How to Start a Mentoring Program in 6 Steps

Start your mentoring program with these 6 easy and effective steps.

Planning a Mentoring Program« Back to Articles

Organisations are now acknowledging the value mentoring brings to the table, and it’s no surprise that the increase in demand is due to the outcomes mentoring has on both employees and organisations. With many organisations directly looking to improve the wellness of their employees whilst ensuring increased satisfaction, implementing a mentoring program is becoming more and more compelling. But where do you start? Building a thriving mentoring program is all about having great organisation skills and having a bulletproof plan in place. When starting a program, many factors need to be considered, such as the who, what, where, when and how. This article will supply you with everything you need to know about delivering an effective mentoring program and the steps you need to take to make it happen.

Step 1: Defining your purpose and goals

The first step for any organisation looking to implement a mentoring program is specifying the purpose and goals of the program itself. Whether the objective is to boost employee retention or to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, there are diverse purposes of mentoring programs. You just need to find the purpose that works best for your organisation.

When establishing the goals, it’s important to understand the needs and wants of the mentors and mentees taking part. It’s necessary to introduce a program that will not only be advantageous for the organisation but those involved. Having straightforward, measurable and obtainable goals in place, ensured that the mentees have precise targets whilst allowing leadership to understand the significance a mentoring program brings to the organisation. To have a prosperous mentoring program, here are some questions you should think about:

  • What outcomes are you looking to achieve from this mentoring program?
  • What objective does it solve within the organisation?
  • What problems are the organisation facing and how can a mentoring program solve them?
  • Where are the mentors and mentees in their professional journey?
  • Are there developmental needs the program will address?
  • What are your employees looking for?
  • What does success look like for participants and the organisation?
  • What value do we want to add as an organisation?

Step 2: Design details

Once you have a straightforward version of the purpose and goals of your mentoring program, it’s now time to plan and work out the design details of your program as a whole. Studies show that effective mentoring programs are both structured and flexible, as they are more useful at helping mentoring needs across an organisation.

Tip: It’s vital to clearly define and understand the type of mentoring that will take place within your organisation. There are various types of mentoring, each with its benefits for those involved. Whether your organisation will conduct group mentoring, reverse mentoring or even peer mentoring, you need to undoubtedly comprehend the needs of participants. There are miscellaneous ways mentoring programs can take place within an organisation, to make it clear to your employees, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • How long will mentoring relationships last?
  • How will participants sign-up?
  • What are the necessities of participants?
  • How many mentors and mentees will there be?
  • How will mentoring relationships be constructed?
  • Is the program open or closed?
  • What type of mentoring will you use?
  • How will you promote your program?
  • What resources do you require?
  • What is expected from mentors and mentees?
  • Are there any KPI’s you want to accomplish as an organisation?
  • How will you gauge the success of the program?
  • What policies and procedures will you have in place to assist the program?
  • Who will manage the program?

Step 3: Attracting and onboarding participants

Without program promotion, onboarding and training, even the most thought out and well-planned programs will gradually become a sinking ship. When planning a mentoring program, one of the key challenges faced is that at first, there is always genuine enthusiasm when programs are introduced into the workplace, however, this doesn't always result in high engagement and participation rates.

To ensure your program is as effective and successful as possible, attracting and onboarding participants is key. Your employees and participants need to be guaranteed that mentoring is beneficial to their lives and worth the time and effort involved with building fruitful mentoring relationships. To assure onboarding and attracting participants runs as smooth as possible, here are our top 3 tips:

Training and resources

When starting a new mentoring program within an organisation, it’s crucial to deliver training and resources to all participants that are both informative, educational and engaging to read. For many taking part in the organisational mentoring program, it's likely that this is their first time being in an official mentoring relationship and therefore need to have an insight into not only the goals of the program itself but also the responsibilities they need to undertake, the best mentoring practices and ways to ensure they are guaranteed to have the best experience possible. Constructing and distributing these resources will make participants feel more enthusiastic and committed to taking part in the program and more likely to sign up if you can show the value it will bring.

Communicate the importance and benefits to participants

When it comes to mentoring, there is no denying that the benefits are highly impressive, proving extremely advantageous for both personal and professional development. The benefits to an organisation are becoming increasingly well known, but you can’t assume that your participants will know about them. When setting up a mentoring program and attracting participants it's paramount to showcase the advantages mentoring can have to all involved. From participants to stakeholders, it's essential that the value is shared across the organisation as a whole.

Reward and recognise your participants

Understanding the factors that can affect participation plays a crucial role in the overall success of the program. Once you're able to recognise them, you can start to analyse and find resolutions to ease the challenges that could be faced by participants. Every individual has diverse challenges that they face and should feel able to express their concerns freely. Are participants incapable of attending because of time constraints? Do they only feel comfortable working in a group? It’s important to identify the factors that would lower participation rates. Once participants feel recognised and listened to, you should also focus on rewarding participants. By rewarding and recognising, you’ll end up with highly engaged participants which in the long run attract new individuals to join the program.

Step 4: Pairing mentors and mentees

Step 4 is a crucial part of running a flourishing program, which is paring up participants of the program. Once you’ve mastered the art of attracting and onboarding participants (hopefully by using the tips listed above), an important factor you need to decide upon is how your organisation plans to match mentors and mentees.

Paring is one of the most difficult and strategically focused parts of preparing a mentoring program due to all participants having a wide spectrum of needs, backgrounds, experience and skills. During the original planning stages of your mentoring program (see step 1) it’s likely that you were able to specify how you plan to pair participants within your organisation. There are assorted ways in which mentors and mentees can be brought together from self-matching to admin-matching, however, it’s important to recognise that what works for one individual might not work for everyone else. Matching participants doesn’t need to be a treacherous process and should be an exciting time to see relationships blossom, remember, if you’re planning to do all matching manually then it may take a considerable amount of time and resources depending on the size of the organisation, it also means that pairing participants can become more complex. Using mentoring software to run a program makes everything more manageable, with organisations such as PushFar aiding the pairing process, having the capability to pair participants through an algorithm in a matter of seconds.

Step 5: training participants

Mentoring doesn't just occur, and as noted previously, multiple of your participants are likely to have been a part of an official mentoring relationship in the past. It’s significant to train mentors and mentees before launching the program, informing them on the expectations of their role, the objectives of the program, mentoring best practices and how to support their mentor or mentee. Training participants within a mentoring program isn’t just a one-time thing and should be something that is done regularly to assure participants get the most out of the program and have the best experience imaginable. This can be done by sending organisational wide emails with tips and tricks, holding training sessions and asking leadership to speak to their employees.

Knowing what and when to train mentors can prove a hard task and so PushFar has set up free, hour-long monthly training sessions where individuals can learn about what to expect from mentoring, how mentoring can be used for career development, goal setting and progression. You can find out more here.

Step 6: Measuring the success of your program

The final stage of running a mentoring program within an organisation is being able to calculate the success of the program as a whole and comparing it to the goals and objectives set during the initial stages of execution. The main goal for any mentoring program is to be successful and beneficial for all participants involved, whilst being advantageous to the organisation. But where do you even begin? Well, you need to measure it. Listed below are our top 4 tips on how you can measure and track the success of the program:

Engagement rates

Engagement rates are a popular and wonderful way to gauge the success and value the mentoring program has brought to the organisation.

When looking at the engagement rates of a mentoring program, here are some things you should consider:

  • The number of relationships formed
  • The number of relationships formed
  • Active participants
  • The number of hours spent mentoring
  • The number of assignments assigned
  • The number of messages sent

Measuring employee satisfaction

A straightforward but practical way to measure the success of anything is to simply ask your participants what they thought of the experience as a whole. You can then use this data to make further modifications to the program in the future or discover resolutions to the challenges encountered. There are many ways you can collect employee feedback from organisational surveys to having a meeting where mentors and mentees can attend. Remember, you need to produce a space where participants feel they can openly share their feedback, this helps reduce biased opinions and allows the program to prosper in the future.

Participant progress

When starting a mentoring relationship, it’s advised that participants establish goals with their mentor. This enables you as an organisation to truly measure the accomplishments of the program whilst allowing participants to feel accomplished and satisfied. This can be done by:

  • Tracking the number of goals set
  • Seeing how many participant goals have been accomplished
  • Collecting feedback from participants
  • The timeline for meeting the goals

Organisational factors
In the initial planning stages of starting a mentoring program, goals and objectives would have been set. This is a beneficial way to gain insight into your mentoring efforts, although the goals are unique to each organisation and thus results need to be gauged differently. For instance, a program for improving employee retention would have opposing goals than a program for increasing diversity. However, some key KPIs you can track are:

  • Employee retention
  • Employee engagement
  • Participation rates
  • Promotion rates
  • Employee satisfaction

Final thoughts

There are many ways and approaches mentoring programs can take place within an organisation or for personal development. Enforcing a mentoring program takes a lot of work, but the advantages overshadow any resources invested to make it happen. If you want your mentoring program to become successful and allow participants to experience the importance of mentoring, we hope that these steps help you and make the process smoother and fruitful.

If you want to learn more about how mentoring can be a powerful asset within your organisation, you can book a free demonstration with PushFar today. Working with hundreds of organisations across the globe and over 65,000 members on our open network, we know a thing or two about building mentoring relationships that transform lives and organisations.
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