Most mentorship programs vary from one company to the other because of the nature of the firm’s business models. Some firms prefer to run short-term programs, while other firms have much broader programs that may run for extended periods.
As an organization, it is possible to spend too much time and resources in mentorship programs. As such, it is imperative to ensure you make the most out of the programs.
Here are five significant steps you could take to make the most of your mentorship program:
1. Lay the program’s foundation
This is the first and most important part of the program. Laying the foundation correctly helps you ensure that all the important aspects are covered. Your organization’s leaders should ensure that they have set out targets for both the company and the program participants.
They should look at the gaps that exist in the organization and seek to fulfill them through the program. These gaps may include achieving sales targets, improving customer service, or transferring knowledge through various departments. Setting out the objectives also helps you to identify the resources that you might need to allocate to the program and the departments and individuals that need to participate in the program. This will act as guidance to the participants and will help them to understand what they are expected to do and gain from the program.
Laying out this foundation will also help your organization identify which participants have already achieved the required objectives, thus eliminating the need for them to participate in that program. This can help to improve efficiency by assigning those individuals who have already achieved the objectives to other programs.
2. Make the match
Once the objectives have been set out clearly, you can begin to match the various participants to the departments and individuals who can help them achieve their objectives. For example, if the objective is to equip junior employees with more knowledge, you can match them with senior and more experienced staff members. At this stage, you can also match the participants with the resources they will need to achieve their objectives. This includes things like assigning the employees more time in the field or the shop floor to learn how things operate there. Matching can also be a great opportunity to help promote harmony and collaborations between various departments.
3. Train your mentors
Training your mentors is one of the crucial steps that work to ensure that the program is a success. Remember, not everybody has teaching skills. You need to train your mentors to be able to deliver the knowledge and skills to the participants effectively.
Some of the areas that mentors may need to be trained on include:
- Communication and listening skills
- How to give constructive feedback
- How to be an inspirational leader
- Observation skills
- How to be patient and enthusiastic
- Company policies, objectives, and mission
It is also important to ensure that the mentors understand mentorship is about sharing skills, and it is a two-way learning opportunity. Mentors can also learn new skills from their mentees. Among the areas that mentors can benefit from interacting with mentees are emerging technologies, digital skills, and new social media platforms. It can also be a great opportunity for the mentors to learn how other departments work.
4. Define success and set clear timelines
Defining success involves two things: the outcome desired and the time it takes to achieve that outcome. The outcomes or goals for mentorship will depend on the department and the mentor’s experience. As long as there is a shared vision with the mentor and mentee on what the goal they are trying to achieve, then it should sufficiently meet their needs.
The second part of this is to establish how much time the participants should take to acquire certain skills and knowledge. Setting out the timeline can help you measure and track progress more accurately. Knowing what needs to be accomplished at a certain point will help you with accountability — that the participants are actually doing what they intended to do.
Setting out clearly defined goals for success and the timeline helps to give the participants a sense of urgency to complete the program and can build the necessary momentum for success.
5. Evaluate the program
It is important to note that most programs do not work perfectly the first time around. Evaluating your mentorship program helps your organization learn which areas had challenges and how to solve those challenges.
The program can also be evaluated by getting feedback from all the participants on their experience, the benefits they accrued, and their recommendations for improvement. At this point, you can also check how many of the objectives were achieved and how you can make future improvements.