Does your team have a structured development or mentorship program in place? Different from coaching and training, which involve teaching different skills, mentorship involves examining a team member’s career trajectory and working closely with them along the way.
When done well, mentorship programs can benefit your team in several important ways. For example, when you pair a mentor and mentee on your team, you often help boost employee engagement, accelerate learning and promotion, and optimize productivity.
Developing a successful mentorship program takes thoughtful planning and proper strategies.
You should hold a kick-off conversation
The first step of a mentorship program is conducting a virtual or in-person meeting between the mentor, mentee and the team leader who oversees the team. By asking questions such as “Where do you see yourself in two years? 10 years?” and “How do you best learn?” the team leader helps the mentor and mentee establish goals and find a mutually beneficial discussion style.
You should outline roles and responsibilities
The goal in this step is to clearly define the answer to, “What’s in it for me?” If you match team members arbitrarily, you will not help either one.
You should create a tangible playbook
The team should develop a playbook that the mentor and mentee can print out and flip through. The playbook should include a checklist that builds skills in the order newer team members will need them. Consider identifying the skills needed on day one versus day 90 and writing your playbook accordingly.
You may want to host a monthly lunch
Every month consider sponsoring a mentor lunch to show appreciation and to get a feel for what is working and what is not going so well. This is an opportunity can ask mentors where their mentees are falling short and common questions they are asking. By identifying two or three common themes, you can make those the focus of the next month.
You should develop an exit strategy
A successful mentorship program should always include a way for mentees to “graduate.” This could mean asking mentees to showcase their new skills or knowledge in a team meeting. Not only is this an opportunity for the new team members to step up, but it allows everyone else to learn as well. Remember that without a defined exit strategy, the mentee will never stop leaning on more experienced team members.
You must know your key metrics
It is important to understand if your investment in a mentorship program is paying off. You must be looking at metrics such as new opportunities created, the number of problems solved, and acceptance of more challenging aspects of projects. You will be able to see if mentees are making progress through milestones like the moment where they go from asking questions to answering them. If the program is working, mentees will get to a point where they can answer almost every question on their own.
Always spotlight the wins
The last step in a successful mentorship program is continually showcasing victories—including the small ones. Use your company intranet to recognize team members or tell a great team achievement in your next all-hands meeting.
Mentoring is a valuable way to help your new team members learn the ropes quickly and help your experienced sales reps contribute in meaningful ways.
You can establish a successful mentorship program by appropriately matching mentors and mentees, clearly articulating roles, and responsibilities, and building a playbook for the team members to reference. It is also helpful to connect regularly with mentors, plan an exit strategy, understand success metrics, and call attention to victories. When done right, mentorship programs can become fun learning experiences that lead to lasting relationships. And this will help you thrive.