Mentorship Program Template: A Guide to Creating a Mentoring Program
Looking for a mentorship program template? Studies show that 79% of millennials believe mentorship is critical to their professional career success. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. So, if a mentorship program template and strategic mentoring programs are not a top priority, they should be.
HSI’s mentorship program template will not only help you develop future organizational leaders within your company but will also bring together employees with diverse backgrounds and levels of experience. This will create better relationships and a more cohesive team.
What Is a Mentorship Program?
Let’s get started with some basics. Mentors are experienced employees who share their wisdom openly and fairly, without reservation. Mentees are employees who have shown potential for growth. Some are new to the industry, while others are ready to move into leadership positions.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” – Bob Proctor, author, speaker, and motivational coach
A mentoring program creates relationships between employees, mentors, and mentees. This allows for the development and transfer of knowledge and information, while helping employees grow professionally. A mentorship program template is a step-by-step outline on how to create and execute a successful mentoring program.
Mentorship Program Benefits
The benefits of strategic mentorship programs have an ongoing and profound ripple effect. Within your company, there is a wealth of invaluable knowledge, skills, and insights to be shared. One simple word to a mentee could be career changing. It truly is a valuable experience.
According to a Harvard Business Review survey, mentors experienced lower levels of anxiety and described their job as more meaningful than those who did not participate in a mentorship program.
Here are numerous benefits mentors, mentees, and companies receive from a mentorship program.
- Rejuvenates seasoned professionals by sharing their years of knowledge and experience.
- Opens minds to hear new hirers' or recent college graduates' prospective.
- Fosters middle management leadership development.
- Gains the support and motivation from a trusted advisor.
- Improves chances of success in current position with experienced unbiased guidance and clear direct feedback.
- Initiates future opportunities through networking and self-discovery.
- Shortens learning curve by sharing knowledge about company culture and business model.
- Cultivates new ideas that may not have otherwise been heard.
- Strengthens employee engagement as bonds are created and learning and experiences are shared.
- Improves employee satisfaction and retention. Employees feel valued.
- Promotes diversity and inclusion through greater understanding.
- Balances business goals with professional development.
Mentoring Program Template: Steps to Create a Mentoring Program
To help you get started, we've organized the mentoring program template into nine steps. You can download the worksheet and start planning.
Step 1: Determine the Mentoring Program Goal
It is imperative that you define the mentoring program’s goal. Keep in mind that the goal addresses your company’s pain points. Ask the following questions to begin your mentoring plan:
- Is there a need to develop future organizational leaders? Will current key leaders be retiring within the next 5 years?
- Will you be hiring or promoting first-time managers who need management development support?
- Have you recently gone through a hiring frenzy, and new hires need to be nurtured?
- Has your company experienced a merger or acquisition? Would your company benefit from having mentors and mentees connect across the merged or acquired companies?
- Are many of your valued employees leaving the company? Will a mentorship program help employee retention?
As a newbie at a former employer, I was thrilled to learn about the corporation's mentorship program. You see, I had been at my previous employer for over 20 years. My new corporate culture was drastically different from the one I was accustomed to. I was disappointed to quickly learn that my grade level was too high to participate in the mentorship program as a mentee.
Unfortunately, I saw middle management employees who joined the company come and go. This was due to the inability of many to adapt to the vastly different company culture and the lack of mentorship. A true missing piece in their corporate mentorship program.
Obviously, their mentorship program did not stress matching goal with pain point. I survived. I proactively sought out a long-time employee who became my “unofficial” mentor. This was the best thing I could do for myself, given the circumstances.
“Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.” – Junot Díaz, author, professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner
Step 2: Select a Sponsor
A sponsor plays a critical role in the overseeing of the mentorship program. They cannot be overlooked as part of the mentorship program template. Choose an executive-level employee for the role. They must be fully committed to the program for the duration and have time to invest in supporting the mentoring committee. They are the mentoring program’s spokesperson. The sponsor is one of the essential components of the mentoring program.
Step 3: Create a Mentoring Committee
After choosing a sponsor, you’ll need to form a mentoring committee. These employees manage your mentoring program. You may refer to them as mentorship program managers. They must be willing to commit for the long term and should be respected within the company. Their roles in the mentorship program are as follows:
Manage Mentoring Program
- Determine the type of mentoring relationship that meets your company’s goals.
- One-to-One: A long-term relationship between two employees.
- Flash Mentoring: A one-time meeting between the mentor and mentee.
- Group Mentoring: One mentor sharing knowledge with several employees in team meetings.
- Reverse Mentoring: A young mentor shares knowledge. Such as a tech-savvy employee discussing emerging technology trends.
- Set ground rules that reflect how formal or informal the mentorship program will be.
- Duration of Mentoring Program: Typically, a mentorship program lasts for a year but will vary by company needs.
- Mentor & Mentee Introduction Procedure: What is the mentoring process? Does the mentee contact the mentor, or vice versa? Should you host a company kick-off meeting?
- Mentor & Mentee Meeting Frequency: How often should mentors and mentees meet? Twice a month for an early morning coffee before work? Once a month over lunch? Or a scheduled time during the workday?
- Ensure mentoring program aligns with your company’s culture.
- Formal Application Mentoring Process: If your culture is on the formal side, application forms will be in order. The employee will fill out an application, requesting to participate in the mentorship program. They will choose to be either the mentor or mentee.
- Specifics Between Mentors & Mentees: Will the program have things such as a set list of discussion topics or questions, training courses, and book recommendations for the mentors and mentees to discuss?
Step 4: Promote the Mentor Program
Because of the impact and rewards of a mentorship program, it’s important to broadly communicate the program specifics.
If you’re back-filling retiring leaders, then the invitation and promotion will be directed to the promoted employees, only. Remember not to openly promote invitation mentorship programs. You don't want to disappoint anyone who is not eligible to participate, based upon the goals of your program. If the mentorship program is open to all employees, then you have more options to promote the program.
Mentorship program action items may include:
- Meet with managers and explain the program prior to the roll-out. Provide managers with a Q&A sheet to answer immediate questions, once the program is officially launched.
- Your HR portal, such as ADP, is an obvious go-to. Employees look for new announcements on this home page.
- Targeted employee emails may be the best way to promote the program to remote workers.
- Hang posters by the coffee machine, in the lunchroom, and by the time clocks. Place flyers on everyone’s desks.
- Utilize your intranet site and favorite apps, such as Slack and Teams. It’s an easy task that will spark attention with likes, comments, and enthusiasm.
- As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to consider a kick-off meeting. What better way to generate excitement and team comradery? It’s also a good time to share contact information.
In all communications, be sure to note how to participate and the application details, along with the final due date. Stress how the program will benefit both the mentor and mentee. For effective program promotion, allow a few weeks to enroll, so no one misses the opportunity.
Step 5: Match Mentors and Mentees
The enrollment period has ended. Now, it’s time to match program participants into groups or pairs. The pairings are based upon your pre-determined program structure. Simplify your selection process. You could pair program participants by work schedule, geography, and department, but ideally, these are the best things to consider:
- Level of experience? New hires, long tenure with the company, etc.?
- Expectations? Transfer to a different department? Manage others within their current department?
- Who will they be compatible with during the mentorship? Will a dominant, assertive leader mesh with a quiet, introverted high-performer? Will a young, working mom relate well with a single, older man who does not have kids?
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” – Steven Spielberg, film director, producer, and screenwriter
Step 6: Draft Best Practices & Mentoring Agreement
As we discussed in Step 3, based upon how formal the company culture is, the program may warrant a formal mentoring program. It will include best practices and an agreement. The committee may choose to work on this while the mentorship program is being promoted.
The best practices formalize the mentor and mentee relationship. It may prevent future issues, such as misunderstandings of the mentorship time commitment.
Step 7: Launch the Program
You’re now ready for HR to launch the mentoring program. This is an exciting time! You’ll want to continue the momentum you built while promoting the program.
You may choose a town hall kick-off meeting format or a Zoom call with both mentors and mentees in attendance.
The kick-off meeting is a great time for the sponsor to speak about the goal of the mentoring program. Make sure to introduce and thank the committee members for their commitment to the success of the program.
After the sponsor speaks, HR explains the ground rules and program expectations. HR also discusses how tools, such as 15/5, will be used for check-in points.
Finally, share more exciting news... mentorship program training! So that everyone benefits from the mentorship program, training should be provided to both mentors and mentees before mentorship begins. Training should encompass mentoring topics, as well as soft skills training.
Mentors or mentees only follow-up meetings may be in order, based upon mentoring program goals.
Step 8: Monitor Progress
Because of the time commitment and value of the program, it’s important to monitor progress.
- Check for Goals Achieved: For instance, is the mentor receiving knowledge and support for their development? Is it based upon their career goals?
- Check In Periodically: The committee should check in with both the mentor and mentee periodically. Such as, after the first month, at the 6-month mark, and at the end of the program.
- Utilize 15/5, ADP, or SurveyMonkey Tools: These programs from your toolkit are great check-ins to monitor progress. Solicit feedback from both mentors and mentees.
- Review Assessments and Make Modifications: If justified and beneficial to your program’s goals, adjust the mentorship program. Keep in mind, you may find you need to repair some pairings.
Step 9: Have a Formal Wrap-Up
Typically, the duration of a mentorship program is one year. But some may span an entire career as the bond was so strong. They may choose to continue their mentorship “unofficially.” In any case, it’s important to host a recognition event. Mentees and mentors may share what they learned from each other.
A feedback survey should be part of your formal wrap-up. This is helpful in seeing if the program needs improvement for the next roll-out.
The mentorship program may continue based upon the company’s goals and needs. For example, maybe the first year, the focus was on new hires. Now, the goal is to have succession action plans. And to mentor the company's future organizational leaders.
HSI hopes our mentorship program template serves helpful. Please download our pdf mentoring program template worksheet for a reference tool.