Most businesses can point to team members who make things happen. Those individuals are the superstars – the rainmakers – the ones you want to clone. While cloning an individual is not possible yet, you can leverage their knowledge, skills and abilities, and promote her to the role of a mentor. Mentors can act as the catalyst to improve the performances of the entire team, develop individuals for future promotions, and enable stronger relationships amongst coworkers.
Developing a successful mentor program is not as simple as assigning people a mentor and announcing it to the team. You need to carefully plan just how your mentor program will operate, as well as your desired results. Lets look at a few guidelines to help you decide if a mentoring program is right for your business.
Decide on goals for the mentoring program. There are many reasons companies decide to implement a mentoring program, including new employee transition, skills development, and culture development. Figure out exactly what purpose your program will serve so that you can develop relationships and structures that will help you reach the goal. For example, if you want a mentor program to develop interdepartmental relationships, you will need to think carefully about which departments require the most mixing, and what type of mentoring activities are appropriate to reach your goals.
Develop a program. Mentors and proteges need direction from you if they are to be successful. A great mentoring program should include education on the purpose of the program, training on what being a mentor means, and support within the company from the top down. There should be agreement about how much mentoring programs should be included in standard working hours, what activities are appropriate, and what, if any, compensation will be given for mentoring opportunities.
Choose relationships wisely. Determining the goals of the mentoring program should guide your mentoring relationship choices, but individual personalities and skills should also be considered. Getting input from managers and team leaders will help you select the right combinations and give your program a better chance of success.
Check in and revise as needed. Mentoring programs should not be micromanaged, but there should be reviews at regular intervals to make sure the program is having the desired effect. You will want to revise pairings that are not effective and search for other partnering opportunities. Checking with both mentors and proteges about how they feel the program is progressing, and asking for feedback on how to make it more successful, will allow you to continually work on the program to make it better every year.
Mentoring programs can be incredibly powerful tools when managed correctly, and it should be considered a long-term commitment to the future of your company. Developing and retaining talent that you already have is a great way to reduce employee costs and attrition down the road.
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