How to Set the Strategy for Mentoring in the Workplace

How to Set the Strategy for Mentoring in the Workplace

Mentoring in the workplace creates an opportunity for mentor and mentee development and establishes a valuable sense of connection with an organization.

Mentoring in the workplace has proven to be a useful tool to help improve the overall employee onboarding experience. With this benefit in mind, mentoring programs are often implemented to welcome new hires and help them assimilate to business culture.

"People are leaving early on, and organizations need to provide ways for them to engage sooner rather than later," says Susan Hanold, Vice President, HCM Strategic Advisory Services for ADP. "Mentoring is a low-cost option. It's a way for mentees to interact and get involved with the organization in new ways."

While mentoring programs may appeal to both leaders and front-line employees, as well as new and longer-tenured employees, HR professionals also know that the initial enthusiasm around mentoring in the workplace can fade once a program has been in place for a while.

A key to establishing a successful mentoring program is setting the right strategy and measuring against that strategy to ensure the program is delivering the intended value.

Setting a Strategy for Mentoring Programs

For talent development practitioners to share the story of the program's success, mentoring programs need to be strategic and measurable. As you're considering how mentoring will contribute to your talent strategy, find ways in which mentor relationships can influence the following for your organization:

  • Onboarding and retention: New employees receive help to answer questions and acclimating to the organizational culture.
  • Employee engagement: A mentor being willing to connect and give mentees their time builds trust and respect.
  • Organizational savvy and knowledge: Senior leaders can meet others in the business for reverse mentoring, or to share and transfer organizational knowledge.
  • Business alignment and acumen: At six months to a year, employees will often have operational business questions for which mentors can offer meaningful, valuable insight.

"From a total rewards standpoint, there are a lot of things you can do," Hanold says. "Mentoring can be part of a talent retention strategy — especially when leaders or key employees are challenged with new responsibilities. A mentor can be a key, low-cost part of that support."

As part of the strategy and planning, you also want to ensure that it's possible to deliver your program. Determining the following can help:

  • If the program will be for specific business groups, or if it will be open to all employees.
  • When the program will be offered and how long it will last.
  • What time commitment will be required from both mentors and mentees.

Having these parameters in place will enable you to execute a standardized program and measure what's working and where changes may be required.

Measure Mentoring Success

A program will be better received if you can demonstrate that you're moving the needle against your original mentoring strategy and priorities. Based on the approach and focus of your mentoring program, establish benchmarks and a plan to get feedback along the way.

Be sure that your metrics measure the benefit for the organization — for mentees and mentors. When volunteering to serve as a mentor, people want to understand what's in it for them, too. In terms of what metrics to value, consider these options to demonstrate program success:

  • Overall participant satisfaction
  • Mentor and mentee recommendation of the program
  • Participant retention within the organization
  • Participant promotion rates or increased level of responsibilities
  • Internal networks and collaboration

Mentoring in the workplace creates an opportunity for mentor and mentee development and establishes a valuable sense of connection with an organization. During a time when organizations are competing to recruit and retain talent, something as simple as a program that facilitates conversations between mentors and mentees becomes invaluable. With the right strategy and methods to measure the success of mentoring in the workplace, HR leaders are poised to make the most of this high-impact and cost-effective development offering.

For more insight, read the related story, "What's the Business Case for Mentoring?"