Finding mentors for your mentoring program isn’t quite as hard as you may think. From a distance, becoming or being a mentor can seem like an unnecessary burden and tim-sap. But once you delve beyond the obvious time-factor and additional work, you’ll find that most people love to mentor (help) other people, and find great fulfillment in playing the role of mentor.
Even with this knowledge, actually finding mentors for your mentoring program can seem daunting and difficult. So here are a few ways you can inspire and engage your people to want to become mentors – which will go a long way to ensuring your mentoring program success.
1. Start by promoting your mentoring program
In order for people to become mentors, they need to be aware of the program. The first step to attempting to fill the mentor side of your mentoring program is to first promote the entire program. There are a number of ways – each with their own benefits – that you can promote your mentoring program – including via email, marketing materials, and via mentoring software.
If you’d like some more details and help in promoting your mentoring program, download our promotion guide.
2. Reverse engineer the matching process
If you have already promoted your mentoring program and had little interest or feedback from mentors, then it’s time to reverse engineer the process and create a little more tangibility and urgency.
Instead of asking people to volunteer to mentor, find your mentees first. Then take this number of mentees and find corresponding mentors.
Go to potential mentors and tell them that you have 50,100, or 200 keen co-workers who are looking for a mentor. This creates a more urgent and tangible void for the mentors to fill.
It’s kind of like dating…
Sometimes you need to know that other person wants to spend time with you, before you care to take an interest in them.
3. Lower the barriers and expectations for being a mentor
Friction is what stops people from doing things. In the case of being a mentor, sometimes it simply sounds like a lot of work – or a big commitment.
Reducing the burden of becoming a mentor inherently increases the people who are interested. With any communication you send to potential mentors, highlight the lack of time required to make a difference to a mentee – which is often less than one hour per month.
Also reduce the perceived barriers to being a mentor. The word mentor is loaded; it conjures ideas about years of experience and success. This simply isn’t true. Everyone has some advice and experience to share and offer. A person three years into their career is in the perfect position to mentor someone who just graduated college.
4. Provide mentor incentives
If none of this works, it’s time to use your most valuable tool: the incentive.
In order to spark some interest, offer a prize for the most engaged mentor; speak to the value of becoming a mentor in seeking a management position; or offer a mentor-mentee excursion day for those who sign up.
The type of incentive is capped by your imagination – so have fun with it.
Any incentive you do provide will be a great investment, reducing people costs (such as retention, management training etc.) and improving performance for both mentors and mentees.
5. Look beyond your walls
If all of these options fail, then you may need to look beyond the walls of your organisation.
If you have a small enough program, you can look for select mentor volunteers who align well with your program goals; you can encourage your people to connect with a mentor outside of work; or you can potentially engage in cross-company mentoring – an offering which allows you to engage mentors from non-competing organisations for a small fee.
Disrupting the status quo is hard
Getting people to do just about anything is hard, because they know (and to a certain extent enjoy) the status quo. Change is inherently difficult. That’s why people take some friendly coercion or convincing to do something they ultimately want to do.
Engage one or a few of these tactics to find and engage the right mentors for your mentoring program. After all, they are half of the equation.