Best Practices in Mentoring

Here are 12 steps for starting and managing a successful corporate mentoring program.

Monday, June 2, 2008
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1. Plan your mentoring programs around your organization's HR strategic goals and outline the objectives for each program. Programs might support:

* High potential career development;

* Acclimating new employees;

* Diversity relations;

* Succession planning and/or

* Pivotal employee retention.

2. Determine an appropriate budget which may be used for communication materials, kick-off and ongoing events, matching and administration software, mentor incentives and/or expense reimbursements.

3. Identify the employees to participate in the mentoring program(s). A program may be as small as 50 participants for a very specialized program or as large as the entire company for a general program.

4. Define the level of formality and the program rules for each of your mentoring programs. Programs may run from very informal with no rules to very formal with signed participant contracts. Program rules should include:

* Length of mentorship (somewhere between 9 months and 18 months);

* Required or suggested number of mentor-mentee meetings;

* Maximum allowable job levels between mentor and mentee (generally no more than 2 levels);

* Maximum number of mentees per mentor and

* Eligibility to participate.

5. Plan your matching strategy and tactics. Allow for self-matching or some involvement by the mentees in the selection of his or her mentor. For programs with more than 100 participants the use of an online mentor matching software program or an in-house tool may be helpful.

6. Conduct a "Call for Mentors," which may range from nominations by senior managers for formal specialty programs to self-identification for general programs.

7. Publicize the program through multiple communication channels.

8. Find an executive preferably outside of the human resources department to champion the program. Look for someone who attributes his or her success to having had a great mentor.

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9. Kick-off your mentoring program with pizzazz. Hold a luncheon or afternoon snack-filled meeting to discuss the roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees and share past mentoring success stories.

10. Monitor and track participation in the mentoring program and continue to communicate success stories throughout the life of the program.

11. Measure the results of the program against the program objectives. Is the turnover rate of program participants lower than non-participants? Are those participating in the mentoring program being successfully promoted at higher rates than non-participants?

12. Clearly communicate the success to senior leaders inside and outside of HR.

Beth N. Carvin is CEO & president of Nobscot Corp., a Honolulu-based company known for its exit interview management software. One of its products is Mentor Scout, a Web-based tool for facilitating mentoring programs, which was selected by Human Resource Executive® magazine as one of the best HR products of 2007.

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