At an organizational level, the benefits of mentoring in the workplace are no secret. 84% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs, and 100% of Fortune 50 companies have them.
At the individual level though, it’s a different story. While 97% of people who have a mentor find it valuable, only 37% of professionals actually have one.
And 63% of women have never had a formal mentor.
It’s a reciprocal cycle, though—89% of those who’ve had a mentor will go on to become one.
Mentorship also ranked as the #1 focus for L&D programs in 2023. So if your company doesn’t have a mentorship program yet, it might be time to create one.
Here are our tips to maximize the benefits of mentoring in the workplace:
Match people with mentors from a different demographic
Many people gravitate towards someone like them when they want a mentor. But being mentored by someone from a different demographic can help them develop skills they hadn’t considered. And, for team members from underrepresented backgrounds, it could provide a further boost up the career ladder.
For example, when men have female mentors, it improves their “feminine” traits such as empathy. These often-dismissed capabilities actually create better leaders. Yet, people frequently underestimate them—and therefore don’t encourage or nurture them—in the workplace.
Employees are more satisfied with leaders who possess these traits. What’s more, countries that embrace female leadership have higher GDPs and even experienced fewer deaths during the Covid pandemic.
Team members from underrepresented backgrounds who receive mentorship, meanwhile, gain introductions to industry connections that can open more doors for them to grow their careers.
While employees may initially feel more comfortable as the mentee of someone from the same demographic as them, they won’t get as much from it.
If matched with someone different from them, they can learn not just new skills for the workplace, but reduce their unconscious bias and develop abilities that may be less common for their demographic.
Matching employees with mentors who are equipped to actually help them grow is a key way to reap the full benefits of mentoring in the workplace.
Tailor the program to employees’ needs
Having a mentoring program is one thing. But if your mentors have never mentored anyone before, or even been on the receiving end of mentorship, they may not know how to ensure their mentee gets the most from the experience. So they end up going through the motions instead of offering employees the support they actually need.
Creating a flexible program outline ensures mentoring delivers on its promises for mentees.
For example, if the mentee’s goal is to get a promotion, the mentor can help them identify the skills they need to learn to put them in the most competitive position to achieve that goal.
They can then break the list down further to look at what activities or experiences will help the mentee gain those skills to use in the future.
If your program structure is too rigid it won’t be able to adapt to accommodate the unique skills required for each role.
But if it’s a flexible outline, the mentor and mentee (maybe with a little help from HR) can create a plan that provides mentees with everything they need to succeed.
Create groups for mentors and mentees
Employee groups are incredibly powerful. Creating specific groups for mentors and mentees to ask questions and network can help boost the benefits of mentoring in the workplace even further.
Your team can use groups to share ideas and resources, as well as troubleshoot if something isn’t working. This means nobody has to solve a problem alone. It increases their sense of belonging in the workplace and shortens how long it takes to find a solution.
Ask for feedback
Asking employees for feedback on your mentoring program ensures that everyone gets the most out of it.
If you don’t have a mentorship program yet, or you want to overhaul it, consider asking employees what they want from it.
You could ask questions like:
· What skills would you like to learn?
· Who do you think would be a good mentor?
· Would you be interested in mentoring a colleague?
Further down the line, check in with employees to find out how things are going.
That way, you can double down on what’s working and find ways to solve what isn’t—or cut those parts out.
You could ask mentees:
· What have you learned from your mentor so far?
· What benefits have you experienced from being a mentee?
· On a scale of 1-10, how beneficial have you found being a mentee?
And ask mentors:
· What have you learned from being a mentor?
· What benefits have you experienced from mentoring?
At the end of the program, you could ask:
· Has the mentorship program helped you achieve your goal(s)?
· What’s the most valuable thing you learned?
· On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your mentor?
Combining closed questions and open-ended questions will get you the best results. You can analyze the results of closed questions to get quantitative data, while the details from open questions will give you further insights to help you improve the program.
The answers to open-ended questions may also give you new ways to advertise the program to existing employees, or showcase it in job descriptions. Ensuring strong participation is obviously another big part of maximizing the benefits of mentoring in the workplace.
A mentoring program can create new opportunities for mentors and mentees. It’s not just about networking or learning new skills; it opens people up to new ways of thinking and experiencing the world.
When you involve mentors and mentees in the creation of the program, it ensures that employees will want to be a part of it and can talk up the benefits of mentoring in the workplace to their friends and colleagues.
This helps the program to grow and means you have better trained, happier employees. Who are also more likely to stick around for longer because they feel supported by their employer.
Are you ready to tap into the benefits of mentoring in the workplace for your organization? If so, Workrowd has your back.
Our all-in-one tool suite makes it easy to connect employees for matching, set up and manage employee groups, and automatically survey employees about their experiences. Plus, with real-time analytics dashboards, you can visualize your progress at a glance.