Before Oprah Winfrey became the Queen of All Media, her mentor, Maya Angelou pushed her to make the jump from news anchor to local talk show host.
Before J.J. Abrams was the director of two Star Trek films and two Star Wars films, his mentor, Stephen Spielberg, supported his early filmmaking endeavors by giving him notes on his scripts, producing some of his films, and even recommending him for directing jobs.
A mentor can be the springboard in your career that takes you all the way to the top. And for new hires at your company, immediately pairing them with a mentor signals to them that you take their career trajectory as seriously as they do.
But building a mentor program requires a lot of planning and effort. You can’t just pair a mentor with a new hire and set them loose. You need to strategically select mentors for each new hire and intentionally set expectations and a roadmap for the relationship.
Fortunately, we’ve put together a framework for doing exactly that. Read on to learn how to build a mentor program that will be the fuel for your new hire’s career growth.
To run a successful mentorship program, it’s best to set up a system where your established employees can sign up to become a mentor. The best mentors are the ones who are actually passionate about advising people, so they’ll gladly raise their hand to join the program.
In order to select the best possible mentors for your new hire, consider having those interested fill out a quick form about their background, why they want to be a mentor, and what they can bring to the table. Depending on each of your potential mentor’s roles, make sure they have enough years of experience and the skillset to truly help your new hires reach their potential.
After you vet each mentor and choose the best ones, match them with a new hire who’s in the same department as them (doesn’t have to be the same team), has similar career aspirations, and has compatible personalities.
To level up in their careers, mentees need to focus on enhancing three core competencies: their hard skills, soft skills, and network. Here’s how you can train your mentors to help them offer the best possible guidance to their mentees.
Honing job-specific skills is a pretty straightforward endeavor, but mentors can help expedite their mentees’ progress by first understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Then they can work together to build a plan to find opportunities to employ their strengths and improve their weaknesses. And by making a concerted effort to execute this plan, mentees can ultimately achieve their goals.
Humans are social, emotional creatures. Learning how to be a delight to work with is just as important as honing your job-related skills. To move up in the working world, people need to enjoy working with you and, in turn, vouch for you. So when it comes to soft skills, just like with their hard skills, mentors should work with their mentees to identify their strengths and weaknesses, then employ and improve them. It’s also crucial for mentors to lay out the inner workings of their organization so their mentees can navigate the structure of their company in the best way possible.
You can be the most talented, highly skilled professional in your industry, but if no one knows who you are, then you’re severely stunting your potential for growth. Building an extensive network not only helps you acquire new knowledge and sharpen your skills but it also boosts the chance of getting a referral for a job opportunity that you might not come across otherwise. Mentors can help their mentees grow their network by giving them the chance to tap into theirs.
A successful mentorship program needs standards. Make sure to set expectations for your mentors on:
Remembering these guidelines can be a lot for your mentors, though. So consider assigning them as tasks in your onboarding automation platform. It will automatically send reminders and notifications to your mentors that you can set up in advance.
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