5 easy steps to creating a mentorship program

Mentorship programs are all the rage these days, with managing styles becoming looser and people taking on more than their traditional job titles. People (millennials especially), are looking for more of a learning experience at work, and that starts with people they can learn from.

Startups and small businesses tend to indulge in leaner hierarchies when it comes to management styles, which makes developing a mentorship program a manageable lift. But larger companies are noticing that advancement and a sense of purpose are important to employees and job seekers. So when they notice a higher turnover or a decrease in employee satisfaction, a mentorship program is a great tool to understand and improve these areas.

If you’re thinking about developing a mentorship program for your employees, follow these five easy steps to get started.

1. Define why a mentorship program would benefit your employees by taking a deeper dive into the realities of their daily challenges. By gaining a better understanding of the collective experiences (both good and bad) that your employees have with your company, you’ll know what the objective of your mentorship program should be.

2. Know who’s working for you. Understand who your employees really are. Find out why they are working for you and what their needs are when it comes to development and support. It’s helpful to have your management approach employees and book one-on-one meetings with them to get an idea of what will motivate them to participate in a successful mentorship program.

3. Decide on a mentorship program style. There are multiple approaches to the way a mentorship program is implemented. Once you have an idea of what your employees can take away from this experience, it will become easier to understand which style will suit them best. Think about whether you’d like employees to decide on their own goals or if leaders should set targets that they can map out and measure progress against together.

4. Choose a matching system. When it comes to mentorship, not all direct managers may be the right fit for their employees. What your employees will be looking for in terms of growth and development could greatly differ from what their manager can offer. Managers from varying departments may have a unique perspective, skillset, and bring different backgrounds, learning styles and competencies to the table. So a great match for one person on a team may not be the perfect fit for another.

5. Create a connection between the structure of your program and your company culture. A company’s culture defines the way many if not most employees engage with fellow colleagues and managers. So your company culture will impact the way employees think about participating in your program. If your culture is laid back without much structure, your program may have to emulate this in some way, offering more flexibility around participation or duration. On the other hand, if your employees are used to a structured environment, a more organized or systematized program might make sense.

Remember, the benefits of a great mentorship program go beyond keeping your employees engaged and happy. The right program encourages employees to be transparent with their managers about working at your company, which means you’re getting the inside track on how you can retain and attract the best talent in the future.

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