Few tools are as effective at quality employee development than a mentorship program. Having a mentor in a senior role within one’s organization helps a protégé gain useful insight into the formal and informal strategies, behaviors, and qualities that can allow them to rise through the ranks and otherwise excel within the organization.
A well-run mentorship program obviously benefits the protégé, but it also benefits the company in the form of employee development, value reinforcement and succession planning; and it is generally a rewarding experience for the mentor as well.
Elements of Effective Mentoring Programs
Of course, the key qualifier here is “well-run” mentorship program. Many companies half-heartedly implement some form of mentoring initiative but fail to invest sufficient time, effort or thought to make the program worthwhile.
In an article for SmartBrief, Alaina Love discusses some “secrets to making mentoring work.” Love’s article is worth a full read, but here are the five high-level “secrets” she suggests:
- The program is inclusive and time-bound
- Trust is established quickly
- Everybody is learning – together
- Skill-building opportunities are part of the framework
- Senior management exposure is a key design component
A couple of themes are apparent in these elements of a successful mentorship program.
Drivers Behind Mentorship Success
Successful mentorship programs are designed to generate an open and trusting relationship in which meaningful personal relationships can develop. Additionally, they focus on relevant skills beneficial to the protégé and the broader organization. Finally, they encourage engagement in the mentorship program, which contributes to overall engagement with the organization and the work on the part of the employee; engagement is a key factor in morale, productivity and retention.
Mentorship programs can be a great way to develop future leaders or simply more effectively impart key corporate values and practices into relatively low-tenure staff. However, like any worthwhile initiative, mentorship programs shouldn’t be thrown together carelessly. They require that thought, care and effort be put into planning and implementation in order to ensure the best results.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor for HR Daily Advisor.