Notes on People Development: Developing a Mentoring Program
“Notes on…” is a series, based on notes I took during Lynda.com courses I completed.
Each post highlights a key takeaway I took from the course, along with my own notes.
This course got me to think about my own experiences of mentoring and being mentored. At Meetup, I was team mentor for awhile, where I had the opportunity to onboard brand-new hires. At Squarespace, I’ve done the same thing. This course came in handy as I was able to make suggestions and help come up with a framework for a mentoring program for CustOps. The “Pre-Program Needs Assessment” questions are hugely important and help clarify the mission and scope of a mentoring program.
An Overview of Mentoring Programs
What is mentoring and its different forms?
Relationship between a senior person in terms of age and experience that provides career and emotional support to a junior person.
Informal vs. Formal
Formal: Shaped by the goals of the mentoring program
The Benefits of Formal Mentoring Programs
Mentoring can engage and energize employees.
Greater employee retention (savings to the organization)
Better employee satisfaction
Serves to develop high-potential employees
Underlying Assumptions of Formal Mentoring Programs
Mentoring Relationships - are a social exchange - reciprocal and mutually beneficial (both must give and get)
Mentoring Relationships are not monogamous - they offer flexibility and opportunities for multiple forms of mentoring
They look and feel like informal or spontaneous relationships
Types and Purpose of Mentoring Program
Four Most Common Types
Traditional Mentoring: Senior executives paired with junior employees
Peer Mentoring: Great at providing emotional support; employee affinity groups
Electronic/Virtual: Can be just as effective as face-to-face; also opens up a world of possibilities (mentornet.org)
Reverse Mentoring: Generation Z or millennials serve as mentors to more experienced executives
5 Elements of Formal Mentoring Program
Going on a trip metaphor
Conduct a pre-program needs assessment: Gather data - learn what you are trying to accomplish; is mentoring really the solution to the problems that exist?
Create a checklist of essentials: What essentials do you need in place before designing a mentoring program?
Decide on your program participants: Start small and get bigger; choose mentors and proteges who are committed, well respected
Provide training and ongoing support
Perform a post-program evaluation: What was most memorable or the best part? What could have been improved? What did you learn?
Pre-Program Needs Assessment
How to Design a Framework and Needs Assessment
Five questions to ask:
What is the best way to gather data to understand what is happening? Why do you need a mentoring program? (Active Training by Mel Silberman) Use at least two methods.
What is the overall purpose of your mentoring program?
What are the specific measurable goals that you want to accomplish?
How can your mentoring program align with overall org strategy and existing programs? Try to get it out of the “HR Project” box
Who are the mentoring program champions? You need allies, resources, and a top management champion; tie to manager performance reviews
Infrastructure and Support
Creating a Mentoring Culture
What are your org’s values, philosophy, and mission? How to bring these to life via mentoring
What are your assumptions and beliefs about how people should behave at work?
Look around your office: What are the visible artifacts? What are informal rules/stories that people tell about your company?
Culture is like air: Important, but we don’t always notice it on a daily basis
Marketing and Communicating Your Program
Pre-suasion: Plan communication strategy carefully; think about the “what” and “how”
Seven by Seven: Communicate about your program in seven different ways
Reward Structure for Participants
Ideas to reward people:
What does success mean to you in terms of your mentoring program? Trying to accomplish?
Consider leveraging extrinsic and intrinsic rewards: Make it part of performance review
Do you want to reward outcomes or behaviors or both?
Help your mentors and proteges figure out what they want to accomplish on an individual level
Ensuring Organizational Support
What does the top management support?
What is the interest from potential mentors and proteges?
What are the resources/support/budget available?
Ensure top management support
Ensure bottom-up support
Determine realistic goals and training needs
Determine roles and accountability
Make sure you have adequate resources
Recruiting Mentors and Proteges
Begin with the end in mind: Start with goals
Provide a realistic preview: Sell great aspects and be honest about challenges
Use snowball technique: Get one participant to commit and ask him/her for recommendations
Matching Mentors and Proteges
Help the mentor and protege to set reasonable expectations
Choice: Matching without giving people choice can feel like a blind date
Connection: Match based on similarities and differences; goals, values, geography
Learning: Diverse teams are best for creativity and problem-solving; applies to mentoring as well
Training & Ongoing Support for Participants
Training Essentials for Proteges
Write learning objectives: 2-3 hour learning session; 3-5 objectives
Use prepare, present (share information), practice (apply material), conclude (wrap up course)
Training Essentials for Mentors
Presence of mentors at training signals that mentoring matters
Training is a way to build community across an organization
Mentors might learn something new
Prepare: 2 hours is about right - Agenda, objectives, ground rules
Present: Core benefits of mentoring to mentor; detailed preview; review obstacles, discuss managing expectations
Practice: Apply the material; create relationship conversation guide; provide a jump-start
Conclude: Encourage feedback and making a connection
Action Learning Project
Provides a focus in the form of a project
Keeps momentum going
Results in a shareable and measurable deliverable
Developing Continuous Learning Processes
Help Them Stay Engaged
Follow up periodically: within a month of first training session; halfway point; formal or informally
Provide conversation starter and ongoing coaching: Make them specific to your participants
Build community among peers: Have mentors and proteges be part of a community; events, online networks
Concluding and Evaluating Your Program
Concluding and Celebrating Your Program
How to Wrap Up
Showcase: Accomplishments; project that was created
Recognize: Publicly and formally; both proteges and mentors
Celebrate: Lunch, dinner, event
Evaluating Your Mentoring Program
Level 1: Reaction: how much people liked the program; survey or focus group; open and closed questions
Level 2: Learning: What and how much was learned; survey or interviews; final project
Level 3: Behavior: Was there a change?
Level 4: Results/ROI
Making Your Mentoring Program Last
How to make it sustainable.
Linkages: Link program to vision, mission, values, and existing programs
Ambassadors: Establish top-down and bottom-up support
Selling: Market your program to potential mentors, proteges, and decision makers
Taste: Make your program a reflection of your organization’s culture