The person at your organisation in charge of mentoring (hopefully it’s you), be it a diversity and inclusion lead or HR manager, has to spend a lot of time (especially if they aren’t using mentoring software) building and managing the mentoring program. And sometimes a lot of that time isn’t fully appreciated – nor does it result in the mentoring program engagement the aforementioned party deserves.
And we can all empathise with the fact that there aren’t too many things worse in life than putting a lot of time and effort into something – only for it to be ignored or overlooked as a bit of a waste of time.
So is there a chance that you will spend hours/days/weeks preparing a spectacular mentoring program which your employees won’t be overly engaged in? Yes there is a chance – because there is always a chance that things won’t work out.
But fear not. Because there are a number of mentoring tactics which you can deploy to ensure (as much as humanly possible) that your employees are kept engaged in your mentoring program – so that you can rest easy knowing that your time was well spent.
ENGAGEMENT TACTIC: GAMIFICATION
Ah good old gamification. As much as we all should have the self-discipline and internal locus of control to do what is best for us – we don’t. We are terrible at doing what is best for us; particularly if there isn’t immediate gratification. Great mentoring takes time to develop, and the rewards are incremental. And that’s where gamification comes in to provide us with enough short term/immediate gratification to ensure that we stay motivated enough to reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Used correctly, gamification is an incredibly handy engagement tool. How can you gamify your mentoring program?
– Create incentives for engagement i.e an excursion/day out of the office for the employees who engage with their mentors often (e.g at least twice per month for a period of 6 months)
– Create a prized mentor for the highest rated mentee in the program i.e the mentee who best achieves their initial mentoring goals gets to be mentored by the CEO for the next 3 months.
The gamification opportunities are essentially endless. Just make sure the rewards and rewarded actions align with your program goals and don’t take away from the mentoring relationships. The reward should encourage the positive activity and engagement in a way such that the employees eventually see mentoring as the reward and no longer need the ‘carrots’ of gamification.
ENGAGEMENT TACTIC: MANAGER BUY-IN
The easiest way to ensure employees get engaged with your mentoring program in the first place (which is requisite for keeping them engaged) is to have upper management advocate for and back the program. While all employees should assume that each and every workplace program is important, they are using heuristics (mental shortcuts) just like the rest of us to arrive at conclusions as to how important this program is to them and their careers right now.
Having the CEO or a very senior level staff member speak to how important this program is to them – and how important mentoring has been to their own career, is a quick and easy way to ensure your employees understand that the program needs to be taken seriously.
ENGAGEMENT TACTIC: SHOW YOUR EMPLOYEES THE BENEFITS
Your organisation (and every other organisation) relies on proof of success in the form of case studies, client stories, and referrals to make smart decisions about our vendors, recruits etc. And yet we often forget to do this for internal practices. Would you buy a car or go to an expensive restaurant in the year 2017 without checking some reviews or asking a friend. Probably not. And you shouldn’t expect your employees to donate their time and effort to a program which they don’t know the value of – yet.
Create a few case studies and success stories of previous mentorships that really affected an employee, or resulted in a promotion or particularly useful skill development. Have previous mentors and mentee speak about their great experience and new-found relationships. If you don’t voice the benefits of mentoring – and show some proof of the results – then your employees probably won’t ever understand the benefits of getting engaged with the program.
ENGAGEMENT TACTIC: SELF-MATCHING
Humans are funny creatures. There are a number of psychological traits that we all exhibit and adhere to – and they are often centered around appearing consistent and avoiding cognitive dissonance. You can leverage this against your employees (in a good way) by letting them choose their own mentor or mentee. When employees do this, they subconsciously commit to the mentoring relationship more than they would if you matched them.
When we make a decision ourselves, we suffer from commitment bias, whereby we are more likely to stick with what we have said we will do in the past. This commitment trigger is never pulled if employees are placed into mentorships by a third party or ‘coordinator’.
If you want to explore self-matching as an option – we have a feature called My Match which makes this possible – and enjoyable. Check it out here.
ENGAGEMENT TACTIC: DRIP-FEED CONTENT & RESOURCES
Your mentoring program shouldn’t go cold after launch. In fact, the program should be intermittently filled with helpful content and resources which push your employees in the right direction and notify them of expectations and best practices. Maybe your mentors don’t know how to help mentees set goals; maybe your mentees don’t know how to approach their first meeting with their mentor. These moments and voids in knowledge and understanding give you an opportunity to step in, guide them, add value to the mentoring experience – and keep all employees happy and engaged.
The Mentorloop platform facilitates the automated sharing of content and resources in-app or via email. Read a bit more about it here.
The point of these engagement tactics is to persuade stubborn and change-averse humans into doing something that is highly advantageous for them but often hard to stay engaged with; much like exercising, goal-setting, and studying are good practices which we would all love to do more of but struggle to find the motivation or ‘triggers’.
Leveraging some of these tactics is a great way to increase your chances of getting a greater return on the time you invest in facilitating your mentoring program – and a great way to ensure your employees stay engaged with your mentoring program and create positive habits and effective mentorships that they will be very grateful for.
If you are interested in learning how mentoring software can help your employees stay engaged with the program – including through facilitating many of the above elements – request a software demo right here.