Mentorship can have extraordinary benefits for your business. Studies show that a strong mentoring relationship improves the skills and abilities of both the mentor and the mentee. It also improves workplace culture, which in turn improves both productivity and retention rates.
A good mentorship program offers a solid ROI – but a bad mentorship program can cost your company far more than it gains. Here are four common mistakes to avoid when creating your company’s mentorship program:
- Ignoring your business’s goals. Your company’s mentorship program should do more than simply make employees happy. It should also drive your business’s objectives. For instance, if your company’s low levels of employee engagement are troubling the leadership, do the work to identify the causes of this lack of engagement, and build solutions into the mentoring program, so that the program targets the problem.
- Neglecting to measure success. Once you know what you want the mentoring program to do, it’s tempting to simply announce this goal to the participants and let them take over. Without clear, objective measurements, however, you will have no way of demonstrating the program’s effectiveness or identifying ways to make it better. Make sure each objective for the program comes with a measurement method, and collect data accordingly.
- Forgetting to offer support. Mentoring, like management, isn’t an intuitive skill: it has to be learned. First, talk to those who plan to participate and ask them where they feel they need help. Do they need better structure for mentorship activities, help understanding the program’s goals, or a “how-to” on using tracking software? Start by building support for their stated needs into the program, then add support systems where needed to keep the program on track.
- Skipping the feedback step. Measurements of your objectives help you improve and defend the program, but talking to those who participate will give you a first-hand look at the program’s success (or struggles). Use participant feedback to further demonstrate the benefits of the program, identify places where change is needed, and build support and excitement for future participants.