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Invest in Your Employees: How to Create a Successful Mentoring Program

Want to improve employee performance and engagement? Discover how a mentoring program can help you achieve that. Our comprehensive guide has everything you need to know.

Mentors and mentoring programs have taken center stage over the last few years. 92% of all Fortune 500 companies operate a program, with ALL Fortune 50 companies in the US running their own.

Okay, you might say, well, companies obviously want to invest in their top talent, making them feel valued and supported. It must be great for morale and productivity.

You're on the right track, but that's not all.

Studies show that employee retention rates are increased by an average of 70% in companies offering mentoring programs, 94% of employees will stay longer at a company when their development and training are invested in. Median profits are 3x times higher than in companies without.

These figures cannot be ignored, and, in today's fast-paced business world, it just goes to show the importance of companies investing in their employee's growth and development.

If you want these benefits for yourself, it's time to start thinking about how you and your business can implement your own mentoring program.

In this guide, we'll explore how to start a mentoring program that benefits both the company and its employees and help you emulate the structure that benefits some of the most successful companies in the world.

What is a Mentoring Program?

A mentoring program is a structured approach to employee development where a more experienced employee (mentor) offers guidance and support to a less experienced employee (mentee) to help them achieve their career goals.

However, in recent years, thanks to modern technology, mentors are becoming increasingly common outside the workplace. Some of the best minds, leaders, and heads of industry are available as mentors to employees worldwide.

Wherever the mentor comes from, they serve as a role model, providing advice, program feedback, and knowledge-sharing to the mentee.

What are the Benefits of a Mentoring Program?

A successful mentoring program helps employees develop new skills, improve performance and their own personal development, and increase engagement, but that's not all.

A mentoring program can be the key to unlocking your company's full potential and helping your top talent take their work to the next level.

Other mentoring program benefits include;

  • Professional Development: A mentoring program enables employees to gain knowledge and skills from experienced mentors through tailored advice, guiding them in their career paths, helping them develop their strengths, and improving their weaknesses. This leads to better job performance and career growth for the mentees.

  • Increased Engagement: Employees who feel that their company invests in their professional growth are more engaged in their work. You'll find them more proactive in what they do and are eager to work more.

Moreover, research shows that 90% of employees who are active members of successful mentorship programs report being happy in their job, meaning they're far more likely to stick around.

  • A Community Connection: A mentoring program fosters a sense of community and provides opportunities for employees to build relationships with each other and their mentors. Once again, this leads to a more engaged and committed workforce.

  • Knowledge Transfer: Experienced employees have valuable knowledge and expertise that can be shared with others. Mentoring programs allow for this knowledge transfer and ensure this skill and talent is introduced and kept within a company.

Few things are worse than having the top talent performing in your business, only to lose that experience when they inevitably retire or move on.

  • Succession Planning: A mentorship program can play a key role in succession planning by identifying and developing future leaders within the organization. It also ensures the company has a pipeline of talented and well-prepared employees to fill critical roles.

  • Improved Diversity and Inclusion: A mentorship program can help promote diversity and inclusion within the company. By pairing mentors and mentees from different backgrounds, industries, or companies, the program provides opportunities for cross-cultural communication, promotes understanding, and builds a more inclusive work environment.

How to Start a Mentoring Program Successfully

With the benefits of a mentoring program clear, it's time to start thinking about how you can create one of your own. And a successful one at that.

For the remainder of this guide, we're answering how to start a mentoring program that will deliver the best results and the highest ROI. Here's the complete step-by-step guide of what you need to know.

Identify the Needs of the Company

Before launching a mentoring program, it's essential to determine what the company wants to achieve.

After all, a mentorship program can be used for many different purposes, and your program must align with these goals to succeed.

Some questions to ask you should include;

  • What are the outcomes you want your program to have?

  • Are you trying to solve any problems within your organization?

  • What are the needs of your mentees?

  • What values do your mentees have?

  • What is your preferred definition of success for your program?

  • What kind of value are you trying to bring to your mentees and organization?

For example, if you're trying to expand into a new industry, you might need to train your talent to handle new areas of work, access new markets, and make the most of new information, in which case you'll use a mentoring program to act as a kind of onboarding process.

Similarly, you might be trying to encourage growth by bringing new, creative ideas to your company. This can be achieved by developing your mentee's skills, allowing them to see a new perspective and come up with new ideas from other areas of the industry.

If you're struggling in certain areas, you may want a leader in your company to train under another experienced industry leader, showing them the ropes and strengthening possible present weaknesses.

Either way, a company must set goals for your mentoring program and define metrics for measuring its success.

By doing so, the company can tailor the program to its specific needs and ensure that it aligns with your company's broader objectives.

You can't just try and set up a mentorship program and hope it will clear up some vague issues you think you have. The program must have direction and certainty to address what you want it to achieve.

Finding the Right Mentors

Next, you want to find the mentors you want to work with, building the foundation for a solid mentoring relationship.

Your mentor pool can come from employees already within your business or outside your company. This will tie into how you want your mentorship program to run.

Do you want your mentoring relationships to encourage one-on-one sessions where your top talent has access to industry leaders who can help guide and nurture super employees?

On the other hand, do you want your mentoring relationships to run group mentoring sessions with a single leader to help broader the flow of information throughout your company?

Will you be using mentoring software to get access to program managers on a worldwide scale, or would you prefer your mentoring relationships to be more localized?

Are you willing to start a mentoring program that's more specialized, such as peer mentoring, reverse mentoring, or flash mentoring?

Do you want to give access to experienced coaches?

You'll also want to think about your budget and what kind of resources you're working with. How many mentors do you want to take out? What key stakeholders have an interest in the program? How many program participants are you willing to work with?

Finding a particular mentor can pay dividends, so highlight individuals who enable your mentees to succeed in the best possible way through their inventory of necessary skills and mentoring experience, providing practical guidance and support.

It's a lot to consider, but these are the key questions that will help you set up successful mentoring programs and make the right choice out of your list of potential mentors.

In many cases, you might want to make space for employees to choose their own mentors, enabling them access to specialist programs for even more streamlined results. You'll want to monitor this mentoring relationship to ensure it's suitable for your company and the program is heading in the right direction, but this kind of freedom can develop exceptional results.

Selecting Your Mentees

Now comes the most important step in the process; choosing the right mentees for your program and matching mentors with each one.

Selecting suitable mentees is the key for your company to ensure your program is an effective tool for employee development.

If you select mentors that aren't engaged and don't show potential, you might be wasting your resources and time when you could be working with program participants that will truly benefit your company long term.

Here are some top tips to help large companies choose the best employees to participate in a mentoring program:

  • Identify high-potential employees: Look for employees who have shown exceptional performance, have the potential to take on more responsibility, and are eager to learn and grow in their career development.

  • Consider career goals: Look for employees who are aligned with the company's mission and have career goals that align with the organization's needs. Employees who have expressed a desire to move up the company's career ladder or want to explore a new career path are ideal candidates for a mentoring program.

  • Look for diverse candidates: Consider a diverse range of employees from different departments, job functions, and backgrounds. This can help promote diversity and inclusion within the organization and provide different perspectives on the company's challenges while developing a better mentoring relationship with both the mentor and the company.

  • Seek recommendations from managers: Consult with managers to identify employees who have demonstrated leadership potential or are willing to take on new challenges.

  • Provide employees with the opportunity to self-nominate: Employees should have the chance to express their interest in participating in a mentoring program. This can help identify motivated and committed employees to their professional development.

  • Use a structured application process: A structured application process can help identify employees with the necessary skills, experience, and motivation to participate in the program.

Structuring the Mentoring Program

To create mentoring programs that get results, it's important to determine the program's format, define the roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees, establish a timeline, and provide resources to support the program's success.

Essentially, you must also include a pre-mentoring session and a closing session that allows for understanding and clarity on the entire process.

For example, let's say you're enabling a mentoring opportunity for your company's head data lead, and they're mentored by one of Google's former data leads.

You would start with a preliminary session that allows the mentee and mentor to connect, set goals, explore the direction they want to go, set the schedule (such as meeting once a week), and allow either party to ask any questions they may have. You may also set a six-month period for the mentoring to take place.

From here, the mentoring period would begin, with regular meetings and chat sessions taking place.

At the end of the six-month period, a closing meeting will be held to discuss what happened, whether the goals were achieved, and what the steps are moving forward.

This is a simple structure, but by developing one for you, you can ensure that the program is well-structured and all participants know their goals and expectations.

This is also the stage where you can manage the expectations of both your mentors and mentees, start to monitor progress, and define how your mentorship program will work.

Launching the Program

Once the program is structured, it's time to launch.

Whether you're running group mentoring sessions or one-on-one meetings, providing the mentors internally, or allowing your team to connect with third-party mentors, communicate the program to employees, create a launch event for the program, and measure the launch's success.

Effective communication is crucial from this point on as it helps to build enthusiasm for the program and encourage participation.

Managing the Program

Once the program is launched, it's important to monitor its progress, address any issues that arise, and provide ongoing support for mentors and mentees.

Allow opportunities for mentors and mentees to approach you if they have any questions or concerns, and ensure you're addressing any issues or pain points as quickly as possible to avoid scaling problems.

If you've set metrics for the mentoring program, such as increasing sales or reaching specific training goals, you'll need to check in regularly to ensure they're being met.

However, make sure you're not micromanaging the process.

Mentors work best when they're allowed to do what they do best. Of course, you should offer support and make sure you're available to help, but don't try to control the process, blocking any creative expression and progress that can be made.

Measuring the Success of the Program

And finally, hand in hand with the consideration above, be sure to evaluate the mentoring program's success.

Ask yourself, what do the positive outcomes of your mentoring program look like to you? What does success look like to your program managers? What does a successful mentoring relationship look like?

Success is relative to your business and the set goals of your mentorship program, as we discussed earlier. Use your predetermined metrics to measure success, analyze the program results, and make improvements based on feedback from your mentors and mentees.

When setting up a mentoring program within your business, you're playing the long game and aren't just running a one-off program but gearing up for a program that can benefit your business for decades to come.


And there we have it! Your own mentoring program set up from start to finish.

By implementing a mentoring program, you can help a company invest in its employees and promote their growth and development, which will help everyone involved succeed, both you and your employees.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a well-designed mentoring program to help employees develop new skills, improve performance, and increase engagement, leading to a more productive and engaged workforce and more business growth than ever before.

Ready to get started?

Here at MentorCruise, our mentoring platform offers access to some of the most exclusive, high-end mentors in the present day. Your employees can work with heads of departments in enterprises like Google, Uber, Airbnb, and so much more.

Check out our mentoring programs today, and get access to the industry leaders that can help redefine your business like never before. Access MentorCruise today!

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