Learning & Development

Step-by-Step: How to Design an Effective Mentorship Program (Part 2)

  [Part 1 of this article appeared in the previous issue.]
Here are four more steps to take when designing an effective mentorship program.

Step 4—Carefully Select Key Elements During Your Planning Process

When designing and planning your mentorship program, you’ll want to carefully select its key elements, such as:

  • How participants will be enrolled in the program and for how long
  • What types of mentoring styles will be encouraged (long-term and traditional mentor/mentee relationships, interdepartmental apprenticeships, quick and sporadic advice-giving, reverse mentoring, etc.)
  • How participants will connect, and how often (once a week via meeting, per project, in group settings once a month, etc.)
  • What type of reporting or progress tracking will be required, if any

Step 5—Attract the Right Participants via Promotions

Once you know the key elements of your mentorship program and who your ideal participants are, don’t assume they’ll automatically understand the benefits of the program and why they should participate or that they’ll just discover your program by chance. To attract ideal mentors and mentees alike, craft promotions for each audience detailing how it will benefit them and what they can expect. Don’t just send out a simple e-mail once and expect your mentorship program to gain a lot of traction and remain effective. Host live webcasts, post videos and animated slide shows, share interviews of previous participants, and ask managers and other leaders across your organization to help you promote the program, too.

Step 6—Execute Best Practices When Pairing Participants

When pairing mentors with mentees:

  • Create detailed user profiles that highlight career interests, unique talents or hobbies, alma mater, etc.
  • Allow participants to self-select their own mentor or mentee when possible. Or, have a detailed method for matching candidates based on things like mentoring styles and user profiles.
  • Consider communication styles, preferences, and personality traits when pairing participants. For instance, some mentees may seek career advice specific to a certain field, while others want their mentor to be more like a coach who helps them reach broader career goals. And some mentors may have different leadership styles and desired methods for connecting with their mentees (i.e., coffee meetings vs. sporadic phone calls).

Step 7—Offer Support and Feedback

Mentors and mentees alike may have no clue what they should be doing once they’re paired or may run into unexpected obstacles at times. Offer participants insight into how they can help each other continually strengthen their relationship by creating a framework for their relationship from the start. Share ideas for icebreakers, examples of questions to ask, fun exercises they can complete, information on how they can set goals and monitor progress, etc. In addition, you’ll want to check in with each pair regularly to see how their relationship is developing and to offer help or guidance when needed. You should solicit them for feedback often, too, so you can continue to offer materials, guidelines, and any other support they may need. You can also use their feedback to continuously improve your mentorship program for future participants.
If you follow the seven steps above, your mentorship program will be designed for success.