Many businesses are creating their own in-house employee mentoring programs, but is it right for your company? If you do it right, then odds are that it will help and certainly won’t hurt. It has been proven time and time again that employee engagement and satisfaction is crucial for business growth. Mentoring programs are a great way to facilitate both, as well as client satisfaction and employee retention.  However, without the proper planning, your mentoring program won’t do what it’s intended to do—develop a long-term, productive and transformative relationship between mentor and mentee.

What’s best for your organization? An informal mentoring program where relationships develop organically? Something more formal with more strict guidelines?

Both types of mentoring programs can be valuable and which one you choose depends on your organizational culture and the resources you have available. Whatever you choose, here are some tips to ensure that your program is successful.

  • Provide Guidelines and Training– Do not assume mentors and mentees know what to do. Mentees need to be clear on what skills they want to develop from the relationship. Mentors need to know what is expected of them in terms of time and preparation. Things tend to work out best when everyone knows what is expected of them—and a mentoring program will be no different.
  • Flexibility– One size does not fit all. Each mentee will have a different set of goals and ideals they want from the relationship, so make sure everyone is up front about their needs. And, of course, make sure those needs can be met by your program. If it’s not within the realm of possibility, be up front with the mentee about it.
  • Reporting Structure– Although many bosses make great mentors, in a formal mentoring program you must make sure the mentor and mentee are not in the same chain of command. The success of a mentoring relationship depends on the mentee’s ability to safely and candidly share their experiences without fear of retribution. Ensuring that the mentor and mentee are not direct supervisor and supervisee is crucial. Mentors selected externally are also an option!
  • Chemistry– It is critical that the mentor and mentee have chemistry with one another and are able to establish a good rapport. Giving the mentee more than one mentor to choose from and seeing who they connect with will ensure a more successful relationship. And that will ensure a more successful mentoring program!

Whatever structure you choose for your mentoring program, there is no question that mentoring, when implemented correctly, will bring great change. Employees who have their needs met give back to their organizations!