This is why more and more organisations are turning to peer learning over traditional learning and development. It offers a cost-effective solution for continuous, collaborative learning that gets results. Best of all, your people may already be doing it.
So, what is peer learning and why is it so effective?
What is Peer Learning?
You may have heard the term already. With roots in the education sector, peer learning is a tool where colleagues, peers or, in education, students, come together to teach one another. Peer learning is essentially the act of learning with and from your colleagues. The concept isn’t new but is becoming increasingly common in the workplace as organisations seek new, innovative ways to upskill and develop their people.
When we bring people together through peer learning everyone participating learns and develops their skills. Peer learning includes mentoring, shadowing and lunch and learn programs to name just a few examples.
How is peer learning revolutionary?
Peer learning puts learning in the hands of people first. It draws on the expertise already in your business, creating pathways for knowledge sharing that don’t rely on external trainers or formal learning programs.
Tap into the experts that are already working in your organisation to share knowledge and upskill others. This not only means you don’t need to spend on external trainers but helps prevent knowledge from being lost when people leave the business.
Improve knowledge retention
One of the reasons peer learning is so powerful is that when we teach others what we know, it helps that knowledge to stick. It also develops social and emotional learning at the same time. By bringing peers together to teach one another, you’re reinforcing learning for all.
Create a learning loop
The ‘learning loop’ is a concept that describes the 4 continuous stages of learning. These are; gaining knowledge, applying it, getting feedback and reflecting on what’s been learned. Peer learning encompasses all of these, meaning it creates a loop that provides continuous learning and growth to participants.
Develop management and leadership skills
Through peer learning, your people can practice the communication, organisation and support skills needed by good leaders and managers. What better way to gain experience helping to develop people than working with them through peer to peer learning?
The advantages of peer learning are clear. It’s a cost-effective way to create collaborative and social learning across your organisation. With benefits to the long-term knowledge retention and development of your team, it’s no wonder so many organisations are turning to peer learning to revolutionise their learning and development strategy.
Ready to find out more? Book a call with our expert team today.
We’ve got a fantastic episode to kick off season 2 of Guided.
This episode we’re joined by Angie Vaux, Founder and CEO of Women in Tech forum, a global membership and coaching platform to help people accelerate and grow their career in tech.
Angie is passionate about coaching others to optimise their full potential, and is partnering with some of the biggest tech brands in the industry including Adobe, LinkedIn, and Slack. In this conversation we cover Angie’s diverse career background over the last 25 years and what led her to founding Women in Tech forum – the journey from the ‘boys club’ tech industry to where we are today.
“People who report having a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level of employees with a negative experience, and they are eight times more likely to want to stay at a company.” (McKinsey, 2021)
With employees asking for pay increases that are unsustainable, investing in your culture is an intrinsic part of creating an environment that goes beyond pay in retaining top talent.
Mentoring is a fantastic way to build a company culture that addresses the top areas of workplace culture that people are looking for. By connecting people for peer-to-peer and social learning, you can foster inclusion, provide tangible growth opportunities, and, with virtual mentoring, provide a flexible learning solution.
Focusing on capturing new talent and nurturing them is important in an industry where talent is continually ageing out. Building the processes where you can grow your own talent are vital for creating a resilient talent pipeline.
When growing your own talent, mentoring can play an important role in insurance onboarding and developing new starters as well as in their long-term career progression.
“As we seek to attract new people into the business, they have to know that there is mentorship and somebody that feels responsible or accountable for the development available to them.”Chris Conrade, Conrade Insurance Group
Building human connections is incredibly important. It not only leads to skills development and faster time to competency, but can support mental health and employee engagement too. By incorporating mentoring into your graduate or earn-and-learn schemes, high-potential employees will gain invaluable insight into the business.
Who better to get your new hires up to speed on the industry and company culture than your own people?
Go digital 💻
The final way that mentoring can tackle the talent crisis in insurance is through virtual mentoring. In our ever-more digital workplaces, there are many ways to continue to connect and develop your employees. We know that relying on traditional ways of working is no longer effective.
“Forced virtualisation of work during the pandemic has fueled revolutionary changes in employee expectations and upended many traditional employment models” (Deloitte, 2023)
Whether you’re still expecting in-person recruitment events to bring in new starters or thinking that in-person learning opportunities will still yield the same results they used to, it’s time to rethink the methods you’re using to engage your people.
Virtual mentoring is a great way to provide a flexible learning opportunity that can be used across remote and hybrid employees. Mentoring software, such as Guider, makes implementing mentoring across your organisation simple.
Through virtual mentoring, you can connect employees across the business, breaking down siloes and creating connections that have a big impact on employee happiness.
Working in insurance is a fulfilling and rewarding career. For top insurance companies to stay competitive, it’s important to focus on attracting and retaining top talent by moving with changing times. By utilising mentoring and peer learning solutions, such as Guider, you can improve culture, grow talent and tackle the talent crisis head-on.
Want to find out more? Book a chat with our team today.
The benefits of reverse mentoring are huge. From leadership development and closing generational gaps to using reverse mentoring for diversity and inclusion initiatives, it’s an essential part of your employee growth toolkit.
This type of mentoring pairs senior leaders with junior staff for personal development. Sounds like traditional 1:1 mentoring right? Well, the key difference in reverse mentoring is that the junior person acts as the mentor. They will provide advice and support to their senior colleague.
This is what makes reverse mentoring so powerful. It puts someone new in the driving seat, helping them to gain invaluable experience and impart knowledge and expertise to senior leaders in a structured way.
If you’re ready to transform the development of your people through reverse mentoring, then you’re in the right place. In this guide we’ll take you through 5 simple steps to starting a reverse mentoring program in your organisation.
If you want to learn more about what reverse mentoring means and its benefits, read our guide.
How to start a reverse mentoring program
Step 1: Outline the objective
The first step is to define the purpose of your reverse mentoring program. By identifying which use of reverse mentoring is most critical to your people, you can then outline what success will look like and how to measure it.
Objective of the program: Digital skills development
Method: The reverse mentoring program will pair junior employees with advanced digital skills with more senior employees that need to improve in this area. The mentors will offer training and support in digital skills the mentees want to develop.
Success: The mentees will have a greater understanding of digital skills by the end of the reverse mentoring program, and increased confidence in discussing technology.
Measure: Surveys and digital literacy tests before and after the program.
Step 2: Design the reverse mentoring program
Once the basics are mapped out, it’s time to work out the details. Here you need to outline:
Who will be on the program?
Are you selecting participants?
How many spaces will be available?
Will it be a set length or ongoing?
How do people sign up?
What is the expected commitment?
How will you monitor progress?
The answers to these questions will naturally vary from business to business and depending on the objective of the program. It’s important to be as detailed as possible at this planning stage to help your reverse mentoring program run as smoothly as possible.
Step 3: Recruit mentors and mentees
Depending on whether your program is open (anyone can apply) or closed (selected participants) you’ll be onboarding mentors and mentees differently.
Using mentoring software like Guider makes things easier, as you can simply send out a link for people to sign up and create a profile. Within minutes they can be matched with a mentor/mentee. If you’re doing things manually, this will take a little longer.
You will need to promote the program through your internal communication channels, as well as identify target participants and invite them personally. Remember to communicate the benefits of reverse mentoring and highlight the skills and experience they will gain.
You may need to raise awareness and answer questions such as ‘What is reverse mentoring’ through content, communications campaigns and events.
Step 4: Matching mentors and mentees
An important part of setting up a reverse mentoring program is deciding how you will match the mentors and mentees. This again may vary depending on how many participants there are in the program and how they have been selected.
Typically, matches are made based on the skill set of the mentor and the desired improvement areas of the mentee, as well as personality traits and common interests. Program managers can either do this manually, using spreadsheets and their own intuition of who could make a good match or using mentoring software such as Guider.
The issue with matching mentors and mentees manually is the risk of unconscious bias or favouritism at play. For example, if the person doing the matching knew some participants personally but had never met others, their choice of mentor/mentee could be affected.
Guider uses a matching algorithm to accurately match people with the best-suited mentors for them, removing human bias and supporting inclusivity. This is particularly important if you’re using reverse mentoring for diversity and inclusion purposes.
Step 5: Launch and monitor the reverse mentoring program
Once your participants are matched, you can officially launch the program! It’s good to commemorate the launch in some way to make participants feel like they’re part of something and build a sense of community. This will help to increase commitment and maintain momentum as the relationship develops.
In order to get off to a good start, provide support and resources to the mentors and mentees to help them navigate and build their new professional relationships.
Note: this is crucial when the reverse mentoring program is focused on diversity and inclusion. Both mentor and mentee will require training on approaching and discussing uncomfortable topics, empathy, self-awareness, and what to do if the sessions are not going well.
Track how frequently the mentors and mentees are meeting, and develop a sound system for receiving feedback from the participants to know if the program is working towards your desired business objective. As reverse mentoring is very qualitative programs are traditionally difficult to measure, which is where mentoring software again offers great insight and support.
Finally, continue to monitor the progress of the participants and measure the success of the reverse mentoring program against your objective. If you need further reading on how to start a mentoring program, this article is a good read.
By following these steps when setting up your reverse mentoring program, you’re setting yourself up for success! Whether you are looking to improve cultural competency in senior leadership or up-skill in digital technologies, reverse mentoring can help.
Want to learn more about how mentoring software can transform your reverse mentoring programs? Talk to our mentoring guides today!
We get it, mentoring and coaching are easy to confuse.
Given that they both relate to personal development and involve working with others to achieve goals, there are a lot of shared elements to coaching and mentoring.
Luckily, we’ve already covered the differences between coaching and mentoring in a previous article. Read it here if you need a refresher!
But what about the benefits of both practices? It’s one thing to know the differences but that doesn’t always tell you which one your workplace needs. That’s where we’re here to help!
Find out the top benefits of mentoring vs coaching below to help you make the right decision for your people.
What is coaching?
First, let’s define coaching. Coaching is the act of a trained coach working with a person, known as a coachee, on specific performance objectives, skills and goals. Sounds similar to mentoring, right?
Well, a key difference in coaching is that the coach doesn’t need to have direct experience in the industry or job function of the coachee. Instead, they use tools and techniques learned through training to develop them. They will not share their personal experience throughout the sessions, which means that learning is often more structured and focused in coaching.
“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve. Bill Gates (Source)
Coaches work on areas such as communication, confidence, and career planning. It’s all about unlocking people’s potential through targeted sessions that challenge limiting thoughts or beliefs.
What’s best about this tool is that it’s so focused on the individual. Through questions, exercises and other techniques, coaches work on the underlying issues that affect your team. Another bonus is that you can find trained coaches easily, confident in the knowledge that they are accredited and ready to help your people develop.
How can my organisation benefit from coaching?
The benefits of coaching on an organisational level are vast.
Offering coaching to your people shows your investment in their development. It’s a great way to up-skill your workforce and address the underlying issues that hold people back at work. As well as confidence, coaching can benefit mental health too.
By hiring coaches from outside your organisation, or training individuals internally, you can provide targeted support to develop your people.
Further benefits of coaching for your organisation include:
✅ Identify high-potential employees
✅ Improve individual performance
✅ Create targeted learning and development
✅ Improve retention, engagement and productivity
✅ Benefit mental health and job satisfaction
Coaching is the kind of benefit your employees are asking for. By providing them with 1:1 support from a trained coach, you’re investing in your talent and helping them to grow. This has lasting impacts on employee engagement, satisfaction and retention, as well as your bottom line.
Find out more about the different types of mentoring in our guide. Similar to coaching, mentoring involves targeted support for individuals looking to grow. However, in mentoring, mentors are there on a voluntary basis and will use their direct experience to guide their mentees. These relationships can last for a short time or a lifetime.
It’s a practice that’s been around since the age of Socrates and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon!
Participating in mentoring can increase self-confidence, self-awareness and help your people to practice communication and leadership skills. By learning from other people’s perspectives, or sharing your own, cultural competency will improve at your organisation.
Given that it’s voluntary, long-term and based on personal experience and connection, it can be easy to get started in mentoring. Whether through an informal mentoring relationship or using mentoring software such as Guider, there are many routes to mentoring.
The benefits of both coaching and mentoring include…
As you can see, both practices have major benefits for your people and your organisation. They both involve building trust and unlocking potential.
The common themes are:
Employee bonding and connection
Takes the burden off line managers
With all these benefits of running a mentoring or coaching program, which one should you choose?
Which do I need, coaching or mentoring?
Whether it’s for you personally or for your organisation, deciding whether you need to find a mentor or a coach is tricky.
If you’re looking to build lasting, long-term connections between your employees then mentoring could be right for you. It’s great for creating a culture of social learning and draws on the expertise of your existing employees – meaning less training is needed!
However, if you want to up-skill and develop your people with a more targeted approach, coaching could work better. Coaching is great for providing structured development programs that hone in on core skills and objectives.
The first step is to consider the problem you are trying to solve, what resources you have and consider whether coaching or mentoring is the right solution.
Once you understand the problem or need you are addressing, it should be clearer which one you need. From there, the only way is up! Setting up a coaching or mentoring program is easy with Guider.
If you’re looking for help setting up a mentoring or coaching program, we’re here to help! Talk to one of our expert team today and get going with Guider.
Hiring software developers and engineers costs money. Recruitment, developer onboarding and software developer training are not free and when your top employees churn you’re losing valuable knowledge, skills and morale. On top of this, many companies are grappling with a high risk of engineer burnout and an incredibly competitive hiring landscape.
With so many companies competing over pay and benefits, how do you attract, retain and develop top engineers?
This is where holistically developing your engineering team through learning and development comes into play. By utilising mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in your engineering team, you can go a long way to develop your engineers, retain talent and avoid burnout.
There are a number of reasons for this. The top reasons developers leave their jobs are cited as; seeking higher compensation, a lack of advancement in their current role, more career growth opportunities, and being unsatisfied with leadership.
This is bad news for company budgets with the average cost to replace a highly-skilled employee estimated at 213% of their annual salary. Given the competitive hiring landscape, many companies are struggling to compete to attract top talent.
Pay isn’t a magic fix, however. Even large companies such as Google and Amazon suffer from a median employee tenure of just a year. The problem is that unhappy engineers can easily be lured elsewhere by better compensation, but quickly experience the same struggles and burnout that they had before. So, if higher pay isn’t the answer, then we can quickly see that engineering teams need a solution that addresses the other root causes of employee churn. It’s time to look at software developer training, developer onboarding and pastoral care.
What tools can I use to develop my engineering team?
A key tool to prevent employee churn is learning and development. This is where mentoring, coaching and sponsorship play a key role (but more on that later!)
Often, engineers can feel as though they’re coding machines, expected to deliver high-quality results without being offered the pastoral and holistic care to help them develop. Utilising software developer training is an important way to develop your team.
There are two key ways that learning can become a core pillar in your retention strategy:
1:1 support in technical skills development
A major perk for attracting and retaining talent is providing 1:1 support. By pairing engineers with senior engineers for mentoring and skill development you can provide a key channel for continuous, collaborative learning in your team. This will also build relationships and networks.
1:1 support in holistic development
Through mentoring, coaching and sponsorship, you can provide support in wider holistic development. Because engineers are not just there to code. We all need a range of people and communication skills in order to progress in our careers. Whether you want to develop your team or inspire future leaders, providing the right development opportunities is essential.
When you support people to hone their technical and communication skills, build relationships, successfully navigate power structures and implement change in their organisation, it impacts not just their performance but how they feel at work.
Helping people to feel seen, heard and valued improves job satisfaction and engagement. This in turn affects retention, preventing employee churn. So, by offering core benefits focussing on learning and development you can tackle multiple areas at once.
For engineering teams, mentoring has multiple benefits. As codebases change, engineers need to be constantly learning to keep their skills up to date. By pairing engineers with a senior mentor, they can share skills and knowledge, creating a culture of social learning.
Mentoring can also up-skill your team in other areas such as communication, leadership, networking and confidence-building. It provides relationships outside of line management in which your developers can build their wider skillset.
The good news is that we know mentoring improves retention rates, with 72% retention for mentees and 69% for mentors. It can be used as part of developer onboarding and software developer training to make sure your hires want to stay.
Coaching is the practice of a trained coach working with groups or individuals to develop in specific areas. While it’s similar to mentoring, the main difference is that coaches do not need to have experience in what the coachee is going through to be effective.
This tool is great for developing communication and personal skills, showing your developers that they are valued for their whole selves, not just their knowledge.
The benefits of sponsorship for engineers
Finally, sponsorship is when a more senior person, the sponsor, acts as a champion to someone more junior, the sponsee. They focus on opening doors and putting the sponsee forward for opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
A sponsor will go beyond the role of a mentor and actively provide their sponsee with opportunities for progression, promotion and more. Sponsorship has wide-ranging benefits for career progression, as individuals that may struggle to put themselves forward for opportunities have a channel to find further support.
It is also a powerful tool for diversity and inclusion. We know that there’s a diversity issue in the field, with women making up just 16.4% of the IT workforce. Done right, sponsorship programs are a fantastic way to break down systemic barriers to career progression for under-represented groups.
How do I implement mentoring, coaching and sponsorship?
That’s where we’re here to help! With our mentoring software, you can set up and scale programs in mentoring, coaching and sponsorship with ease.
Our easy-to-use platform connects developers with the right people that can help them to:
We guide you through the whole process, from set-up and promotion to feeding back the ROI at the end of the program. The Guider platform is a secure and simple solution to embedding social learning in your company culture.
Implementing a mentoring, coaching or sponsorship program will lead to better retention, engagement and productivity, while also helping to prevent burnout. Your engineers are the backbone of your company. By proactively investing in their development, you can create a team that’s built to last.
Want to find out more about how we can help implement a mentoring, coaching or sponsorship program at your organisation? Book a chat with our team today!
At Guider, we support hundreds of mentoring programs across a range of industries and audiences through our innovative mentoring software, so we know the key to running a successful mentoring scheme. This is where factoring in mentoring events can help you to level up. A successful event will build excitement around your mentoring program and can help prevent program fatigue down the line.
So, with National Mentoring Month (January 2023) on the horizon, now’s the perfect time to get planning! Find out the Why, When and How of running a mentoring event below.
Why should I run a mentoring event?
There are a number of reasons why you should run a mentoring event. Whether it’s to promote your mentoring program or to celebrate your mentor and mentees, there are a number of benefits to mentoring events. Remember: these benefits apply to mentoring events for any of the types of mentoring. These include:
Increasing awareness of mentoring and your program
Answering questions and recruiting mentors and mentees
Creating a mentoring community
Creating content for PR and comms campaigns
Generating buzz and excitement for the program
Ultimately, the reason to run an event will depend on your program goals. It’s important to weigh up the benefits of the event with how much time and resources you have to ensure it’s a success. To do this, we recommend starting by identifying why you want to run an event.
We’ve identified three key times to run events and the reasons why below to help:
Awareness and launch
Before you launch your program, it’s a good idea to raise awareness of mentoring and how people can get involved.
If you’re running a program for the first time, your ‘why’ might be that you want to build excitement around your program. To do this, running an awareness or launch event is a great way to bring people together and spread the word about mentoring.
You can also use this opportunity to answer questions, gauge interest in the program and gather photos and quotes to use in your promotional materials.
This is a great time to educate your audience on the benefits of mentoring, what’s expected of them, and break down any common misconceptions associated with mentoring. You want to get people excited about mentoring so the moment the program launches, they are itching to sign up!
During the program, mentoring events can help boost engagement and participation. By bringing people together to celebrate mentoring or to recruit new participants, you can re-invigorate your program and keep up momentum.
If you find that, after the initial excitement, program sign-ups have decreased or session numbers are slowing down, then an engagement mentoring event could be the answer! This is a good time to strategically inject some new energy into your program, whether it’s from new participants or from incentivising your existing ones.
For programs with no end date, this is particularly important. It helps to add a little fuel to the fire during your program to prevent drop-offs.
Finally, a wrap-up or end-of-program event can be a great way to close a program – especially if you’re planning to run another mentoring program after.
Wrap-up events can be used to reward participation in mentoring, celebrate wins and spread the word about the next program. It’s important to recognise endings and give people the chance to properly thank their mentor or mentee.
They’re also a great way to gather photos and quotes for next time too! Here you can identify the next mentoring champions that will help you to scale or replicate your mentoring program.
You don’t need to run mentoring events at every milestone! It’s a good idea to assess your resources and program goals and think about why you might need an event and which one is the best fit.
Top tip: Set a goal for your mentoring event to help you to measure its success
How do I make the most out of a mentoring event?
Events are an excellent way to launch, promote and re-engage participants. However, there’s no one-size fits all way to utilise mentoring events in promoting your program. To make the most out of your event we recommend tying it into an awareness day or wider comms campaign.
Key awareness days throughout the year are an ideal opportunity to run an event on mentoring. Make the most of wider interest and promotion of mentoring by scheduling your event around:
If you are running a diversity and inclusion mentoring program, then look out for awareness days that support your community. For example:
International Women’s Day, 8th March 2023
Menopause Awareness Day, 18th October 2022
World Mental Health Day, 10th October 2022
Alternatively, you can sync up with Employee Resource Groups or your wider company events and comms strategy. Getting more people on board with promoting your event will help generate interest.
Further top tips:
Get senior leaders on board to champion your mentoring program and mentoring event!
Spread the word through managers and team leaders
Factor in seasonality to make sure the most people are able to attend
Take photos and get quotes to promote your program after the mentoring event
How do I run a mentoring event?
Running an event takes some careful planning and promotion, but it is possible to do it right. Once you have set your event goals and chosen when to host it, it’s time to get creative!
Below we outline three mentoring event ideas that you can run in your organisation. There’s one for kick-off, another for mid-program engagement and an end-of-program celebration.
Awareness mentoring event: National Mentoring Day speed mentoring
National Mentoring Day runs annually in October. It aims to spread the word about the benefits of mentoring and is the perfect time to promote your program.
Mentoring event idea: Run a speed mentoring event for your target program participants. Bring together a group of potential mentors and mentees to try out mentoring. Arrange mentors and mentees in pairs at small tables and set a timer for 2 minutes. At the end of the time, mentees must move to the next table and chat with someone new.
Benefits: Give people a taster of what mentoring is all about and introduce them to potential mentors or mentees. Use this time to let everyone know about your program and how to join, as well as offer the chance to ask questions and chat.
Things to think about: Remember to take photos and gather feedback to use in promotional campaigns later on. You can also ask senior leaders or mentoring champions to introduce the event and show they’re committed to the program.
Engagement mentoring event: mentor coffee morning
At the midway point, an engagement event will help you to re-invigorate your program and remind people of the benefits of participation.
Mentoring event idea: Bring together the mentors in your program for a coffee and chat event. Whether in person or virtual, mentors can swap stories, share tips and get advice on how to be a great mentor.
Benefits: Your mentors will benefit from networking with like-minded people and gaining insight into how to mentor effectively. These events are all about building community and making sure your mentors know how much they’re appreciated.
Things to think about: Take this as a chance to get insight into how your program is going and whether mentors need more support. Don’t forget to thank your mentors too and make sure they feel valued for their time.
Wrap-up mentoring event: end of program party
Ending your program on a high is important, especially if you’re planning another program. A good end-of-program event will leave people feeling valued and rewarded for their participation in mentoring.
Mentoring event idea: Plan an end-of-program party for all participants. As part of the event, you can hand out awards for most sessions and ask participants to publicly thank their mentor or mentee.
Benefits: If the budget allows, giving small tokens of appreciation for participants to keep is a great way to give people lasting rewards that remind them of mentoring. You can also use this event to identify new mentoring champions, encourage mentees to become mentors next time around, take photos and gather testimonials, build your mentoring community and announce your next program.
Things to think about: For an ongoing program with no end date, you can still run a celebration event. This will help re-invigorate your program, particularly if it’s followed by a re-launch campaign.
As you can see, running a mentoring event has plenty of benefits. It’s a great way to promote, invigorate and celebrate your mentoring program. It needn’t be a hassle either! If you need more advice on how to set yourself up for success, including advice on program timelines, events and promotion, then get in touch with our mentoring experts today.
Need help designing your mentoring program? Chat with our mentoring guides and find out how Guider’s mentoring platform can help you to get mentoring right in your organisation.
We all want our mentoring programs to be successful, it’s why we set them up and why we invest in mentoring software to support them, but there are key problems that can turn a mentoring program from full of promise to a total flop.
That’s where we’re here to help. Because while some mentoring programs may fail, yours doesn’t have to!
If you want to reap the rewards of mentoring in your organisation, such as increased employee engagement, lower employee churn and higher employee satisfaction, then it’s important to anticipate challenges before they happen. By understanding some of the common mentoring mistakes that can lead to program failure, you can set your workplace mentoring program up for success.
Why mentoring programs fail (and what to do about it)
There are a number of reasons that workplace mentoring programs can fail, from lack of direction to loss of mentoring momentum. Thankfully there’s plenty that you can do to ensure your mentoring program is set up for success.
So, let’s look at the most common workplace mentoring mistakes and what to do about them:
1. Not setting clear goals
Starting a mentoring program without a clear goal in mind is a common mistake. A mentoring program that doesn’t properly outline what it wants to achieve will by default fail. We need to know where we are going in order to know when we get there!
So, by setting clear mentoring program goals, it’s much easier to measure your success.
To run a 6-week cross-company reverse mentoring program to support BAME employees career progression. The program will reach X number of senior leaders to increase awareness, cultural competency and encourage action in tackling systemic barriers and bias in the organisation.
What’s the solution? ✅
Spend time outlining your program goal or goals. It’s best to do this in the design phase, but you can always retroactively define your goal if your mentoring program has already started.
When you have a clear goal set out, it’s time to sense check that your plans align with the people that you’re aiming to help. This way you can be confident that your program will have impact and maintain momentum later on. Find out more about designing a mentoring program for success in our guide
2. Low sign-ups
Another key problem that programs can face is low sign-ups. For many of us, mentoring sounds like a great idea in theory but this doesn’t always translate to people signing up for the program in practice.
There can be many reasons for low sign-ups. Whether it’s a lack of knowledge around what mentoring is, what the commitment of the program is or its potential benefits, there are many reasons people may be reluctant to commit.
What’s the solution? ✅ First up, it’s important to check the facts. Are the group or groups that you are aiming to help getting the information they need to understand what the program is?
When launching and maintaining a mentoring program, it’s important to be realistic about the amount of promotion you need to do to get people involved.
Here are our top tips for increasing sign-ups for your mentoring program:
Spread the word: Through your company intranet, internal comms, Employee Resource Groups and newsletters
Find your advocates: Get senior leadership on board and identify mentoring champions to help promote your program
Articulate the value: Through comms or events, it’s important that everyone understands what mentoring is and why they should join the program
Remove barriers to entry: Look at your program from the outside, is it easy to sign-up? If there are barriers to entry it’s important to identify and remove them where possible
Remember: When running your first program it’s better to have a small number of highly engaged participants over hundreds of less engaged people that don’t actively participate!
Focus on getting mentors and mentees that are enthusiastic and committed on board. These people will then become advocates of your program, spreading the word and helping your program to grow!
3. Disconnected mentors and mentees ❌
By disconnected, we mean mentors and mentees that are not engaging with the program or each other. They may have joined with good intentions but find themselves struggling to make time for mentoring – meaning fewer mentor matches and fewer sessions.
In the planning stages, try to be realistic about what internal comms you’ll run to promote your program. If this is a brand new scheme, you may need to run several campaigns to build excitement and awareness around your program.
Pay attention to matching too! Reminding participants that they can screen several mentors through chemistry calls will help people find the right match for them. Disengagement can happen when mentors and mentees aren’t connecting despite having shared experiences.
4. Not enough feedback
A solid process for collecting feedback on your program and using it to improve is one of the keys to success. By not factoring feedback into your program design you’ll be missing vital opportunities to guide your program.
While asking for feedback can feel uncomfortable, not asking is a surefire way to miss out on important information on the health of your mentoring program.
What’s the solution? ✅
Factor feedback into the design of your program. Use short strategic surveys at the start, middle and end of your program or at regular intervals for an ongoing program. This way you can find out how your participants are getting on and find any potential problems.
By using feedback effectively, we can better anticipate issues. It’s also valuable data to have to prove success and ROI, as well as collecting valuable marketing materials such as quotes.
Manually matching participants on your kitchen table may have worked well when you had 20 participants. What do you do now that your program has grown?
Sometimes too much success can be the cause of failure! By not anticipating success, we can create problems later on when we want to scale. If you want to reach more people, grow your program and impact more lives, then you’ll need to build your program with this in mind.
What’s the solution? ✅
This is where mentoring software comes in. With a mentoring platform, you can take the stress out of running a mentoring program. Leaving you to focus on making plans to grow your program!
Here at Guider, our smart matching algorithm does the hard part for you. You can trust that mentors and mentees will find the right person for them with our smart mentor matching, without the headache of managing the matching process manually.
Once you have a mentoring software solution in place, it’s easy to add more programs or expand the ambitions of your scheme. With our data reporting functions, you’ll be able to show the effectiveness of your program with ease too.
By paying attention to these mentoring mistakes in the design of your program, you can anticipate problems before they appear! Remember, building a successful mentoring program takes time. You’ll learn more and more with every program you try and you’ll build a bank of mentoring champions along the way.
Ready to start your mentoring program right? Book a chat with our team to find out more about how Guider can set you up for success.
By now we are all aware of the benefits of finding a mentor, but what about becoming one?
For many, identifying yourself as a mentor can feel… audacious. Stepping into the role of the trusted advisor takes confidence and a common problem is that many people just don’t see themselves as ready. I mean mentors are older, grey-haired, all-knowing entities, right?
Wrong. There are key characteristics that any great mentor has that do not require 30 years of industry experience and a top-level job title. You likely have some or all of these qualities already and if you are looking to grow professionally or prepare for leadership, becoming a mentor could be just what you need.
So, what are the characteristics you need to be a great mentor and how do you know if you make the cut?
What are the top characteristics of a great mentor?
You are a great listener
Listening is not just a core characteristic of a great mentor but of a colleague, manager and leader.
As a mentor, a big part of your role is to create a space in which your mentee feels safe, validated and heard. While you will impart wisdom and advice, it’s important to remember that your job is to listen to your mentee first and foremost.
If you already count yourself as a great listener or are trying to grow in this area, becoming a mentor is a great way to do this. Try practising the art of listening, validating and responding thoughtfully. It’s a key way to build positive relationships, show others that they are supported and prepare yourself for senior leadership in which listening is a key, yet underrated, skill.
You are invested in others
Mentoring requires investment on both sides of the relationship to work. As the mentor, being able to commit time and energy to your mentee is essential.
If you’re someone that genuinely enjoys helping other people to learn and grow, and gets personal satisfaction from helping others in the process, then you could be a great mentor.
Investing in others also has profound benefits. Mentors report feeling less stress and anxiety than non-mentors, plus they often find a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction in their work.
Your job as a mentor isn’t only to give advice. There is learning to be done on both sides of the relationship. By adopting a growth mindset and an open mind, a mentor can benefit enormously from the relationship.
Mentoring opens up your network to a range of different people and perspectives. Throughout the relationship, you will be working together to learn how best to achieve the development goals set out for the mentee. In order to do this, a mentor needs to stay flexible and attentive to how they too can adapt too.
Staying open-minded about what you can learn from your mentee will turn you from a good mentor, into a great one.
You are respectful and responsive
Similarly, a great mentor is both respectful of others and responsive. Your mentee will bring with them their own life experience and perspective, the goal of a mentor is to help them grow and to do that you need to create space for them to be themselves.
Respecting differences, whether it’s of opinion or life experience, creates the right environment for mentoring to work. Without this, the mentoring relationship would be negative and unproductive for both parties. Imagine sitting down with someone for a mentoring session only to find that they are disrespectful of your thoughts and opinions.
“Every day that you come into contact with different types of people and work through different challenges, issues, successes, you learn something. Every single time you have a conversation, you learn something about people’s behaviour, you learn something about their motivations, and you learn something about yourself…it’s rich, it’s rewarding…it’s a win-win.” – James Newton-Brown, Head of Product Development at Marks & Spencer
We all know that feedback can be as tricky to give as it is to receive. But constructive, tactfully delivered feedback is essential for personal growth and development. As a mentor, you need to be comfortable giving and receiving feedback so that both sides of the mentoring relationship can develop. Feedback isn’t a one size fits all process. There are many different tricks and techniques to doing it well, the key is to work with your mentee to find the right way to deliver constructive criticism.
Learning how to tactfully deliver and receive feedback is an essential skill. It’s also another vital skill in management and senior leadership positions. If this is a skill you have or are looking to grow, you might make an excellent mentor!
Hear first-hand from our fantastic clients Clyde & Co the benefits of becoming a mentor. Find out more below
You have relevant knowledge and experience
Last but not least, having relevant knowledge and experience that you can impart to a mentee is a must. But hold on before you think you need to be an expert in your field before you can become a mentor.
The point of a mentor is that you use your experience to guide others. This doesn’t mean having all the answers. Supporting someone to work things out for themselves is a more powerful way to learn than simply being told what to do.
As a mentor, you may have experiences that you don’t count as mentor ready yet. Completed a few rounds of appraisals? Managed a team? Successfully transitioned career? These are all skills that many people value and need advice on.
You don’t need 20 years of experience to become a mentor, in fact, it can be more helpful to provide advice when you are closer to a specific problem or experience.
Remember: Knowing all the answers doesn’t necessarily make you a good mentor but guiding someone to the right answer does!
Becoming a great mentor isn’t about age or job title, it’s about your attitude and the skills you bring to the table. With some positive self-reflection, many more people will find that they have what it takes to become a mentor than they realised.
There are many different ways to mentor someone. For example, peer mentoring is an excellent way to develop your skills and confidence as a mentor before stepping into a traditional 1:1 relationship.
So, if you have some or all of these top characteristics then why not give mentoring a go?
Want to find out more? Talk to us by booking a demo and find out how Guider can help you to create a smart, scalable mentoring solution for your organisation.
Psychological safety is the feeling that there will be no negative consequences from speaking openly, sharing critical information or being vulnerable. It can apply to our personal relationships and at work.
It’s essential in mentoring for creating the right space to learn and grow together, which means taking psychological safety into consideration
You can factor psychological safety into the design of your program by setting clear expectations, providing training, thinking about location and factoring in feedback
In any relationship, psychological safety and trust are at the core of how and why that relationship works. This is especially true at work and in workplace mentoring. Unfortunately, psychological safety at work is a concept that you’re most likely to come across when you experience a lack of it.
By understanding what it is and how to build it, we can transform our workplaces and mentoring programs. This goes hand in hand with creating inclusive workplaces too, as we need to feel seen, valued and heard to feel included.
Sounds great right? But what is psychological safety in the workplace and how can we build it in mentoring programs?
What is psychological safety in the workplace?
Put simply, psychological safety is the feeling that there will be no negative consequences from speaking openly, sharing critical information or being vulnerable.
In the workplace, this means that employees can freely share their thoughts and ideas without fear of doing harm to their careers. A company or team with good psychological safety is one where everyone feels respected and accepted.
This is particularly important in relationships such as workplace mentoring, in which the purpose is personal growth and development.
When there is a lack of psychological safety, people don’t feel comfortable sharing ideas, expressing themselves or challenging one another. This leads to a loss of innovation and creativity and inhibits learning.
What are the benefits of psychological safety at work?
There are wide-ranging benefits to creating psychological safety in your workplace and in your mentoring program. In fact, a multi-year Google study found that the single biggest contributor to successful, high-performing teams was psychological safety.
And this makes sense, given that psychological safety makes people feel included, valued and connected, as well as encouraging people to share ideas openly, which leads to innovation. When we feel valued in our relationships we are much more likely to thrive. This also goes hand in hand with making workplaces more inclusive, as both activities share the same goal.
Further benefits include:
Higher levels of trust
More room for creativity
More engaged and productive teams
Improved mental health and lower stress
Faster learning and growth
It’s important to remember there are benefits to psychological safety at work for leaders and mentors too! Everyone needs to feel safe to ask questions, try new things and show vulnerability. When this happens, there is more space to build trust and rapport, leading to growth. In leadership, psychological safety is a powerful tool.
When people feel psychologically safe in their relationships, the sky is the limit.
What happens when there is a lack of psychological safety?
Unfortunately, many people may have experienced a lack of psychological safety in the workplace, which has lasting impacts on how we feel at work and in new mentorships.
It can lead to:
Lack of confidence
Inhibited innovation and creativity
Culture of fear and blame
Stress and poor wellbeing
Lack of employee engagement
Higher attrition of staff
Avoidable mistakes and danger
As you can expect, teams and relationships in which people don’t feel safe to be themselves, share ideas or be vulnerable are detrimental in a number of ways. It can lead to poor morale, employee churn and, in worst cases, employee burnout. This is why it’s important to be aware of creating a culture of psychological safety and pro-actively work to do this.
So, why not implement a mentoring program to increase psychological safety in your workplace? Or factor workplace psychological safety into your existing mentoring program? With some careful consideration, it’s something that you can build into the very fabric of your mentoring experience.
How do I create psychological safety in my mentoring program?
The good news is that you can level up your mentoring program to encourage psychological safety from the start.
Here are our top ways to build psychological safety in your mentoring program:
Set clear expectations
In order to commit to mentoring and open up to learning and growth, participants need to understand the boundaries and expectations of the program.
As a program lead, it’s important to communicate clearly what the aims of the program are, who it’s for, and what’s expected of participants. Make sure everyone is aware that mentoring is a confidential relationship and not related to performance reviews.
“Mentoring relies on mentees being more vulnerable, so it’s crucial to remove it from their performance reports and distance it from their line managers, assuring that layer of privacy. Megan Taljaard, Learning and Development Business Partner at ASOS
If there’s a lack of psychological safety in your organisation, you will need to do some groundwork to build trust in the program before asking people to join. To do this you can; run awareness events on mentoring, trial a pilot program, build up a bank of mentoring champions and identify strong senior leaders to spearhead your program.
It’s the responsibility of us all to build psychological safety at work. To support this, you can provide both mentors and mentees with resources and training to help them to understand what psychological safety is and how to build it. If you’re using mentoring software such as Guider, resources such as this are built into our mentoring platform’s learning hub.
You can also encourage learning as a mentoring community. For example, bringing together mentors to swap stories and advice can help them to feel comfortable being vulnerable. Admitting we don’t have all the answers can be hard, but vulnerability is an important step in creating a culture of safety and trust.
Here at Guider, our new Learning Hub includes articles and videos on topics such as creating psychological safety and more. We also run training sessions at strategic points throughout programs from kick-off to close, to teach people how to be good mentors and mentees.
Think about location
Incorporating safe spaces for your mentors and mentees to meet is a great way to reinforce confidentiality. While psychological safety comes down to how people interact, it’s important not to forget how our surroundings can affect how we feel.
For some, speaking in a private room feels like the safest way to ensure confidentiality. Yet for others, a crowded coffee shop is the winner. Offering several dedicated spaces for mentoring is essential for allowing participants to build psychological safety together.
Don’t forget that you can also offer virtual mentoring for remote or hybrid workers and global teams to connect from the place that works best for them.
Admitting that we don’t have all the answers is a powerful tool in leadership and in building psychological safety at work. This starts with program leads too!
Factoring feedback into your mentoring program will keep you on track. It also shows a willingness to be vulnerable and ask others for input. Role modelling this behaviour in the design of your program shows your mentors and mentees that their feedback is valued and that it’s ok to ask for guidance.
Cultivating psychological safety in workplace mentoring takes thought and time. In the long term, this can be the single biggest way to ensure the success of your mentoring program and your workplace culture in general. By understanding psychological safety at work and factoring it into the design of your mentoring program, you’ll go a long way toward creating the right environment for your people to make the most of mentoring.
To find out more about how mentoring can supercharge your organisation, book a chat with us today.