Reinvigorate Your Mentoring Program
Mentoring programs, like everything, have a shelf life. They can get stale if not refreshed and rethought in regular increments. I’m hearing from leaders across various sectors that all the changes we’ve lived through over the past few years have created a different work environment and different expectations at work. Reinvigorating and revitalizing a mentoring program can breathe new life into it and make it more exciting for participants.
Here are five steps to consider when reinvigorating a mentoring program:
1. Get feedback from the people who know. These are your mentors and mentees – or potential mentors and mentees. If you have time to get formal, you can conduct a program assessment. Some ideas to consider for getting program feedback include:
Survey Participants: Gather feedback from current and past participants to understand their experiences, challenges, and expectations. Identify what worked well and what didn’t.
Analyze Data: Use the survey results to identify patterns and areas needing improvement. Look for common themes in feedback.
Benchmark: Compare your program with successful mentoring programs in other organizations to identify best practices.
2. Refocus on purpose and set clear objectives. It’s hard to overstate how important having a clear purpose can be in mentoring partnerships and also in mentoring programs overall. What are we trying to do? Are we providing raw support for people? Do we want to work on the transfer of particular knowledge? Or maybe increase people’s exposure across the organization? Here are ways to refocus:
Take the time to define goals: Clearly outline the objectives of the mentoring program. Make sure they align with both organizational goals and the individual development needs of the participants (which you should have found out in Step 1).
Highlight Benefits: It never hurts to restate what awesomeness people get from mentoring programs! Communicate the benefits of participating, both for mentors and mentees. This could include skill development, career growth, and personal satisfaction.
3. Match and prepare Mentors and Mentees thoughtfully through careful matching and preparation.
The Match Matters: One of our convictions at Pollinate is that the match really matters to the quality of the experience people have. We use a special algorithm based on collaboration style and situation to match people. We need to move away from generic pairings as they have a much higher incidence of people finding that their match isn’t as compelling as they had hoped.
Training for Mentors: Provide training for mentors to enhance their mentoring skills. Effective mentors can significantly impact the success of the program, and well prepared mentees are what keep mentors engaged.
4. Implement Engaging Activities. I’ve always been one to say that we can’t interfere with mentorship pairings and groups too much or, like the butterfly trying to get out of her chrysalis, we can make things worse and not better. That said, there is ample evidence that having collective messages, activities, opportunities, themes, and personalities can go a long way to create a positive space in people’s heads around the mentoring they’re doing. Some ideas from Pollinate clients:
Structured Sessions: Design structured activities and sessions that mentors and mentees can engage in. These could include workshops, goal-setting exercises, and skills training.
Networking Events: Organize regular networking events where participants can interact informally. These events can foster a sense of community and provide opportunities for learning from peers.
Mentorship Circles: Consider implementing mentorship circles where several mentors interact with multiple mentees, creating a dynamic learning environment. We have an effective system in place to manage many different connections.
5. On-going Support and Recognition: Regular check-ins – either live or via on-line communication can help participants to address challenges and provide guidance. At Pollinate we actively monitor the progress of mentor-mentee relationships via pulse checks and we check in where people are struggling. On the other side, are there ways you can acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and milestones of participants. Publicly recognize the contributions of mentors and mentees through awards or internal communication channels and watch your program re-energize!
Book a meeting with us to find out how Pollinate can help you reinvigorate your mentorship program!
Christy Pettit is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Pollinate Networks Inc.
For 25 years, Christy has developed new approaches and best practices for agile, effective organizations worldwide. She is an expert on matching people and organizations for applications including knowledge transfer and mentorship programs, flexible virtual and hybrid teams, and productive organizational and business ecosystems and networks.