Some mentoring relationships can work well from day one, while others need a push in the right direction. As employees deal with busy schedules or unclear goals, mentoring relationships can falter without the right support.
According to HR Magazine, 30% of mentees said that their mentoring relationship failed because the program lost its momentum. In this article, we’ll explore why mentoring programs lose momentum and what program managers can do to solve or prevent this.
Whether you use a mentoring platform, such as Guider, or not, there are plenty of ways you can maintain mentoring momentum!
Why do mentoring programs run out of momentum?
There is a wide range of reasons mentoring programs lose momentum, including:
- Poor mentor and mentee matches, resulting in a personality clash and a loss of motivation
- Lack of structure or training
- Mismatched expectations
- Unrealistic goals that leave the mentee unmotivated
- Utilising the wrong types of mentoring for your goals
What can Programme Managers do to maintain mentoring momentum?
Program Managers must ensure the right amount of support is available for mentors and mentees to prevent the above from happening. Here are some tips for those responsible for mentoring in the organisation:
1. Outline clear objectives
One of the first things to do when building your mentoring program is to outline a clear objective that reflects the business or team’s goals and values. This gives both you and the participants a guide to follow and shows stakeholders why they should care.
For example, is the program all about graduate career development? Or is it to drive change in diversity and inclusion and create upward mobility for under-represented employees? Having a clear purpose gives your mentors and mentees perspective over the wider impact of their sessions, leading to greater investment.
This is also the time to think about the types of mentoring that work best for your goals. We all know the benefits of traditional mentoring, but have thought about reverse mentoring, peer mentoring or group mentoring? Each one can align with your objectives in a different way.
Make these objectives visible and easy to access to remind participants what they’re working towards and why it’s important. For example, host them on the mentoring landing page when people sign up.
2. Set the right amount of structure
You want a mentoring program to emphasise the relationship between the mentor and mentee. Creating a rigid program removes the human connection, and can put too much pressure on individuals. But a too loosely structured program means participants lose interest due to confusion, lack of direction, and not knowing who to turn to.
The right amount of structure depends on the individuals. E.g a more experienced senior mentor may already have experience mentoring junior employees. In that case, a great way to show that you support and trust them is to let them have more say in where to steer their sessions. However, in many cases employees are new to mentoring, and will therefore need more guidance and support:
- Outline the structure so people understand the expectations
- Create program checkpoints so that the mentor and mentees know they’re on the right track
- Create a timeline and milestones so participants have a motivational goal to work towards
- Create a hub for resources in case they need extra support
You’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. So encourage participants to make use of frameworks such as SMARTER, GROW and PDP. This helps them to be proactive while giving them the freedom to set their own goals.
3. Think about mentor matching
One of the biggest indicators of a successful mentoring relationship is a compatible mentor match. You can match mentors and mentees manually, or use mentoring software, such as Guider, to save you time. Either way, it’s important to give mentees an element of choice in who they match with, as they are more likely to be invested in the relationship.
We’ve written a guide on mentor matching. Our mentoring platform makes it easy, but it’s also important to let participants know what help and guidance are available if there’s a personality clash. Mentor matching can be tricky and people tend to drop off without communicating if they feel too embarrassed to speak up when it hasn’t worked.
You can also learn a lot from existing relationships. Assess what is working well and not so well in the current mentoring pairs and learn from them. Collecting confidential feedback from mentors and mentees can teach you a huge amount about what makes a successful mentoring match.
4. Get enough leadership mentoring support
You may have leaders in the business advocating for mentorship and supporting your program, but have you tried recruiting them as mentors?
Encouraging senior leaders to become mentors creates a ripple effect throughout the company, giving the program more weight and legitimacy. They also help to promote the program through word-of-mouth when speaking to colleagues about mentoring successes, and encouraging others to mentor.
If you feel your program is losing momentum you can do a recruitment push for more mentors, targeting the people with the most influence in the organisation.
5. Create a community buzz
And finally, create a community buzz. When participants feel like a part of a wider community, they’re more likely to feel engaged. To do this you can:
- Announce your new mentoring program with a webinar and Q&A
- Host mentor/mentee events
- Announce program checkpoints
- Share updates in newsletters and slack channels
- And celebrate success
This also creates a reminder for employees to sign up or check in.
With a mentoring platform like ours, you can find support in building a mentoring community that lasts. With our dedicated engagement team, we help you to promote your program, run events and guide you on the best times to step in and create a buzz throughout your program.
What can mentors do to maintain mentoring momentum?
Mentoring benefits not only the mentee but the mentor as well. Mentoring develops a whole host of leadership and communication skills, and mentors are even more likely to get promoted than those who do not mentor. Read up on the benefits of mentoring for mentors for more detail.
It’s important for mentors to really understand why they got involved with mentoring and what they’d like to get from the experience. This way they have a personal stake in the relationship besides their mentee’s development.
Embrace mentoring as a learning experience
Think of mentoring as a personal learning and development experience, with the opportunity for mentors to develop their coaching and leadership skills.
- How does it impact them professionally?
- What skills are they looking to develop?
- The importance of building internal relationships
As a program leader, you should encourage mentors to engage with learning resources and training, particularly if they are first-time mentors. Encourage them to identify areas they want to work on, and to set goals for themselves.
Provide a safe space
Effective mentoring requires participants to feel comfortable with being open and vulnerable with each other. Momentum can be lost when they don’t feel comfortable sharing what they’ve learnt, or what they struggle with.
Mentors’ stories of personal development can inspire mentees, and encourage them to open up. They should also establish confidentiality and boundaries, and ensure that mentoring sessions are a safe space, with no hidden agenda. A space where they can be open and honest with each other. The more open things are, the easier it is to get to the root of an issue and make progress.
What can mentees do to maintain mentoring momentum?
Mentoring is a two-way relationship, and it’s a common misconception that the mentor does all the work. At Guider, we believe in mentee-led mentoring, and so the mentees select a relevant mentor for them and drive the relationship, such as leading on booking sessions and setting an agenda. This instils responsibility in the mentee from the onset of the mentoring relationship, setting a precedent for them to keep up the momentum.
Similar to ‘managing up’ (anticipating a manager’s needs and taking initiative), a mentee should be encouraged to be independent and hold themselves accountable.
For example, this could be by taking a proactive approach and being the first to communicate with their mentor. They should be encouraged to understand their mentor’s priorities and pressures, creating less tension and allowing the pair to focus on building a positive mentoring relationship. It acts as a form of personal development for the mentee, improving their emotional intelligence, communication skills, leadership, and confidence.
As you can see there are myriad ways that you can maintain mentoring momentum in your organisation. With the right type of mentoring, proper planning and strategic promotion, you can ensure your program is built to last.
Find out more about how our mentoring platform can help set you up for success by booking a chat with the team below