BoardWorks has recently been engaged to support a public sector organization’s development of a formal mentoring program. People are an organization’s most important resource. Workplace mentoring programs offer a cost-efficient way to onboard new talent, develop existing talent and implement seamless leadership succession.
Formal mentoring programs also offer benefits such as:
- Enhancing employee engagement and retention
- Enhancing organizational diversity through the retention of women and minority employees
- Knowledge sharing, and
- Employer branding.
Elements of a Successful Mentoring Program
In order to be successful, a Mentoring Program needs to:
- Have effective program leadership
- Have clear objectives
- Be well-designed to meet those objectives
- Include effective program promotion, mentor recruitment and training
- Have a good process for matching mentors and mentees
- Support the mentoring relationships through education and helpful resources
- Evaluate its impact at individual and organizational levels
- Have strong support from the organization’s leadership and be adequately resourced
There should be a designated Program Manager for the Mentoring Program who is responsible and accountable for the successful implementation of the Mentoring Program. It is also beneficial to establish a small but representative Steering Committee to help design, champion and evaluate the Program.
The starting point for any Mentoring Program begins with two important questions:
1. Why are you starting this Program?
2. What does success look like for the participants and the organization?
We facilitate conversations about these questions and help organizations gain clarity on their specific objectives for a formal Mentoring Program. These objectives will provide a critical foundation for the design and evaluation of the Mentoring Program.
There are many program design questions to be considered in the development of a mentoring program. They include:
- Who will be eligible to participate?
- How do employees gain access to the program?
- How many mentoring matches can be supported?
- Will the mentors be internal/external or a combination?
- How will mentors be recruited/recognized?
- How will the matching be done?
- How will mentorship training be delivered – in/house or externally?
- How long should a mentoring experience be?
- How can the mentors/mentees be supported during the program?
- How will the program be celebrated as a means of creating interest?
We work with Program leaders to consider important design questions and then document the answers to those questions in the form of Mentoring Program descriptions, templates and forms.
Program Promotion and Mentor Recruitment
Employees will need to know about the Mentoring Program and how it works. It will be important to “create a buzz” about the Mentoring Program to encourage employees to participate in it. Similarly, potential mentors will also need information about the Program.
There will also need to be a process for selecting mentees, recruiting mentors and then identifying good mentee/mentor matches. We will work with the Mentoring Program leadership to define these important processes.
Mentorship Education and Support
Successful mentorship programs include a good education program for mentees and mentors. They also include access to helpful resources and program peers. BoardWorks helps clients to define the learning needs of mentors/mentees, develop foundational educational content for the Mentoring Program and identify potential resources and program peer interaction opportunities.
Finally, mentorship programs are measured and evaluated at two levels: (a) individual participant and (b) organization. We help clients to identify the right metrics and evaluation methods to support the ongoing improvement of the Mentoring Program.