How to build a mentoring program in the workplace

Written by
Femme Palette
Published on
August 25, 2022

Are you thinking about launching a mentoring program in your company?In the past years, we have been improving and evolving our mentoring program to make sure our mentees and mentors have a great experience. Based on our experience, we have put together a structure that you should be following for a successful launch of your mentoring program. You can use this article as an employee mentoring program template.

Structure is the key when building a workplace mentoring program

If you want to be able to track the success of the program, it’s important to give it some structure. Your job is not only to help mentees find the right mentor, but you also have to make sure they get something out of the mentoring sessions. Structure helps give clarity to the mentees and mentors about what is the commitment and what to expect. 

When creating a structure of the mentoring program, you should think about: 

  • Duration: How long do you want the program to take to complete? Mentoring is about building a long-term relationship based on trust, so the program should also be long-term and take between at least 3 and 12 months. 
  • Format: Do you want the program to run locally, or do you want to open it up to everyone in your company? You might think that mentoring sessions should happen in person in order to build a better relationship with the mentor and for both sides to open up to each other, however, nowadays people are used to remote mentoring sessions as well. It’s always good to ask the mentees and mentors about their preferences when you create the matches.
  • Focus: The beauty of a mentoring program is that it can be focused on various topics. You can launch different types of mentoring for your workplace, such as focused on leadership development, where you open up the program to managers, or talent development focused on helping your employees grow in their roles, or diversity mentoring when you select an underrepresented group in your company and offer mentoring to them. Selecting a focus of the program gives the mentees and mentors an exact idea what they should expect in the program. 

Selecting the right candidates 

When you define the structure of the program, you should first look for the right mentors for it. You don’t want to end up with having many mentees interested in the program and only a few people ready to mentor.

  • How to select the mentors for the mentoring program

Mentors are people who either want to help someone in their careers because there was someone who helped them when they were starting out, or they want to gain skills by mentoring someone. No matter what the reason, you should check their motivation in the application process. The easiest way is to create an application for the mentors where you ask about their motivation, and a list of their skills and areas that they can help the mentee with. 

  • How to select mentees for the mentoring program 

Similarly as to the mentors, the mentee’s motivation is very important. The best results are seen when the mentees apply to the program because they want to, and not because somebody told them. It’s important to select the mentees carefully in the application process, so that they are committed and they are not disrespectful of the mentor’s time. In the application process, you should ask the mentees about their motivation and areas that they want to get better in. You can also ask about their ideal mentor profile so that you can find a mentor match that fits their expectations. 

How to find the right mentor-mentee match

In order to make the mentor-mentee match successful, you have to set some criteria in the application process. The best way is to ask a similar question in the application form for the mentors (What can you help your mentee with?), and similarly ask the mentee (What do you need help with?). Knowing this information, you can find the right match. 

Here are a couple more matching criteria that you can use in the application forms: 

  1. Mentoring focus (Leadership, Soft skills, Hard skills, Career growth, Promotion, etc.)
  2. Years of experience (Some mentees might request someone very senior, or someone junior for reverse mentoring)
  3. Ideal mentor profile 
  4. Preferred department at work (Some mentees might prefer to be connected with someone closer to their daily job, some might prefer to talk to an “outsider”)
  5. Gender (For example some female mentees might be more comfortable opening up to another woman)
  6. Format of the session (Some mentees might prefer meeting their mentor in-person)

Measuring the impact of the mentoring sessions and success of the program

In order to build a successful mentoring program, you have to measure the impact of mentoring. For example, you can encourage the mentees to set goals that they want to achieve in mentoring. This can be done via the SMART goals framework and it’s something that you can also require in the application process. This way, the mentees and mentors know what they should focus on and what success looks like. The mentoring goals will help guide the conversation, and at the end of the program, you will know if the mentees reached the goals or not. This can be one of your metrics for measuring the impact of the mentoring sessions and the whole program. 

There are other ways  to measure the impact of the program. In the application process, you can ask the mentees to evaluate the skills that they will be focusing on in mentoring. You can track how the skills are being improved overtime by collecting regular feedback and asking for a final assessment. 

Areas of tracking the success of mentoring program can be: 

  1. Achievement of the SMART goals
  2. Skills evaluation
  3. Satisfaction with the program 
  4. Satisfaction with the mentor
  5. Number of mentoring sessions 

Helping mentees and mentors succeed 

Many of the mentees and mentors might be doing mentoring for the first time. You should ensure that both sides know what to expect from mentoring. You can either create a resource that will be available throughout the program, or you can organize a kick-off event for the mentees and separately for the mentors where you walk both sides through the program and set the expectations right. 

A resource for mentees should answer the following questions
  1. What should I discuss with my mentor 
  2. How to create a trusting relationship with my mentor 
  3. How to give feedback to my mentor 
  4. What makes a good mentee
A resource for mentors should answer the questions
  1. What’s mentoring and what is it not (Mentoring vs Coaching)
  2. How to structure the mentoring sessions
  3. What to share during the mentoring sessions
  4. How to help mentees define and set up SMART goals

Some mentors might be experienced and won’t need guidance, but you should make sure that everyone knows their role in mentoring to make the program successful.

Promoting the program within the organization 

So you got everything ready to launch an employee mentoring program in your workplace, but how do you get people interested in becoming a mentor or mentee? Some potential mentors might need convincing why they should become a mentor.  You can for example throw a Mentoring 101 event where you explain what mentoring is, and what benefits there are for the mentees, as well as the mentors. If you know someone who has experience with mentoring, invite them to share that during the event. It’s always better to hear it from someone who has been through mentoring before. Such an event can help you create a buzz and get people talking about the program. In combination with the event, you can also ask the managers for help by nominating people that they work with to become either mentors or mentees. 

We hope this template for building a mentoring program will help you create a successful mentoring program in your workplace. If you don’t have enough mentors, or would like to explore the benefits of external mentoring program, or have questions about building your mentoring program, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

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