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Advice for Businesses
How to Scale a Mentoring Program
Let’s take a very common scenario:
You have a small but valuable mentoring programme. Participants are engaged, are hitting milestones and having a positive impact on your company. Now you want to emulate this success, but you have a small team, limited resources, and you’re struggling to match enough mentors to mentees. You’re considering their skills, interests, and experiences to ensure the perfect match, all the while dealing with the stress that comes with solving compatibility issues, monitoring success, measuring ROI, and dealing with other projects.
This is similar to the problem Pavilion (formerly Revenue Collective) had. They’d already established mentoring, but hit the “how to scale a mentoring programme” roadblock. They were matching mentors and mentees manually, and it was taking 1 hour to match 3 people. With a small team, how were they going to reach their mentoring programme goals?
In this article we’ll explore the different things you should consider when scaling your mentoring program…
Why you should scale your mentoring program
Let’s say you have a junior employee who is 6 months into a mentoring relationship. Their manager has noticed that they’re more confident, they give more engaging presentations, and communicate more effectively with clients, resulting in higher sales. These results could be replicated among other members of the team.
Scaling your mentoring programme influences your wider business by improving communication and empathy between teams. It improves mental health outcomes by decreasing isolation, improving retention, and inspires employees to reach new goals and participate in company culture. Mentoring helps to establish a company culture that shows you care about investing in employee development and wellbeing.
And don’t forget the stats: Mentors are 6x times and mentees are 5x more likely to get promoted. 87% of both mentors and mentees develop confidence, and feel empowered by their mentoring relationship. On top of this, 81% of those with mentors go on to mentor others, and so the more people you can impact via mentoring relationships, the wider it will naturally scale.
So how do you scale a mentoring program?
Taking a successful program and increasing its scope is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Depending on staff resources and budget, many teams struggle to grow their programs beyond small groups. However, it can be done.
Consider the following steps to scale your mentoring programs and begin to build a mentoring culture.
1. Establish or reinforce your program goals
Every successful mentoring program has a clearly defined objective. In order to scale your program, you need to know what you’re aiming to do and what success looks like.
LVMH set out a goal to reach 50/50 gender balance in key positions by 2020. They knew that partnering women with senior mentors would help them achieve this goal and reinforce their company culture of equality and inclusion. By using a mentoring platform to scale their mentoring program, they were able to reach a wider number of participants in a shorter period of time.
Creating or reassessing your program goals forces you to identify which aspects of scaling you’re struggling with, and how to best improve them.
- Onboarding – You want to guide new employees through the new workplace and give them another, trusted point of contact.
- Improving your talent pipeline – You want to decrease money spent on hiring by promoting internally.
- Women in leadership – You want to reach a 50/50 gender balance in key positions.
It’s always worth revisiting the goals behind your programs before you try and scale them further. Have the previous programs been successful against the goals outlined? Is there anything that needs to be changed before attempting to run the program at scale?
2. Identify potential mentors
As your program grows, you can track the skills most sought by mentees to help you recruit more mentors with those skillsets. This will help you spot trends and identify any skills gaps within your workforce. You can do this manually through surveys, or you can collect the data automatically using a platform such as Guider.
When looking to scale your mentoring program, you will also need to re-engage a fresh batch of mentors. You could run an internal campaign to get previous mentees to give back and become mentors. As always, emphasise the fact that mentoring benefits mentors also – they can use it to reach their own goals of leadership development, coaching skills, and communication.
Ensure you have a strong pool of mentors (and mentees) ready to join the program once it launches, otherwise it will never scale. This can be a challenge, so make sure you dedicate enough time to recruit before launching. Find more tips on recruiting mentors and mentees here.
3. Use automated matching
As mentioned earlier, while it’s possible to match mentors and mentees manually, it requires a lot of time and energy that small teams can lack. This works fine for small programs, but when you want to impact hundreds of employees, it becomes unmanageable. Manual matching takes significantly longer and can even be subject to personal bias, potentially complicating any goals related to women, LGBTQ+, disability and BAME inclusion.
With automated matching via mentoring software, participants can create their own mentoring account where they fill in details about themselves, their position, their interests and what skills they’re looking to develop. This takes the matching admin away by generating a list of the best mentor matches within your organisation. The mentee then selects which mentor they’d like to contact, encouraging them to be proactive and giving them ownership in creating their own success.
Automated matching saves time, removes bias and diversifies pairs. Using a platform like Guider allows mentees a stake in selecting the most relevant mentor for them from a list of best matches.
Here is a guide for more info on mentoring matching.
4. Provide resources to help mentors & mentees
Successful mentoring as a form of development requires mentors and mentees to dedicate their time. As your mentoring program grows, you’ll find an increasing number of participants struggling to keep up with the program.
By creating a library of resources for each program, you empower participants to seek the help and information they need. Being able to access information easily will save time, so mentees are less likely to put off their next mentoring session due to extra researching tasks.
Put together a library of blogs, white-papers, e-books and videos that are relevant to your program. Mentoring platforms like Guider already host a library of resources which are customisable to include your organisation’s own materials. As the name suggests, Guider guides participants through the relationship by delivering the resources in a flow throughout the mentoring journey, rather than all at once at the beginning.
“We’ve not had to run any internal mentoring training sessions to get people signed up or engaging with mentoring since using Guider. Having everything in one place, including a customisable learning library, has made mentoring training self-serve and more accessible.” – Naomi Boachie-Ansah, Senior Digital Learning & Platforms Advisor, Clyde & Co.
Mentoring is a gradual process, so a steady flow of information keeps the programme moving at a steady pace. Read more about Clyde & Co’s mentoring success here.
5. Track outcomes
Finally, track the progress and outcomes of each mentoring relationship and individual. Have they hit their goals? What did they struggle with? What did they enjoy the most?
A final survey at the end of their mentoring program will allow you to take on feedback and adapt plans for future participants. We’ve put together an e-book on the ROI of Mentoring, to help you plan, measure and report the impact of mentoring on your business.
In the end, Pavilion were able to scale their mentoring program, increase their success rate, and decrease the time spent by their small member success team. A solid scaling plan increases the engagement rate of your mentoring program, and sets the tone for a supportive, inclusive and empathetic company culture.
Interested to see how we can support you? Book a demo now.