5 Steps to Starting a Workplace Mentoring Programme.

Written by Tim Newham

26 July 2023

employee engagement

how to build mentoring programmes with Think Learning

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If you want a workplace mentoring programme, then you’re in the right place. Here’s 5 easy steps on how to get started.  

The benefits of a mentoring programme are wide-reaching. Not only does it impact your mentees, but the mentors and the business will see an impact too.  

But how do you create a good mentoring programme? That’s where we come in.  

In this blog, we’ll go through:  

  • What a mentoring programme is  
  • Why you should consider a mentoring programme 
  • What the benefits of a mentoring programme are  
  • How to start a mentoring programme  

So, let’s get started.  

What is a mentoring programme?  

A mentoring programme, or mentorship, typically supports new hires or those early in their careers with expert advice and skills from more seasoned employees.  

Related: Read our complete guide to mentoring

In some cases, the mentor might be an external figure too.  

Mentoring involves breaking down what the mentee is looking to learn and develop, and then matching them with an appropriate mentee.  

It can help mentees learn more about their role, or their industry. Or, it could be in place to help them develop soft skills that are separate to their role.  

🚀 Pro Tip  

A lot of our healthcare customers use ThinkLink as a clinical mentoring solution. We’re experts at supporting these mandatory clinical relationships.  

No matter what the goal of your mentoring programme is, it can support mentees make more out of their role.  

Related: Best mentoring tools and resources to try

Why should you consider a mentoring programme?  

Companies that promote a strong learning culture will likely already see higher employee engagement in learning and training.  

Expanding this out to a mentoring programme is a no-brainer.  

With a mentoring programme in place you can:  

  • Share skills from your top talent  
  • Develop new hires  
  • Invest in your teams  

We’ll get onto the benefits later, but if you’re considering a mentoring programme, our best advice is to start small and scale.  

And before you get started, you need to make sure both your mentor and mentee have good, clear communication in order to get the most out of the programme.  

If you want to empower junior teams, develop your talent and share skills cross the organisation, then a mentoring programme is the perfect solution.  

What are the benefits of a mentoring programme?  

Mentoring programmes are beneficial across your organisation, not just for the mentees.  

From new hires to people looking to develop skills, there’s a number of points in your working life when a mentor can be useful.  

The main benefits of a mentoring programme are:  

  1. Broader networks  
  2. Increased retention  
  3. Improved knowledge sharing  
  4. Increased confidence  

Let’s go through each benefit.  

Broader networks  

When your mentor and mentee are matched, chances are they may not have engaged much before.  

This leads to wider company knowledge, deeper connections and broader networks. Having access to this knowledge and these networks can massively affect career development.  

Increased retention  

mentoring statistic impact on job satisfaction

This isn’t just good for our mentees, it’s good for business too. 

Retaining employees means less strain on your wallet, so it’s worth the investment!  

Improved knowledge sharing  

Skill sharing is essential when you’re just starting out. In fact, skill sharing is important throughout your career, no matter where you’re at or your level of seniority.  

Mentoring offers a key opportunity for mentors and mentees to share knowledge. Of course, the main purpose of mentorship is for the mentor to pass key knowledge on to the mentee. From job-based skill and knowledge sharing to more soft skill training, a mentee stands to gain a lot.  

But this isn’t just a benefit for our mentees.  

Increased confidence  

The impact of mentoring on mental health as well as tangible skills development is impressive too.  

employee retention statistic to help improve learner engagement

How to start a mentoring programme  

Mentoring programmes aren’t one size fits all, unfortunately. Every business is different, and the needs of their employees vary. Your mentorships should reflect that so that they’re set up to best support your teams whatever their goals are.  

While tailoring your mentoring programmes is important, there are a few steps you should follow when it comes to setting it up:  

  1. Define your goal 
  2. Outline the process 
  3. Select your mentors and mentees 
  4. Match your mentors and mentees 
  5. Provide ongoing support and review your programme  

Let’s look at them one by one.  

Define the goal of the mentoring programme  

First up, you need to define your goal and what you hope to achieve.  

Usually, mentorships are created to work on skill development and help improve employee performance. But companies also use them to support onboarding, create conversations across teams or just as a general buddy system.  

You want to focus this energy on what your business will benefit from most.  

So, before you begin, remember to set goals.  

How many mentors do you want to recruit for the project? How many mentees do you hope to reach? Are there particular teams or skills you’re looking to support?  

Set these out before you begin. This will help you get your senior team on board with the project too.  

Outline the process  

The best mentorship programmes are always organised and structured.  

Make sure you outline:  

  • How long mentorships will last  
  • Who can be a mentor  
  • Who can be a mentee 
  • The format of the mentorship; is it fortnightly, in-person, in a group setting?  
  • What a successful mentoring programme looks like to you 
  • How employees can access the programme  

Traditionally, mentoring programmes were run on a regular-face-to-face basis, but nowadays, there’s no reason why virtual mentoring programmes can’t work just as well, or even better.  

Consider if e-mentoring would work better for you, your mentors and mentees.  

And, whatever the decision is, make sure you plot how you will track progress. For example, it’s worth ensuring:  

  • Mentors and mentees know how often they must meet  
  • Participants log their meetings and their outcomes/next steps  
  • Feedback is taken from participants so you can evolve your programme  

Select your mentors and mentees 

When it comes to selecting your participants, be sure to get a diverse group. This will allow the biggest range of skill sharing.  

Start off by reaching out to your teams to see who might be interested in mentoring or having a mentor.  

You might already have a few names on your list.  

When collecting names for your mentor programme, be sure to check their:  

  • commitment levels 
  • industry background 
  • goals  
  • values  

Your mentors need to be dedicated, passionate and respected in order to get the best relationship set up. Your mentees don’t necessarily need to be committed, but they need to have a desire to develop, or at least be open to the opportunity.  

Match your mentors and mentees 

When it comes to matching your mentors and mentees, you might be struggling.  

It’s important to consider what the mentee is looking for and what the mentor can offer.  

You might have an amazing mentor on your roster, but if their skills aren’t relevant then it won’t be as enriching an experience as it could be.  

Make sure you check:  

  • Interests and hobbies  
  • Personality types  
  • Experience and skills  
  • Career goals  

One way to better match your participants is to get them to fill in a survey. Then you can use these answers to better pair people together.  

Another better way is to get your mentees to select their mentors.  

We created ThinkLink, a mentor matching tool, to allow mentees to pick out who they think would be best suited for them.  

This allows them to see a small profile of mentors and pick one based on interests, career, and more.  

Think of it as internet dating but for mentoring.  

Supply continuous training and review  

Before the mentoring programme begins, you need to offer clear training to your mentors so they’re best prepared to mentor their mentees.  

This training shouldn’t end at that point.  

You should offer training and development opportunities before, during and after the programme, so your people are supported properly throughout.  

Remember, reporting post-programme is vital to ensuring it was successful and finding opportunities to develop it ahead.   

Kickstart your own mentoring programme with Think  

We know how to set up a mentoring programme because we support customers everyday with their mentoring and coaching relationships.

Check out our mentoring tool, ThinkLink, to see exactly how we can help. Your mentees can search through available mentors by skill in order to find the best match. And once their relationship is up and running, they can monitor and feedback with notes and updates via the diary function.