Effective workplace mentoring programs are important employee development tools. Mentors are experienced employees who provide advice, instruction, introductions and opportunities for growth and development to junior or inexperienced employees. Successful workplace mentoring programs require structure, training and ongoing attention to benefit the mentors, protégés and the company.
Planning a Mentoring Program
Before implementing a workplace mentoring program, determine if there is a need for it and if management will support it. Make sure mentoring will contribute to business objectives and strategy and that top management will participate in mentoring and authorize money and time for it. Determine expectations for the program and carefully align the mentoring program with the company’s business objectives with things such as a philosophy statement aligned with the company’s mission statement. Determine the target group for mentoring, such as new hires and employees who have worked with the company for two years and are identified for development or interns. Develop a marketing and communication plan for the program and publicize it on the company website and in recruiting materials.
Mentoring Program Participants
In “Designing Workplace Mentoring Programs,” Tammy Allen and Lisa Finkelstein explain that mentor programs with voluntary mentors seem to have a more positive effect on protégés than those where mentors are required to participate. Making participation in your workplace mentoring program voluntary or involuntary depends on the objectives of the program. For example, a mentoring program for new hires to introduce them to company culture, the industry that the company does business in and vendors and clients may be more successful as a mandatory program, while a program to assist employees who want to advance in their careers may be more effective if offered voluntarily to motivated employees.
Incorporate training into your workplace mentoring program to prepare mentors and protégés and support program structure and organization. Train on basic topics such as what mentoring is and what it is not, the objectives of the mentoring program, roles of mentors and protégés, mentoring relationship structure and boundaries and how to give and receive effective feedback. Also include training on the mentoring program’s specific objectives and structure, such as how to use mentoring tools like company databases and systems, how to participate in the program and how to use resources.
Monitor and Evaluate
Include ongoing monitoring and evaluation to ensure participants are happy with their progress, to measure effectiveness and progress toward program goals and to get information about how to make improvements. Use participant surveys, a program coordinator to check in with participants and record keeping such as participant lists and mentoring activity checklists.
- Designing Workplace Mentoring Programs; Tammy D. Allen et al.
- The Blackwell Handbook of Mentoring; Tammy D. Allen and Lillian T. Ebby
- The Handbook of Mentoring at Work; Belle Rose Ragins and Kathy E. Kram
- Creating a Mentoring Culture; Lois J. Zachary
Heidi Cardenas specializes in human resources, business and personal finance, small-business advice, home and garden and home improvement. Her professional background includes human resources and business administration, technical writing and corporate communications. She has studied horticulture and business administration, and enjoys guest blogging for publications including Herb Companion Magazine, Natural Home Living Magazine, and Mother Earth Living.