time. They may not immediately see the benefits of interacting with other employees– especially if their day-to-day work obligations don’t require them to do so. However, as a business owner, it is in your best interest to integrate and embed the idea that mentoring is a crucial, beneficial part of business training.
There are multiple ways to ensure that your employees genuinely want to participate in mentorships. One way is giving them the option to participate in them.
However, some employers shy away from this practice out of concern that not enough mentors will show up during business-training sessions. If this is the case, you may want to communicate the importance of mentoring by providing employees with informational statistics supporting the pros of mentoring or sharing testimonials from their fellow staffers regarding the mentorship program – giving them a preview of what their experience might be like if they participate. As another alternative, you could also award specific perks to employees who choose to take part in the program.
Ultimately, you want to ensure that staffers know that mentoring is something that is not just beneficial to the company as a whole, but to the mentor and protégé, as well.
The great thing about mentorships is that you have full range when it comes to designing how it will fit into your company’s business-training practices. And, most importantly, there’s never a wrong time to implement a mentorship program. “It’s never too late to have a mentor,” says attorney Maria Speth in a Bloomberg Businessweek article. “If there’s an area in your career or your personal life you need to improve, don’t think it’s too late.” Mentoring may just prove to be a great way for you to improve areas of your company or life.
If you’re interested in getting a better understanding of mentorship programs or other business training opportunities, check out Walsh Institute’s customized business training. Our team can come to your location and work with your staff to implement new skills and productivity tools into your business.