In the run-up to National Mentoring Day on 27th October, we have been considering why an organisation should have a mentoring scheme and how best to encourage potential mentors to step forward to support mentees.
National Mentoring Day was founded in 2014 to celebrate, connect, educate and support mentors, mentees and mentoring initiatives, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential through access to mentoring. In 2016 the Day was inaugurated as an official National Day at the Houses of Parliament.
This annual day attracts widespread press and social media interest. It is therefore a great opportunity for an organisation to showcase their commitment to investing in people and supporting education, enterprise and society.
The benefits to an organisation
Mentoring can be linked to an increase in staff engagement, leading to higher staff retention. A mentoring programme demonstrates that an organisation is investing in the employee's personal and career development. Mentoring is also linked to increased productivity, always a bonus for any organisation. In addition, mentoring is linked to an improvement in the employee's skills and knowledge. Whilst it also improves the leadership, communication, management skills and confidence for both the mentee and the mentor.
There is no downside to a mentoring programme for the organisation, the mentors and the mentees.
Barriers to signing-up potential mentors
For a successful mentoring programme, an organisation clearly needs mentors and mentees! As most people are keen to develop their skills, knowledge and ultimately their careers, it is not too difficult to sell the concept of mentoring to mentees. It can, however, be more difficult to sell the concept to potential mentors.
The key barriers to a potential mentor can include: time, skills, experience and a lack of confidence in their own ability.
Time – whilst the potential mentor may have many demands on their time, their concern is likely to be that they will be signing up to an open-ended commitment. Set out to the potential mentor the average level of commitment mentoring will require, both in terms of numbers of hours per month and the length of the mentoring relationship.
Skills – a successful mentor will have the following skills: active listening; building trust; encouraging; instructing/developing capabilities; inspiring; and ability to identify goals and current reality, give constructive feedback, manage risks and open doors. Set out to the potential mentor that ultimately their role is to listen to, guide and support their mentee. Skills that they will no doubt already have.
Experience – they may not yet be an experienced mentor, but this is their chance to gain the experience! Their "qualification" for being a mentor, is that they have already walked some, if not all, of the path that the mentee is looking to walk. Therefore, they will have a lot of wisdom, knowledge and connections which will benefit the mentee.
Lack of confidence – potential mentors do not necessarily recognise that they have knowledge, skills, experience and connections which could benefit a mentee.
Marketing the mentoring programme
Like any product or service, the marketing of the mentoring programme is essential. The marketing should set out the benefits of the programme – both to mentees and mentors and should respond to any potential barriers.
The marketing should take place not only at the programme's launch but also throughout its life. Marketing could include: case studies and testimonials demonstrating the impact of mentoring on the mentee and mentor; identifying mentoring ambassadors who will encourage others to get involved; holding events to educate team members on what is mentoring and the benefits for both the mentee and mentor; information on the organisation's intranet, internal newsletters and posters etc. around the office; including it within the organisation's performance development process, i.e. have you considered being a mentor/mentee; and through celebrating National Mentoring Day on the organisation's social media accounts.