Mentoring Software: The Ultimate Guide - What, Why & How it Works
Mentoring software can significantly improve the success of mentoring programs. Find out what it is, how it works and how it can benefit your organisation.
Mentoring has grown significantly in the last few years as a popular tool for individuals and organisations to develop and progress effectively, both professionally and personally. But what is it, what does mentoring software do and how does it all work? Well, as world-leaders in mentoring and with a global community of tens of thousands of mentors and mentees, we at PushFar thought we would take some time to put together the ultimate guide to mentoring software. So, here you go...
What is Mentoring?
Before we go too far, let’s set out the basics and explain what mentoring really is. Mentoring is the act of one individual sharing their knowledge, skills and/or experience, to help another individual to progress. This can either be professionally, personally, or both. Typically, when we look at organisations and businesses who offer their employees and staff mentoring, we are looking at the professional and career mentoring piece. However, given the uplift in personal development and mental health awareness, we’re seeing a greater cross-over between professional and personal lives.
Who Can Mentor?
The short answer is that ANYONE can be a mentor. Anyone who possesses skills, experience, or knowledge that another individual would find beneficial and is willing to share, can be a mentor. There are no formal qualifications, and, unlike coaching, mentoring takes a more informal approach, with expectations and agendas set by the mentor and the mentee (the individual being mentored). This is partly why we’re so obsessed and in love with mentoring – it’s accessible and should be open to everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case but at PushFar our mission is to change that.
How Does Mentoring Work?
Mentoring is extremely flexible, which is one of the great benefits and attractions to it. Unlike coaching and a lot of e-learning tools, mentoring and how it works is usually defined by the mentor and the mentee, together. A mentee often leads the conversation, based on what they are looking to gain and how they are looking at their career progression, but not always.
Mentoring typically lasts for 6-12 months but, again, not always. Some mentoring relationships last for years or even decades and ‘flash’ or ‘bite-sized’ mentoring can be as short as a one-off meeting.
At the start of the mentoring relationship, it is recommended that both individuals lay out the ground rules, expectations, goals and aims for the mentorship, as this provides a solid foundation, from which mentoring can then thrive. Within the introductory meeting, the mentor and mentee should discuss things like the frequency of meetings (a good place to start here is a monthly meeting) and what experience the mentor has.
Then, after the introductory meeting has taken place, it’s a case of scheduling regular meetings, setting and tracking goals, supporting the mentee in their development and exploring additional career opportunities and guidance within the relationship.
What is Mentoring Software?
As established above, mentoring has a number of elements to it. And so, these software solutions are there to help support with all aspects to running, managing and reporting on mentoring activities.
In short, it is technology, typically used by mentors and mentees, and administered and managed by HR and L&D (Learning & Development) managers, to take the manual and resource-heavy elements out of mentoring. The technology focuses on helping to streamline the processes around mentor matching, in the first instance. Making sure the right mentors and mentees are matched, based on algorithms that look at skills, experience, location, and a number of additional considerations.
Once mentors and mentees are matched, the software helps individuals to manage their mentoring relationships by taking action such as setting goals, scheduling meetings, logging notes and interacting with others within the mentoring programmes and schemes. At the same time mentoring platforms and software like PushFar send automated reminder and ‘nudge’ communications, to ensure mentors and mentees stay on track and engaged with progress.
Finally, it can help to log and track mentoring feedback, report on KPIs such as mentor engagement and goal setting and give HR and L&D teams visual and impactful insights into mentoring, to understand true effectiveness.
How Does Mentoring Software Work?
As established above, mentoring has a number of elements to it. And so, mentoring software and mentoring platforms are there to help support with all aspects to running, managing and reporting on mentoring activities.
PushFar’s mentoring platform is trusted by tens of thousands of mentors and mentees and hundreds of globally leading brands and organisations. Below is an outline of PushFar’s software and the key steps to it.
Software like this is typically cloud-based, meaning that it is hosted and managed by the organisation distributing and licencing it. This is the case with PushFar and our licences include access to our web-based mentoring platform, our iOS and Android mobile applications too, alongside training for mentors and mentees.
1. Setting up an Organisation
The first step to creating a successful mentoring program and using PushFar is setting up an organisation with their own custom preferences, branding, and configuration. This configuration looks at various elements to a mentoring scheme, such as fixed-term or flexible mentoring, mentor/mentee-led matching, administrator-led mentor matching, feedback capture, privacy settings and potentially sub-groups within our software too (such as specific focal mentoring groups for diversity and inclusion, top talent, graduate schemes, etc.).
Once all of this is setup, an organisation has full access to their own administration panel to control, report on and monitor all the mentoring activities within the organisation.
2. Inviting Mentors and Mentees to Join
Believe it or not, there are several different ways an individual can join PushFar’s platform. Administrators can manually add mentors and mentees to a scheme or programme, bulk-import them via an excel or CSV file, invite them to register with a custom registration URL or integrate directly with Single Sign-On (SSO), in order to further streamline the entire process. Once invited to join, mentors and mentees can setup their profile.
A profile can include mentoring preferences, such as the capacity a mentor has to mentor more than one person, their experience, previous roles, their location, and their own goals. Whilst, a mentee can list what they’re seeking from a mentor.
3. Finding Mentoring Matches
PushFar goes above and beyond a simple 1-to-1 match (although if you really want that, you can configure it within the admin panel). We suggest the five best mentoring matches for both mentors and mentees, based on a range of data and criteria. We look at keywords within individuals’ profiles, specifically indicated areas where a mentor can offer help and support against the same areas that a mentee has indicated they are looking for support in (and these can be customised by each organisation), location, availability and an element of machine learning to continually explore and improve matches.
Both mentors and mentees can request a corresponding individual as a mentor or mentee and when sending the request, they can set parameters for the length of the mentoring relationship, the frequency of meetings and the overall objective or agenda for the mentoring relationship.
At the same time, some organisations prefer to manage the matches at administrator level. This is entirely possible too and can be done via the admin panel.
4. Managing a Mentoring Relationship
Once a mentor and mentee have been matched, either by requesting and accepting the matching process themselves, or having been matched by a mentoring programme administrator, it is time for the mentor and mentee to begin their mentoring relationship.
This typically starts with an introductory meeting. The introductory meeting, as mentioned earlier, is really important for mentoring and we’d recommend that it covers off the following points:
- The expectations that the mentee has of the mentor
- The expectations that the mentor has of the mentee
- The goals and objectives of the mentee
- The experience that the mentor has and their relevance to the mentoring relationship
- The frequency of meetings between the mentor and mentee (we’d recommend a monthly meeting as a good starting point here)
- The length of the mentoring relationship (again, we’d recommend 6-months to begin with and this can always be extended at a later date)
5. Setting Reminder and ‘Nudge’ Communications
One piece of feedback we found, time and time again, whilst researching the ‘pain points’ and challenges that HR and learning teams face in running mentoring programmes and schemes is the engagement to them. Typically, mentoring starts with a lot of engagement, enthusiasm and excitement. However, 3 or 4 months down the line, this engagement dissipates in several cases and it’s often for no good reason other than priorities and simply ‘forgetting’ to stay on top of mentoring. Understandably too, given how busy we all are in the working world.
However, this is just one of the fantastic benefits of mentoring software like PushFar. The engagement piece is entirely automated with fully customisable trigger communications and emails. These emails will send reminders to those mentors and mentees who haven’t scheduled a meeting in the last month or are overdue a goal they’ve set. These reminder emails, combined with push notification reminders, create a substantial uplift in engagement for mentoring on an ongoing basis.
6. Monitoring Mentoring Activity, Engagement and KPIs
For administrators and mentoring managers of schemes, mentoring software is the perfect way to keep track of activity, engagement and KPIs within a scheme. The administration panel within PushFar’s mentoring platform gives a wide-range of reporting functionality of those who are matched, their activity, such as the last time they scheduled a meeting and the overall total number of meetings that they’ve scheduled and attended, feedback and engagement over time.
Through this reporting, mentoring can go further than ever before. Without this technology, it is extremely difficult to truly understand what is happening after a mentor and mentee have been matched. Through PushFar, this all becomes far clearer and the insights can help boost ongoing mentoring activity and lead to even more success.
7. Capturing Mentoring Feedback
As well as tracking and monitoring ongoing mentoring activity, mentoring software can help to easily capture mentoring feedback from both mentors and mentees, at certain stages within a mentoring relationship.
By default, PushFar’s platform captures feedback at the end of the mentoring relationship, but, again, this can be changed to capture feedback at certain points of time such as on a quarterly basis. To continually gather together more data and understand outcomes of mentoring in even more detail.
So, there you have it, an overview of mentoring software, how PushFar’s mentoring platform works and how it can help you to streamline mentoring schemes in your organisation.
Whether you’re looking at mentoring to improve employee engagement and retention, boost diversity and inclusion initiatives, provide further employee support and training or simply to encourage a more proactive learning culture, we are here to help, from as little as a cup of coffee per person per month! If you’re not running a scheme yet or you’re limiting mentoring to certain segments of your organisation, it’s time to schedule a call with us and transform your mentoring.
Click here to request a demo of PushFar’s platform and let us help you to create a successful mentoring scheme and ongoing learning culture. We’re excited to hear from you!
Still not convinced? Here’s what one of our clients said recently-
“PushFar is an excellent platform which not only supports colleagues with their personal and professional development, but helps encourages cross departmental collaboration, better understanding of the wider business functions and in turn will enhance colleague retention. We are delighted with the whole PushFar experience to date and are genuinely excited by the resultant benefits and impact it will have on our business and colleagues.” - Carmanah Mackenzie, HR Officer, Arbuthnot Latham