How to keep momentum in your mentoring scheme

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Mentoring schemes are proving to be an increasingly valuable tool in the workplace, helping organisations to engage, retain and develop employees. But they also provide valuable learning opportunities for employees too - whether they’ve been with the company for a while, or just joined.

The opportunity to be either a mentor or mentee is in demand too; our research found that a fifth (20%) of employees are not currently in such a role, but would like to be. While it’s great news that the appetite for mentoring and development is there, businesses need to ensure schemes don’t fall at the first hurdle.

Our research also found that 30% of mentees said the relationship failed because the process lost momentum. So how can businesses make sure their mentoring programme doesn’t become one of these statistics? Below are three top tips to ensure that your mentoring scheme doesn’t lose steam.

Assess interest levels 

Conduct a communications audit internally to find out if your employees would value a mentoring scheme in the workplace and what skills they’d be most interested in developing. Also find out who would be interested in becoming a mentor and don’t forget to sell the benefits. Mentors will learn valuable teaching and management skills in the process, and it looks great on a CV. The information from the communications audit can then inform the pairing of mentors and mentees, to ensure both parties are engaged and appropriately matched from the outset.  

Benchmark and monitor success 

Set benchmarks for the programme and encourage mentors and mentees to do the same between them. As a business, you have to consider what you want from the mentoring scheme and how you will measure its impact. For example, if engagement data has shown that employees want access to more learning and development opportunities, monitor engagement rates over time to see if opinion improves as the mentoring scheme progresses. 

Save anecdotal feedback or emails about the success of the scheme too. For example, if a manager notices great improvement in skills from a mentee, or an employee is a more effective manager since becoming a mentor, keep track of these details to showcase the scheme’s success. Communicate the benefits of the mentoring scheme to the wider company as well by including a case study on the intranet about a day in the life of a mentor. The more communication about the success of a mentoring scheme the better, as it’ll encourage more employees to participate.  

Check-in 

Set regular catch-ups with both the mentor and the mentee, to find out from both parties how they feel the scheme is going and whether it is effective. Separate sessions are the best way to do this, as it allows both parties the opportunity to be honest and discuss any issues. This enables businesses to work through any teething problems in the mentoring programme and make tweaks along the way to ensure it is effective and relevant to their business and employees.

Once established, mentoring schemes can provide an excellent opportunity for businesses to attract, retain and train key talent through investing in their career development. However, it’s important for mentoring schemes to be run alongside and complement other training and development initiatives throughout the year. If organised carefully from the outset and monitored throughout, mentoring can be a cost effective way of rejuvenating employees – refreshing skills and re-engaging them in the workplace – which benefits all parties. 

Penny de Valk is managing director of Penna's talent practice

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