The benefits of formalised mentoring are well appreciated, with evangelists spanning across the entire professional spectrum. However, organisational mentoring programs are often poorly designed, poorly run, and poorly executed. And unfortunately, this kills most of the potential gains an organisation, mentor, and mentee can garner from a formalised mentoring program. While mentoring is very much a some is always better than none proposition, these five features will ensure that your mentoring program is on the right track.
A great mentoring program is inclusive
Mentoring is often reserved for exclusive groups, be it high achievers or minority groups. While these groups can of course benefit from mentoring, there is a huge majority of individuals who are wrongly omitted. Truly great mentoring programs are inclusive, because all individuals can benefit from support, advice, and ongoing development – and all organisations can benefit from a more interconnected workplace.
A great mentoring program is mentor-mentee oriented
Many modern mentoring programs are ROI and tracking focused. This is great for HR and the C-suite, but fails to address the actual program participants. The function of a mentoring software or program infrastructure is to enable and facilitate a better mentor-mentee experience. Mentors and mentees are the target beneficiaries of mentoring programs, and yet they often understand less about mentoring than the program head or coordinator, and often receive far less support and attention.
A great mentoring program features frequent communication
This is vital. Too many mentoring programs begin with an explosion of activity and die with a whimper. This is because communication either fades out or dies abruptly. While some communication is better than none, to get tangible benefits from mentoring you really need to be conversing with your mentee or mentor at least once every couple of weeks. Setting concrete meeting times and using the right communication forum will ensure that the mentoring fire stays lit. So what do you talk about all the time – see below.
A great mentoring program is action-oriented
Mentoring is not a passive endeavour; it should feature goal-setting, task assigning, and event attendance. And these tasks should be ongoing and active. Sitting down and discussing career trajectories with no attached actions doesn’t get a mentee anywhere, and it doesn’t allow the mentor to give true feedback and advice either. Requiring and encouraging correct goal-setting is the easiest and most beneficial way to create an action oriented mentoring program.
A great mentoring program features the right mentee-mentor matches
Most good relationships in life require a little bit of chemistry, and mentor relationships are no different.Today’s softwares do a great job in matching people based on interests, experience, and desires, but cannot account for that secret sauce. In order to create sustainable mentorships that continue to pay both mentee and mentor dividends, ensure that the matches are right at the beginning of the program.
Mentoring will continue to gain favour in the coming years as ongoing learning and development become increasingly important; as people become increasingly isolated from human advice and support; and as employers continue to seek improved ways of engaging and retaining the best talent.
But don’t just build or start a mentoring program. Make sure it’s a good one.