When establishing a mentoring programme in your workplace the first thing you need to do is decide what you want your mentoring programme to achieve.
Formal or informal mentoring?
An informal mentoring programme may aim to induct the mentee into the business, and identify a sympathetic colleague for them to discuss any issues with.
A more formal mentoring programme may aim to encourage the mentee to achieve specific development goals set by themselves or by their line manager.
See more on mentoring: formal and informal programmes.
It may be a good idea to set up a pilot mentoring programme with just a few people participating, to see whether mentoring will work in your business. If successful, it can then be extended.
Guidelines for mentoring programmes
Both the mentor and the mentee should know what their roles are, and the objectives of the mentoring programme should be clear. Draw up guidelines as to how the programme will operate and be monitored.
Mentoring programmes should:
- use mentors who are well-matched to their mentees
- be supported by an objective co-ordinator, such as a human resources practitioner
- make a clear distinction between the roles of line managers and mentors
The International Standards for Mentoring Programmes in Employment (ISMPE) set the standard for mentoring programmes. You may wish to use them to design your programme and/or to achieve the standard after one year of operation.
Training staff to become mentors
Mentoring is more likely to be successful if the individual you choose as the mentor has the necessary mentoring skills.
Identify employees who you think will make good mentors and consider enrolling them on a training programme.
Using mentoring co-ordinators
Ideally, your mentoring programme should be designed by trained co-ordinators.
You can hire consultants to design an effective programme for your business and train your employees in mentoring - however, this can be expensive.
Training providers should be accredited by the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC).
There are also courses to train mentoring coordinators.
Supporting the mentoring relationship
Just training mentors is not enough. They will need support for at least the first year of the mentoring programme in order to help maximise its success.
Useful support methods include:
- having a steering group, who monitor relationships
- bringing mentors together to review their experience and reinforce their skills in the role
- having an online information resource to answer their queries in real time