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Mentorship Insider Presents: 4 Mistakes Mini-Series Mistake #1: Lacking a Defined Objective

Mentorship can be a support to a number of people initiatives in an organization, from increasing employee engagement, supporting inclusive leadership development, to connecting more experienced people to new ones, to general career pathing, etc. 

 

A well-defined goal helps you and your participants. Without a specific objective, it’s challenging to align mentorship with your overarching strategic priorities. It’s also challenging to help your people understand how this fits into their own priorities and professional development. 

 

Leaving this out or unclear is one of the most common mistakes we see when organizations create mentorship programs, and more frequently as they’ve been running for a period of time, the goal gets lost. Let’s take a look at steps you can take to avoid this pitfall. 

 

Instead, identify your “why mentorship”

 

Identifying what needs to be accomplished with your mentorship program is the first step in the right direction. This is the reflective, big-picture, dreaming stage of program design. To get to the heart of this, here are a few questions to ask yourself to get started:



  • What pain point or opportunity are we addressing?

    • What is the specific challenge or opportunity that you’re thinking of using mentorship to support?

    • What change are you looking to support or create? 

    • Are you addressing an existing challenge? Or trying to leverage a timely opportunity? 

    • What long-term organization or department priorities does mentorship support?  

  • What are those priorities? 

  • How are they being measured? By who? 

  • How will we know “mentorship” worked?  

    • What will be different? For who?

    • How will you see or observe those differences?

    • What behaviours or skills change as a result of participating? 

  • Why are those important to you? 

    • What are the immediate results or outcomes you're looking for? 

  • What about the mid to long-term ones? 

  • Who do we want to support? 

    • Define the individuals - both mentees and mentors - you want to support: 

      • New hires?

      • Specific departments? 

      • Students? 

      • Alumni? 

      • Early-stage career professionals? 

      • People from a particular community? 

    • What are the characteristics of the mentors and mentees that will be best served by this initiative? Get specific here.

    • Who has been asking for this? Or who are your likely early adopters?

  • How will mentorship solve this problem?

    • Make the connection between the identified problem/pain point/ opportunity, and how mentorship will serve as a solution.

A few other considerations 


  1. Don’t do this part alone; involve your program committee if you have one or a few key team members. Too many people at this stage or too little are not helpful. You can (and should) involve others once you have a “working version”. 

  2. Research can prove inspiring. It can be helpful to explore if/how other organizations have used mentorship to address a similar problem/opportunity and the outcomes of those situations.

  3. Remember, a successful program results in long term relationships and measurable outcomes that last well beyond the mentorship program. 

  4. Once you have a “working version” of your program’s objectives, sit with it for a few days. Then shop it around. Share with a few other key stakeholders, including the people you are creating this program with and for. This is your chance to get their reactions and bring their feedback back to your design program. Ask them: 

    1. Does that resonate? 

    2. What parts of this resonate with you? 

    3. What is missing? 

    4. What is the most important part of what I shared to you? 

  5. Lastly, manage your expectations. Depending on what you landed on from the above, it maybe that you’ll need more than one program to accomplish all of your goals. If you see a number of diverse goals in your brainstorm from above, prioritize them and identify which one makes sense to tackle first.  

Example: Reducing Employee Turnover


Let’s say your organization is paying attention to recent workforce trends and has made it a priority to focus on retention through a multitude of initiatives over the next 24 months. 

 

1. What pain point or opportunity are we addressing?

  • Pain Point: Risk of High Employee Turnover

    • Frequent turnover disrupts team stability and productivity.

    • Loss of institutional knowledge and experience.

    • Costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training and team morale.

  • Opportunity: Improve Employee Engagement and Retention 

    • Create a positive work culture.

    • Foster a sense of belonging and career growth.

    • Align employee goals with organizational objectives. 

2. Who do we want to support?

  • Historically we’ve seen our most consistent turnover in our new hires and would like to add another layer to our onboarding process to see how it impacts turnover (either expedite it if we did hire the wrong people or reduce it to retain the right ones). 

  • Mentees will be new hires in any division/department or function, for the first 6 months of their time with the company. 

  • Mentors will be existing employees, who have been with the company for at least 1 year from any department. We’d like a cross-section of departments, functions, and employee experiences represented.  

3. How will we know “it” worked?

  • Metrics and Evaluation:

    • Employee Retention Rates:

      • Monitor changes in turnover rates post-mentorship implementation.

    • Employee Satisfaction Surveys:

      • Measure satisfaction levels and perceived value of mentorship.

    • Promotion and Career Advancement:

      • Track career progression and interest of mentors.

    • Feedback and Participation Rates:

      • Assess the quantity and quality of feedback from mentorship pairings.

  • Qualitative Indicators:

    • Improved Team Dynamics:

      • Observe enhanced collaboration and communication within teams.

    • Employee Testimonials:

      • Collect narratives on positive mentorship experiences (from both parties).

    • Cultural Impact:

      • Evaluate if/how mentorship contributes to a positive organizational culture (bake this into your existing employee surveys and/or feedback mechanisms).

4. How will mentorship solve this problem?

  • Knowledge Transfer:

    • Experienced employees share insights, reducing the learning curve for new hires.

  • Enhanced Engagement:

    • Building a supportive network within the organization.

    • Addressing concerns of new hires and helping them create solutions.

  • Culture Building:

    • Reinforcing company values and culture.

    • Encouraging a sense of belonging and commitment.

  • Leadership Development:

    • Developing leadership skills (such as coaching, listening, time-management, inspiration, etc.) in mentors, strengthening the leadership pipeline. 

By systematically addressing turnover challenges through mentorship, this program aims to create a more engaged, satisfied, and productive workforce while leveraging measurable metrics to gauge its success.

 

Further Goal Setting Insight


  • According to a report by LinkedIn Learning, companies with clearly defined objectives for employee development initiatives reported a 30% higher success rate in achieving targeted skill development outcomes. Explore this article delving into the rationale behind employee initiatives and offering guidance on establishing effective objectives for your program!

  • Upon discovering that almost half of departing employees attributed their exit to insufficient growth opportunities, Schneider Electric proactively addressed the issue. The prominent energy enterprise introduced a talent mentorship program, aiming to revolutionize internal mobility and provide employees with the autonomy to steer their professional development.

 

By slowing down in the beginning to ensure you achieve a clear goal for your mentorship program, you’re setting yourself and your mentors and mentees up for success. You now have a goal to align the “how and what” to something you’re aiming towards as you put your program structure, resources, and evaluation into place. You will be clear on how to evaluate the success of your investment in mentorship. 

 

Stay tuned for mistake #2 at the end of this month. If you’re looking for feedback or feeling really stuck at this step, happy to hop on a quick call and provide some fuel to support your design.

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