Are you looking to establish or refresh your new employee mentoring program? If so, please read on.
Mentors guide others during and beyond the classroom and other instructional training events. They are an extension of formal new hire training providing specific activities more suited for the on-the-job application. It also gives you the opportunity to develop your best employees in the following ways:
- Create opportunities for your high performers to be challenged and recognized
- Develop their communication and leadership skills.
- Satisfaction that they are helping staff successfully transition into new roles or skills
While I only have a few listed here in each category, the benefits demonstrate wins for everyone. Your company benefits by retaining quality staff; employees adapt to a new role at a faster pace, and you attain higher employee engagement. The mentor benefits by developing new skills, using their talents and expertise to help others which in turn keeps them more engaged. Offering mentoring opportunities is a great option when you have high performers, and struggle to find ways to motivate them. Finally, the mentee has a lifeline to help show them the ropes, work through some of the complexity of the role and gain hands-on experience while going through training. Plus it is personalized to their needs.
It is important as you develop your mentoring program that you define the mentor’s responsibilities:
Here are some of the key areas of focus that a mentor will deliver.
- Provide job-related support
- Teaches “Best ”
- Motivates and supports mentee in achieving performance goals
- Provides weekly/bi-weekly updates to mentee and direct leader
In many companies, some activities are conducted in a training environment that can be difficult to put into practice. The mentor provides that support by reinforcing and demonstrating essential functions and processes. It could be as small as having mentees log into the systems they are learning, watching for the main elements while shadowing (i.e. verifying data entry) or having them practice activities they learned in training that week. Overall, the mentor plays a key role in motivating and helping the mentee be successful in their new role.
It’s important to have a formal selection process in place before leveraging the mentoring program. At a minimum, your mentors should:
- Meet or exceed performance goals
- Like sharing their expertise and help others succeed
- Have a positive view of their position and the organization
- Already have excellent communication skills
- Be open minded, trustworthy and a confidant for mentees
While more detailed requirements are available in the mentoring guide, selecting the “right” mentors are critical to the success of your program. Mentors must be meeting or exceeding performance goals. Performance should include behaviors laid out in your corporate values and vision and mission statement. They are people that like to share their expertise and coach others. I’m sure each of you can visualize some of those folks right now. They have a positive view of the actions and changes your company is making and take pride in their work. They are open minded and trustworthy. In short – they are your high performers.
You’ll find the detailed requirements as well as an assessment application to use for those interested in becoming mentors in the mentoring guide. You’ll want to leverage both in the preparation of interviewing your potential mentors to assist you in selecting your pool of candidates.
The next step in your program is to develop the mentoring plan which will detail the activities the mentor will conduct with the mentee. There should be weekly or bi-weekly events ranging from shadowing to performing. Meaning, at times the mentee will observe and other times the mentee will be active while the mentor observes and provides feedback. Schedules are developed for each skill set/function you determine warrants a mentor in partnership with training. Both training and mentoring are critical success factors in developing your staff. These groups need to have a strong partnership to be successful. (Sample schedule included in the Mentoring Guide).
Next Steps – Implement
- Assess and select mentors
- Partner with training to develop your mentoring schedules
- Mentors complete pre-requisite training
- Hold mentoring workshop to introduce program details/conduct learning styles
- Review and complete Mentor/Mentee Agreement
- Manage activity scheduled by skill set
- Leverage journals for mentors and mentees
- Complete post-mentoring assessment
Using this solid list of the steps will set your program up for success. It doesn’t need to be perfect – adjustments are needed to fit your work and culture, but if you take the time now to get ready, the benefits will be worth it.
Note: This is an initial publication. The Mentoring Guide includes step by step instructions, templates, assessments and agreement resources.