In prior blogs, we have discussed both the importance of succession planning as both an exit strategy in “3 Keys to an Effective CEO Succession Plan/Exit Strategy”, as well as a disaster preparedness strategy in “Disaster Preparedness People Plans”. Building a successful organization today combines succession planning with diversity planning. In two other previous blogs “Building Organizational Diversity: Developing a Mentorship Initiative” and “Building Organizational Diversity: Identifying Mentors” we discussed the importance of having a diverse workforce. Creating a strategic initiative to address diversity through mentoring is a competitive edge for organizations competing in today’s global marketplace.
Unfortunately, a lot of organizations implementing mentoring programs do not hit the mark. Don’t overlook the significance of creating a process to increase your chances of successfully grooming mentees. Mentoring programs can succeed or fail based on the organization’s commitment to this process and the importance it places on mentoring as it relates to organizational objectives.
Here are seven key points to help mentees succeed:
- Align the Mentoring Program with Business Objectives. Ensure that the leadership team is bought into the success of the mentoring program by aligning it with organizational goals. Understand the “why” behind developing a diverse group of future leaders and how it will help the organization as a strategic goal. This strategic goal should be given priority to supersede individual functional metrics to help break down potential barriers to the participation of the mentee (i.e. give mentees the time away from daily tasks and responsibilities to participate in the program).
- Establish Criteria for Acceptance into the Mentoring Program. While not everyone wants to be mentored, many do. Create criteria to see who qualifies in your organization to become a mentee. These criteria can vary per department and level within the department. Criteria should be adjusted to make sure the pool of applicants is diverse. (i.e. how long they have been with the organizations or completion of internal/external tests, training, or certifications).
- Market the Program to Engage Potential Mentees. Building employee awareness of the mentoring program helps attract a more diverse pool of applicants. Develop an internal marketing strategy to get employees excited about applying for the program. Continue the marketing after the first group is selected to keep employees engaged and build the pipeline of interested employees for the next group.
- Create Profiles of Interested Mentee Candidates. Each potential mentee should have a profile so the organization can evaluate, track, and monitor interested mentees for consideration into the mentoring program. Each candidate can be given training outside of the mentoring program to close gaps in performance and ensure they have the required certifications, skills, etc. to enter the mentoring program when possible. A “depth chart” can be created to give a snapshot of the mentoring program pipeline and progress. This depth chart allows the organization to make sure a diverse group of candidates are ready to be considered for opportunities as they arise.
- Pair and Train Mentors and Mentees. When pairing mentors and mentees consider the mentee’s developmental and career goals, as well as the mentors’ competencies, function, job experience, and background, etc. Ensure that there is mutual respect between mentor and mentee so that the pairing is not counterproductive. Once paired make sure to provide enough training to both parties so each knows their role in the relationship. Mentors and mentees need to understand the ground rules of the mentoring program as well as their responsibilities…don’t assume they already know them.
- Monitor and Evaluate Mentors and Mentees at Predetermined Check Points. It is important to monitor the mentorships before, during, and after the pairing to ensure they are receiving all the training and resources they require. Predetermined checkpoints should be used to ensure forward movement is occurring toward predetermined individual mentee goals. Progress and successes can be noted in the mentee profile.
- Allow Mentees to Evaluate Mentors. It is a best practice to allow mentees to evaluate the mentors at the completion of the program. This will allow the organization to make sure they have the best possible mentors grooming their future leaders. Keep track and measure the progress of the overall program as well to identify whether the mentoring program is meeting organizational objectives.
Mentoring within an organization can increase diversity, retention, and engagement while building a stronger leadership bench. Take a structured proactive approach using these seven steps to see a positive impact in the future.