How to Manage an Employee Mentor Program

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Some companies use mentoring programs to help employees flourish in the workplace. In 2010, Forrester Research reported that mentoring is experiencing a resurgence because of its proven benefits. Starting an employee mentoring program takes buy-in from both employees and company stakeholders. If you are charged with managing a mentoring program, become well-versed in program goals, structure and participant selection, as early, in-depth involvement will go a long way toward making the program successful.

Zero in on Mentoring Goals

Start the management process by becoming clear about measurable mentoring goals. You will need this clarity to track program progress. Mentoring goals are shaped by company needs, which you can identify with a needs assessment. An example of a mentoring goal is developing leaders from within the organization. A success measure might be identifying two management candidates per mentoring period. Read the assessment reports or other goal discovery information to hone the intentions of the program.

Know the Selection Criteria

The success of an employee mentor program has much to do with mentor and mentee matching. The wrong pairing can adversely impact relationships and curtail future sign-ups for the overall program. You can manage this portion of the program successfully by understanding and monitoring the selection criteria. In addition to knowledge and experience, quality mentors must possess certain personal attributes and traits, such as an approachable personality, the ability to listen and the willingness to help others.

Know the Guidelines

Become the expert on the mentoring guidelines. Managing the program requires your thorough knowledge of the operational guidelines that establish how mentors and mentees will work together. The guidelines also set mentor and mentee responsibilities, expectations and protocols for privacy and confidentiality. By knowing the rules inside out, you will better be able to assess the mentoring process and identify whether participants are following agreed-upon terms and conditions.

Don’t Skip the Orientation

Managing the program means dispensing pertinent information and alleviating concerns or fears that may keep employees from participating. Orientation sessions are vehicles in which you can do just that. Holding these sessions will give you the chance to communicate program details and answer any questions. Orientation sessions also give participants a way to become acquainted with each other and the guidelines.

Check in Regularly

Keeping tabs on mentoring relationships is another aspect of your managing duties. Check with participants regularly, leaving the lines of communication open for individual feedback. Options at your disposal include using a formal questionnaire, an impromptu conversation or both. Regular check-ins and feedback will help you spot mentor and mentee interaction problems or reasons for progress being stalled.

Evaluate Outcomes

Proper program management is not complete without evaluation of outcomes. Prepare and use an evaluation tool, such as a Likert Scale, to glean information about the program's quality and value. Design questions to assess program satisfaction, usefulness and goal achievement. Conduct evaluations at least midway through and at the end of the program, and adjust the program as needed.