From the Hotline: Guidance on Developing a Mentorship Program

Question: What guidance or templates can you provide relevant to implementing a mentorship program?

Answer: When considering the implementation of a mentoring program, there are many components that are critical to the foundation for success of the program.

Specifically, what is the primary goal or objective of the program? Is the intent to onboard new employees by accelerating their productivity, ease their assimilation into the business for retention and “culture” purposes, or to aid individuals in determining a personal long term career growth strategy? In all scenarios, the success of the program is to truly define these key steps:

1. Determine mentorship program goals and objectives.

2. Outline measurements that will determine program success. For example, if a new hire takes approximately 108 days to be truly productive and the goal is to minimize this window by 48 days, what metrics will be used to determine the success of the program?

3. Interview and select mentors through a process that determines invested interest by the mentor to truly participate in the active growth of another person.

4. Develop the key success factors and process by which the mentors can coach mentees about the company culture, values, goals and strategies. Ensure mentors are well trained on the program goals and specifics as well as guidelines and additional management tools to assist the mentees during the program.

5. Create a reporting program/sheet for the mentor program that tracks progress and success, or alerts others of positive activities as well as neutral or negative outcomes. Consider the following:

a. Outline names, dates, actions, discussion dates, mentor’s notes, and goals for the next meeting. This would be completed and updated at every meeting between the mentor and mentee.

b. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented, and time-bound.

c. Develop the reporting tool that works best in your environment, including ones that may be developed to track performance goals.  Using your company standards is likely the most ideal approach.

6. Establish regular meetings between the mentor and mentee, and between the program manager and mentor.

7. The program manager should check in on the mentee twice during the first month, and monthly or bi-monthly thereafter to ensure that the relationship is productive and that the mentor is supporting the mentee as needed. Some mentees may require additional time; this could be indicative of a mentor that is not properly trained or ready to mentor, or a mentee that is not quite ready for mentorship or personal growth. It is the program manager’s responsibility to oversee and monitor this and make adjustments as may be necessary. A mentorship should never have more than two mentors in any one given mentor timeframe. If there is ever a need to assign more than two mentors, it is likely indicative of several concerns; the mentors are not properly trained or invested, the program has gaps in its structure, or the mentee is not yet ready for such a program.

8. Selecting the mentee includes determining if the individual is coachable, has desire for growth, and acknowledges gaps that are holding the individual back from being successful.

9. Mentoring requires extracurricular work on both parties; the organization should acknowledge this and provide ample time for the mentorship to grow and produce within reason as relevant to each relationship and defined objectives. In other words, every mentorship is not an exact science and will typically require a stated timeline by the program manager and mentor, which is then accepted or negotiated with the mentee.

10. The closing of any mentorship should entail a complete conversation of what did and did not work through the program by all parties, documenting the results, and scoring the mentor to determine if the individual is an ideal mentor for future relationships. Additionally, scoring and determining if the mentee is willing to develop towards a mentorship role in the future will define if the mentee found the experience to be valuable and understands the benefit of the program.