Creating a Successful Workplace Mentorship Program

A workplace mentorship program matches early-career workers with experienced employees who can help guide them along their professional paths.

Although some people are able to find a mentor on their own, this can be haphazard at best. A structured program ensures that everyone who wants a mentor gets one, while providing guidance and assistance for both the mentor and the mentee throughout their process. There are five basic steps to creating a mentorship program.

Narrow the Focus

The goal of a workplace mentorship program is typically to improve performance. But what does that mean to your company? Do you want to focus on new hires? Groom strong employees for management positions? What are the clear, measurable, attainable objectives for your program?

Detail the Process

The more specific you can make the process, the more likely it is to achieve your objectives. Things to consider include:

  • How do mentees enter the program?
  • What are the criteria for mentor selection and assignment?
  • What is the length of each mentorship?
  • How often, where, and when will meetings take place?
  • Will mentors and mentees meet strictly one-on-one, or would group meetings be helpful?
  • How will you track success?
  • How often will you review the mentorship program and make tweaks if needed?

Choose and Match Participants

Following the focus and program outline you developed, choose your mentors and mentees. You might decide to accept all interested mentees, or you might invite specific people to participate based on the criteria of your choosing. Mentors should be well-respected, successful employees who have shown a knack for leadership.

When you have chosen your participants, gather data about each person, including their strengths, weaknesses, and professional interests. Then create well-balanced pairings. For example, you might assign a mentor with solid experience in a particular area to a mentee who wants to learn more about that specific area. Alternately, you might develop a few proposed matches and let the mentors or mentees choose from two or three prospects.

Train Your Mentors

Your mentors may be unsure where to begin. Hold at least one training session that focuses on the following:

  • Defining the mentorship program and its goals
  • Explaining the benefits for both mentors and mentees
  • Discussing time commitments and frequency of meetings
  • Talking about the format the mentorship will take

While it’s important to set parameters, it’s equally important to let each mentorship develop naturally. All mentors and mentees are different, and they will naturally form working partnerships that make sense for them. Keep the lines of communication open, show appreciation for everyone’s efforts and participation, and offer guidance as needed, but avoid the urge to micromanage.

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