Mentorship programs have many advantages for career guidance, skill development, belonging.
However, there's a pattern that shows the key reasons that cause mentorship programs to fail.
And there's a time on when it would make sense to look for a Mentoring Software.
Let's take a look.
Poor Matching: Matching criteria must differ based on the goal of the program. Is it career guidance, training, belonging or all? For example, for a career guidance program it is better to match employees that are not in the same department however, for a training program, it is ideal that they have the similar skillset but at different levels.
Poor Training: Not everyone are great mentors. It's an acquired skill. To do so some training is required for best practices. For example, it's not a mentor's job to tell what to do, but to explore options with wisdom. A mentee shouldn't really ask "would you be my mentor" but instead ask a meaningful question.
Poor follow up: We're all busy. Mentoring is a voluntary activity. It is okay that mentors and mentees may forget what to do next or lose inspiration. At this stage, asking them to schedule the next meeting is not enough. Try providing some discussion points aligned with the goal of the program. Is the program aimed at career guidance? A follow up that goes out to talk about 3 different career roles the mentor had and which roles the mentee is interested in exploring is a good discussion point.
Poor structure: At some point, goals, meeting frequency and method, confidentiality topics, and duration must be discussed and written down. Without aligned expectations, the relationships will get cold and awkward. It is also helpful to share the mentoring style the participants prefer.
Disconnected participants: The pandemic actually helped improve this piece with a lot of people getting accustomed to online communication tools. On the other side, if participants don't have a ready to go structure with communication, goal tracking and learning solutions, the relationships get cold because of a lack of structure and reminders.
If you're debating on a Mentoring Software, here are the main aspects a Mentoring Software helps with:
For Participants (mentors and mentees): Structure & Connection
How will mentors and mentees know clearly who they have a relationship with
Mentoring expectations, confidentiality, communication and meetings
Goal setting and defining action plans that last
Actually exchanging the knowledge through learning
Joining groups and mentoring circles
For Admins (program managers): Automation
How will matching work?
Are we going to provide training?
Are we going to follow up with participants and let them know what they can do next?
How are we going to check in if the relationships are working?
For Leadership: Reporting
How are we going to know if mentors and mentees enjoyed the program?
How will we know if they made progress?
What are the key outcomes that would make us offer this again?
If your program is growing over 20 participants, we strongly recommend looking into a Mentoring Software so you can