Mentorships have a huge impact on productivity and strengthen relationships among colleagues. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, two of the top things employees want are professional development and ownership of their work. Ultimately, mentoring leads to higher retention and lower turnover, which is why a quarter of all US companies now use mentorships.
But that’s only if the program is effective. Here are four tips for how to create mentorship programs that will help employees and the company:
This is especially important if you don’t already have a program in place. Inform all employees about the start of the program, what it will include, and why it’s important. Be as specific as possible.
For example, you might want to include how much time mentors and mentees will spend together each week. You’ll also want to consider if mentees will only be new employees or if experienced employees will also be included.
The goals for each mentorship should be different depending on the person. For a new employee, learning the ropes will be the purpose of the mentorship. This will include concrete objectives. Does the employee understand their new responsibilities? Do they know what resources are available? Have they been clued into all the useful institutional knowledge their mentor has?
For those in leadership mentorships, the goals will be different. These will probably be longer-term mentorships that may include shadowing current leaders. Nevertheless, creating objectives for these mentorships is crucial as well.
If HR doesn’t have goals for the program, it’s hard for the mentors to take it seriously. Their time is precious, so they’ll only put in the requisite effort if the program is going to strengthen the team.
Also, there should be careful consideration of matching mentors and mentees. It’s not just about who knows the new employee’s job best. A personality clash in this relationship can cause the program to backfire. The last thing you want to do is alienate new employees. If employees understand exactly what’s expected of them and the reasons why they’re doing it, the program is likely to succeed.
Have conversations with mentors and mentees about the program. Keep the list of overall objectives for mentorships handy. Is it improving relationships among colleagues? Are new employees more productive? Taking stock will help determine whether you need to tweak or overhaul anything.
Mentorship isn’t a silver bullet for employee engagement. But it is a tool that companies are using to help build stronger, better-connected teams. Mentorship increases institutional knowledge in two ways: by integrating new employees into the company and by increasing retention.