How to Build an Effective Employee Mentoring Program

Effective programs to coach and mentor employees are gaining in popularity globally. Part of the reason for this trend is because organizations are finding it more and more difficult to attract and retain the best talent. In a recent survey conducted by the Achievers Group, 78% of supervisors rated employee engagement and retention as one of their top concerns. Another international survey conducted by the Gallup organization found that over 900 million employees worldwide do not feel they are fully engaged and productive at work. One solution that has been effective in addressing these problems is the implementation of employee coaching and mentoring programs. Research has shown when effective coaching and mentoring is tied to training and development a 500% to 800% ROI (return on investment) can be realized.

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When building or enhancing an employee coaching or mentoring program there are four importantelements to consider. First, Build Your Program on a Strong Foundation. This means defining how the program will be used, what the expected outcomes should be and identifying the mentoring approach to employ. One example cited was to build your mentoring program on a strength-based philosophy. That means building a program that focuses on an employees natural talents and abilities rather than trying to improve on areas of weakness or deficiencies. Training mentors and mentees in these best practices and techniques can help ensure that the coaching experiences that participants receive are positive, constructive and productive.

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The second point highlighted in the presentation was toBecome a System Architect. That means not leaving the development and growth of the mentoring program up to chance. HR professionals should carefully consider how to build and launch a program. Will it be used for employee onboarding, leadership development, career guidance or performance improvement? A model called True Development was presented that showed how effective mentoring systemscan be designed to reinforce existing training and development programs. It was also recommended to start with a pilot or BETA program and then refine and expand the process based on participant feedback and evaluation.

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Third, recruit key executives to become Champions for the System, typically, the higher the level (CEO) the better. Ensure that these Champions not only support the program but also become actively engaged. Consider using different types of mentoring programs, not just the traditional one-on-one approach. Many mentors actually learn a lot from their mentees, a process called reverse mentoring. You can also employ a one-to-many approach where a person can mentor a class, cohort or team.  Peer-to-peer mentoring is gaining in popularity. A recent survey, conducted by TINY pulse, indicated that employees who received positive peer recognition and feedback were 12% more likely to stay with the organization rather than leave for another opportunity.

Finally, because of rising expectations of younger employees and advancements in cloud-based, social and mobile applications, Leveraging Technology, can be very helpful.

Traditional approaches to mentoring make it:

  • Difficult to coordinate and manage
  • Challenging to identify and/or develop qualified mentors
  • Hard to effectively match up mentors and mentees
  • Hard to measure results
  • Expensive, inefficient and labor intensive
  • Inconvenient for participants to meet

New mentoring software applications can automate many of these time-consuming procedures and overcome these traditional challenges.

Today, even though organizations are faced with a highly competitive demand for talent, an effective coaching and mentoring program can be a powerful tool to help attract, engage and retain the best employees.

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