Creating a Workplace Mentoring Program (With Steps and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 1, 2021

Establishing collaborative work environments can offer various benefits, including improved performance and employee satisfaction. One way to reach this goal is by developing mentorship programs. By learning what mentorship programs are and how to create them, you can support a company's efforts in empowering employees, and sustain its positive work culture. In this article, we discuss what a workplace mentoring program is, explain the benefits and process of starting one, and discuss tips for creating an effective mentorship program at work.

What is a workplace mentoring program?

A workplace mentoring program helps professionals improve their workplace performances by implementing guidelines from more experienced professionals. While the experienced professional is the mentor, individuals who seek professional guidance are mentees. Developing a well-organized program can help team members support one another and find greater success in their roles.

Benefits of mentorship programs

Mentorship programs can offer several benefits to mentors, mentees, and organizations. They may:

Increase career development

A mentorship program can help team members improve their careers and grow professionally. When following a new career path, a mentee can learn from an individual with experience navigating similar challenges. Having this guidance can help mentees view situations from an experienced perspective, influencing their decisions at work. Working with a mentor can also provide a trustworthy resource for advice. For example, if a mentee requires direction requesting a promotion or engaging in continuing level, they may seek advice from mentors on what to do.

Improve productivity

Companies that have well-organized mentorship programs typically operate productively. Mentees in these organizations know they have experienced mentors who can answer questions or help with issues. For example, if they're unclear about a task in their first 100 days in a role, mentors can typically help them gain clarity and adapt to the company's work culture.

Develop leadership skills

Mentors can also receive the benefits of improving their leadership skills by participating in mentorship programs. Leadership is the act of guiding and directing an individual or team to a shared goal. By supporting mentees in the workplace, mentors can gain clarity on the leadership skills they have. For example, suppose a mentor is considering a management position in a company. They can participate in mentorship programs to develop empathy or active listening skills and select a leadership style that suits the corporate culture.

Related: 13 Good Mentor Qualities (Plus Tips on How to Find a Mentor)

Increase employee retention rate

While it's important to attract top talent, retaining promising team members is also essential. Through effective mentorship programs, new hires can feel more confident in their abilities and have greater job satisfaction. Having an individual within a company to help navigate issues can encourage mentees to continue in their position. It can also help employers reduce the company's turnover rate and save money on recruiting, onboarding, and training new candidates.

Allow for reverse mentoring

Effective mentorships are mutually beneficial relationships, and providing guidance can be reciprocal. For example, suppose mentors are of the older population. They can teach the younger generation about thriving in an industry and workplace success. In return, the younger generation may offer guidance on using new trends and technology to improve work processes. Mutually beneficial mentorships are often successful.

Encourage a healthy work-life balance

Having a mentor that offers thoughtful advice can help a mentee handle anxiety and manage stress. For example, if an accountant makes a mistake in the workplace, their mentor may guide them on being more attentive and working to prevent similar errors. Individuals with a support system can typically advance their careers and balance work with their personal lives.

How to start a workplace mentoring program

If you're responsible for developing mentorship programs in an organization, follow these steps to create a successful one:

1. Define your goals

Determine why it's important to start a mentorship program. Whether to address an organizational need, improve performance, or enhance employee retention, it's essential you understand the mentorship's purpose. You might design a program that integrates with a company's onboarding process and focus on helping new hires settle in their new role. Another option may be to create a mentoring program to develop future leaders and prepare supervisors for promotion. Defining your goals can help you maintain focus and create a suitable program.

Here are questions you can ask when developing a mentorship program's goal:

  • Who are the prospective mentees?

  • What career levels are the target participants?

  • What can motivate individuals to participate in the mentoring program?

  • What value can the mentorship program offer the organization?

2. Identify the program's details

A mentorship program can take various forms. For example, it may involve a mentor observing a mentee, offering constructive feedback, demonstrating a new skill. As you prepare to start one, you can create a diagram to visualize the critical steps for mentors and mentees to take. When developing a mentorship program's structure, consider the following:

  • How would mentees apply for and participate in the program?

  • Would the mentor-mentee relationship be project-based, group-based, or one-on-one?

  • How long would the mentorship last?

  • When and where would mentors and mentees meet?

  • How would you track the program's success?

3. Select the program's participants

Successful mentoring programs typically involve participants with diverse skills, backgrounds, and work experience. To make an informed selection, reflect on the program's goal and objectives. You might accept applications from any employee interested in the program and invite mentors that might benefit from the program. Next, gather useful information about the participants, such as their skill sets, background, and strengths. Organize interviews with mentors to learn about their career goals and how they might fit into the program. You also want to ask mentors what they might want to share with mentees.

While strong mentors are typically successful, experienced, and respected professionals, suitable mentees are professionals who are eager to improve their performance and show job commitment.

Related: 13 Important Mentorship Skills and Why They Matter

4. Pair mentors and mentees

Next, thoughtfully match mentors and mentees to balance their strengths and weaknesses. For example, if a new hire has challenges settling in their new role, you can pair them with an individual with several employment years in the company. You can typically find a suitable pair by examining each individual's application and reflecting on interview notes.

Consider involving mentorship participants in the pairing and selection process. For example, you may allow a mentor to choose their mentee from a list of three suitable candidates you selected. Allowing participates to decide who they work with can offer a sense of accountability to the process.

5. Provide mentorship training

Before the mentorship program begins, it may be helpful to train mentors and explain your expectations. Help them understand how they can support mentees and describe the program's goals. Here are questions you may discuss with mentorship participants:

  • What is a workplace mentoring program?

  • What benefits would the mentors and mentees enjoy?

  • How often would mentoring occur, and in what format?

Related: 11 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Tips for creating a mentoring program at work

You can make use of the following practices for structuring a mentorship program in the workplace:

Create a support system

Consider assigning at least one company leader to supervise the mentorship program. This can provide an option for mentees who want to change or adapt to their mentor. For example, if a mentee has targets they can improve more quickly with a different mentor, they can speak to the company leader and mentor to facilitate a transition.

Related: How to Build a Successful Mentor Relationship in 5 Steps

Gather feedback from mentees

Assess the mentoring program's effectiveness by requesting regular feedback. You can send surveys asking participants to describe changes they hope to see or what improvements might help the program. The responses you receive can help you reevaluate the mentorship program's goals.

Recognize mentors' and mentees' success

As mentors and mentees build positive relationships, recognize their effort in reaching the mentoring program's goals. For example, if a mentor helps a mentee reach their sales targets for the month, you may create a newsletter celebrating their hard work. You may also offer rewards to encourage participants and inspire others to join the mentorship program.

Read more: Sending a Thank You Note to a Mentor (Why, When, and How)

Update the mentorship program details

Implement changes from the constructive criticism you receive about the mentoring program. For example, if team members report that group-based mentorship may offer more benefits, you can restructure the mentoring program to focus on this suggestion. Doing this can also help reinforce that team members' opinions are valuable to the company and help in strategic planning.