Years ago, fresh out of college, with practically no experience in space selling, I started out selling advertising space for a newspaper publication. I was assigned a buddy for a couple of days, but later was left to fend for myself. Those were trying times for me… facing difficult customers who were not forthcoming with orders.Being inexperienced, I hardly knew how to overcome these roadblocks. The first opportunity that I got, I quit that job as it was proving to be too difficult to cope. If the organization had a good mentoring program to help me sail through the rough waters, perhaps I could have stuck around for a longer time there!
A well laid out mentoring program in organizations can help employees,
- exchange knowledge and skills effectively
- improve performance
- be content with their jobs
- have longer relationship with the organization
- contribute to higher business productivity
Given the fact that employee turnover can cost an organization anywhere from 30% to 200% of the annual salary of the employee, it is a good idea for organizations to consider a consistent and doable mentoring program. So, what are the essential elements of a good mentoring program?
Broadly speaking here are five elements that can be considered as essential elements of a good mentoring program. They are —
Crystalized idea about the need, expected goals and resources
The first step towards creating a mentoring program is to start with determining why you want such a program in the first place. You will need to have a clear idea about how the mentoring program is aligned and contributes to the business goals. You also need to determine the resources you require, costs involved to implement the program, to get management buy-in.
Documented design and format for on-site/on-line program
There are different types of mentoring programs, such as traditional (one senior to a junior employee), Group mentoring (one senior responsible for a group of younger employees), Peer mentoring (Senior colleague mentoring a newly hired employee), E-mentoring (mentoring through online medium). Irrespective of the format(s) you choose, you need to develop a clear design, structure and duration of the program that helps in implementing and following up on its progress.
Thanks for technological options available today, you could consider online mentoring program to support and develop your employees.
Appointment of key personnel spearheading the initiative
There is a need for a facilitator, program manager or an internal coordinator who spearheads the initiative. Then, you will have to build a database of mentors who are willing to volunteer for the purpose. Mentoring cannot be enforced upon and it never will have the desired success. Therefore, it is always beneficial to promote the cause and seek volunteers who are willing to mentor their peers or colleagues. Mentoring is not just beneficial to the mentees, but it has far reaching paybacks for the mentors as well as the organization.
As a part of the implementation process, you need to announce the initiative and promote it internally among all employees. The benefits and the rewards of the program should be clearly spelled out both for the mentors as well as the mentees. This should be followed up with clear directions on how to enroll or be part of the initiative. Once you have a pool of mentors, you need to provide them proper training, guiding them on their roles and responsibilities as a mentor.
You need to take periodic feedback both from the mentors and mentees on the outcomes of the initiative. This essentially is done through the program manager or coordinator, who is responsible for managing the program. You need to have a method to measure if the expected outcomes have been achieved by the program. The findings have to be shared with the relevant officials for further action.
Mentoring happens all the time on an informal basis in any organization. However, giving a formal structure ensures that there are quantifiable benefits for all individuals involved in the process. Online mentoring program can be a useful method when you have employees spread across the globe.