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How to develop a successful mentor program

1. Take a grassroots approach

Most mentor programs begin with a grassroots approach. Formal education programs generally aren't successful without the support of employees and those who will benefit most from such a scheme. Once you have the support of staff, bring their concerns to leadership. Without the support of management, you won't have the funds needed to run a successful mentor program. If you start with leadership however, you may find yourself in charge of an excellent education program without an audience. Learn how to get the balance just right and don't be afraid to start small.

2. Seek a consultant

Creating a mentor program isn't as easy as it looks on paper. There are a lot of things to consider and mentorship program can fail if you don't plan accordingly. Professional mentorship consultants can help you decide on how to pair mentors and mentees, what kind of training will be provided and how success will be measured. Consultant can save you a lot of time and money and are worth the investment for medium-to-large programs.

3. Train your mentors

You can't expect mentors to know how to train staff without first begin trained themselves. Mentors need to know what their role is, how often they are expect to give input, what is considered confidential and how to establish productive mentor relationships. Without preparation, your mentors will likely still be somewhat useful, but to be truly effective, they first need to be shown what it means to be a mentor.

4. Evaluation

As we said, funding is important. For leadership to justify continued support for a mentor program, you'll need to find a way of quantifying your success. This may be measured in productivity, job satisfaction or otherwise, but you will need to collect information that you can use to show how mentoring positively effects the workplace.

5. Back to grassroots

As your mentorship program evolves, staff will complete their training and move on, mentors may become unavailable due to other commitments and so on. Implementing a mentor program requires a strategic approach and you'll need constantly analyze your environment. Identify who needs training and who doesn't, who might respond positively to having a mentor and who won't. Always make sure that those who are given responsibility are invested in the program and know when it's best to try another approach.