(FOR B2B PROGRAM MANAGERS)
Mentorship programs are proven to help strengthen employee onboarding and retention, decrease learning curves, and improve company culture. Most importantly, mentorship programs increase employee happiness levels and help create an open and supportive environment where everyone feels heard and empowered.
In building your own powerhouse mentorship program, there are many variables to consider. Building a program from scratch can be daunting, but the great news is we’re here to help. Here is a step by step guide to help you build your program.
In this article, we will explore Mentorly’s “PLAN IT” guidelines, to make sure your program is successfully launched.
1. Program structure
Before deciding the structure, the first and most important step is to define the objective of your program.
🤔 What is your overarching goal?
In alignment with your company’s strategic goals, define the area that has the most room to improve or benefit from mentorship. The structure of the program will be different whether you want to welcome new remote employees with a mentor by their side or want to provide executive mentorship to the company’s current and future leaders.
Within your Mentorly portal, you can have multiple programs running at once - having an idea of the specific objectives and guidelines for each will help tremendously. By having multiple programs, you can ensure that all employees are offered the benefit of mentorship.
A program’s goal should be connected to your company’s Key Performance Indicators, or for short, KPIs. Some examples of these KPIs are: internal promotion rate, talent satisfaction, turnover rates, employee engagement, and cost per hire. Remember, mentorship has a net positive result for both the mentors and the mentees, so your outcomes can be reflective of both of their growth, not only limited to the mentees. The benefits of mentoring for mentors include reinforcing mentors' own skills and knowledge, developing their management style, and creating higher levels of overall fulfillment in the workplace.
🏗 What kind of structure would you like to create?
Since you are reading this article, you are likely the dedicated Program Manager for this mentorship program. If not, it is important that someone is assigned to this role.
The role of Program Manager is no longer such a heavy commitment thanks to the magic of Mentorly streamlining all of your tools and data in one place. However, a Program Manager is elemental to the smooth running of your program and should have a few hours a week set aside to ensure the success of your mentorship initiatives.
Now, a successful mentorship program has a few basic requirements to consider, such as the time commitment of the mentor and mentee, the length of the program, matching criteria, and so on.
Let’s evaluate mentor-mentee-matching and see a bird’s eye view of matching structures available within your Mentorly portal.
💡 What are some ways to match mentors and mentees?
One to one: Mentorly will match each mentee with one mentor. This reflects a traditional mentorship model of the master and the apprentice.
Mentor suggestions: Mentorly will suggest multiple mentors for each mentee, enabling them to decide who to connect with first. It’s also a great option for mentees seeking guidance on varying topics.
À la carte: This allows mentees to book with any mentor within a program. This is a great offering when you have a large mentee base and would like to empower mentees to feel supported within a company culture. Allowing your mentee’s to self-select shows a sense of flexibility from the company, and an acknowledgment that there are no limits to who they may be mentored by.
Program manager matching: This allows you, as the Program Manager, to create matches. Ideal for small programs, you can use your historical knowledge to generate custom matches.
While planning your mentorship program, it is very important to listen to your people.
Before choosing which types of mentors to recruit, listen to both your mentees’ and company’s needs. Sending assessment surveys is one way to get the insight you need, and we also invite you to speak directly to your employees to have a solid sense of their most pressing needs. Use past exit interviews to see the gaps in talent experience and learning & development. You can bridge those gaps by providing opportunities for growth through this new digital mentorship initiative.
Consider sending a Mentee Assessment Survey, which you can send to all mentees prior to building your program. This kind of survey is designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative data around the needs of mentees. Some areas that mentees will be looking to develop are: strategic thinking, planning, communication, networking, public speaking, and the ability to adapt. With mentee’s answers, you will be able to clearly see the areas in which they want to improve, and thus recruit mentors that have these skills and qualities.
On the other end of the equation, it is important to listen to mentee’s expectations of a program. It should be made clear that participation does not have any guaranteed outcomes. For example, participating is not a guaranteed path to promotion!
By gaining a better understanding of what your employees expect out of a program, you as a Program Manager you will have a better chance of delivering a positive experience for both mentors and mentees. As the saying goes, “You cannot achieve success if you don’t know what success looks like!”.
Select mentors and mentees who are not only willing to participate but also are excited about mentoring. There are two pillars of success when it comes to attracting participants.
🔎 Clarify expectations
Be clear about the time commitment, nature of the mentorship relationship, and other expectations for all program participants. Engagement won’t be as strong if these are unclear.
If the mentors are unsure of their willingness to mentor, you can replicate this insightful template on Mentor Assessment Quiz to measure interest, availability, and desires. Note, that if you share this link, we'll be able to see responses.
We also recommend that you create a Code of Conduct for your users to ensure that they engage with each other and the platform respectfully. You can refer to our Code of Conduct as described in section 7.
In order to attract mentees and mentors, you have to talk about your mentorship program within the company! It sounds like a no-brainer, but often programs fail because nobody knows about them.
Mentorly enables you to invite and onboard participants at any time. Have a couple of super users? Let them be your cheerleaders! If a user is loving her experience as a mentor, grab a quote from her and share it within your company. If you’re looking for external participants, be sure to be active on social media to highlight the benefits of your program - it may just help you recruit more talent!
Recruiting is the most time-demanding piece of the puzzle. We recommend setting aside 1.5 to 2 months prior to kicking off your program, to send internal and/or external communications announcing the initiative and giving interested mentors and mentees a clear call to action: SIGN UP!
Mentorship programs have 3 major players: mentors, mentees and you, the Program Manager.
As participants' needs evolve, so do their mentorship needs. Thankfully, Mentorly collects ongoing usership data, which lets you feel the pulse of your mentorship program at all times. Despite this, it is always recommended to check in on participants from time to time, sending them individual or group messages of announcements and encouragement. Without your regular participation, you may miss key interactions that require your assistance.
In the case they are not paid for their efforts, it is important to keep your mentors incentivized at all times. So, recognize your mentors! If mentors are doing a great job, speak about their contributions publicly on your website, their LinkedIn, etc. This will help them feel recognized, valued, and will encourage them to provide more mentorship.
🎉 Celebrate results
Be sure to highlight and nurture the importance of mentorship within your company, specifically among the leadership team. Speak to them about the progress and impact of your program by sharing key data and testimonials on how it is improving your overall company culture. This way, you can ensure that the program will continue to grow and support your people.
Great mentorship programs are always evolving. With Mentorly’s live data tracking and feedback from participants, don’t get stuck repeating the same exact structure program to program! Improve and expand on the exceptional parts of your program, and iterate on the elements that fell short. Great company culture is built when a workplace stays aligned with their employees needs, however they evolve.
Mentorly has been able to uncover some great improvements to programs! Here are some great adjustments you can make if your program depending on your desired outcome.
🔄 Change matching style
You may consider switching your matching style. Mentorship traditionally is based on one-to-one matching, however mentoring is evolving to fit the needs of the next generation of workers, and Mentorly’s matching styles are setting the stage for what mentorship can look like. For example, if in the first 6 months of your program you are seeing feedback that the mentees would like to meet with multiple mentors, you may want to consider from a one-on-one matching to an à la carte program.
🕺🏾 Recruit more mentors
We generally suggest that a 1:3 mentor to mentee ratio is the sweet spot where mentees are getting enough support and information from their mentors. If you have a less than a 1:3 mentor to mentee ratio, you risk the change of overwhelming your mentors with too many mentor requests which can lead to mentor churn.
📆 Extend and renew your mentorship program
Often times, mentorship programs make the mistake of only allowing a few months for connections to be made. Based on the engagement of your members, you may want to consider expanding the time in which they have to interact with their mentor. Mentorly has found that mentees need ample time to book sessions, gain insight, and put their mentor’s advice into action! With a short time frame of a mentorship program, mentee and mentor growth can be less than their full potential.
And there you have it! 🥁
You now have the information you need to kick off your mentorship program.
The great news is that Mentorly will support each step of the way. If you have a Pro or Enterprise plan, your dedicated Mentorly Success Advisor (MSA) can help you work out through these steps. If you are on a Teams Plan and feel like you could use the extra support provided by an MSA, get in touch!
Now, go forth and build your impactful, digital mentorship program like the rockstar you are! 👩🏾🎤🎸