5-Step Guide & Best Practices to Plan Your Next Hybrid Mentorship Program
"I don't think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship. Nobody makes it alone," says Oprah Winfrey, who has been vocal about the role of her mentors in her career progression.
Amidst changing work dynamics, mentorship can guide employees to excel in their roles and stay engaged (while bringing in profits). Gallup's recent employee engagement analysis shows that businesses with an engaged workforce generate 23% higher profits.
This piece will share the steps and best practices for setting up a hybrid mentorship program.
🧑🤝🧑 Why mentorship matters in a hybrid workplace
Remote and hybrid models are the new(and welcomed) ways of working. But it comes with its own set of difficulties.
A Gallup study found seven significant challenges of hybrid working:
- Feeling less connected to the organization's culture;
- Decreased team collaboration;
- Reduced cross-functional communication and collaboration;
- Fewer opportunities for feedback;
- Less recognition;
- Fewer development opportunities;
- Unclear expectations and priorities.
A mentorship program tailored explicitly to a hybrid work model can address these issues. And also make up for the gaps in hybrid workplaces due to limited human connections.
➡️Trying to reduce hybrid work stress? Learn how to create a hybrid work schedule to harmonize remote and office work.
👀 Why do you need to adapt your mentorship programs?
Why does a mentorship program have to be tailored explicitly to a hybrid work environment? Let's look at the three major reasons behind it.
The evolving workplace
The first reason, without a doubt, is workplace change.
With transforming workplaces, the mode/frequency of communication changes and challenges vary.
Therefore, any program conducted will also evolve as per the situation.
🚨 Check out 15 hybrid and remote work trends you cannot afford to ignore.
It's not only about the workplace. New generations of workers are joining in now.
Gen Z and Millennials prefer to get more guidance and feedback.
Hybrid work can be lonely. On top of it, a workforce looking for feedback but not getting it can only increase frustration. A mentorship program can provide periodic feedback to these individuals.
The evolving role of leadership
Lastly, hybrid offices need coaches, not bosses.
"Today, the mindset of the talent that's coming in is such that they want that level of empowerment, and they want that level of freedom to think creatively.
Today's problems are too complex for a manager to solve on their own. They need to empower the teams and coach them when required," says Sunit Sinha, Head of People, Performance & Culture, KPMG.
The hybrid model adds additional steps in coordination.
For example, one may no longer walk up and ask a quick question to a colleague sitting in the next cubicle. But they might have to schedule a call for it.
So, empowering employees by mentoring them to get things done independently is also beneficial and time-saving for your business.
🔮 Discover the latest hybrid and remote work statistics explaining the future of work.
🔍 3 Types of mentorship in hybrid settings
Now, you have all the valid reasons for launching a mentorship program. Let's see three types of mentoring in a hybrid setting.
It is the most basic form of mentoring where each participant or mentee is matched with one mentor.
HR could handle the process of marching participants based on the requirements they fill in a form.
Alternatively, participants can look for mentors themselves. In the traditional approach, this is more of a top-down approach where senior executives guide junior employees.
Opposite to the traditional mentoring approach, peer mentoring is where both mentors and mentees are of similar experience levels and help each other grow.
The conventional system of having senior employees as mentors helps groom talent or succession planning.
Meanwhile, peer mentorship is helpful in collaborative learning and development.
Mentoring circles are small groups of people with common interests who meet regularly for professional growth. Mentoring circles help with networking, accountability, and getting diverse perspectives from different group members. It is also excellent for knowledge-sharing.
🤩 4 Core values of an effective hybrid mentorship programs
Before we get into the steps of creating a mentorship program, it's essential first to understand the core values or features that will make the program effective.
Here are the four ingredients of an effective hybrid mentorship program.
What if the program you planned meticulously for employees' benefit starts feeling like a burden to them?
That indeed sounds horrible.
Building a flexible program will save you from such a scenario.
Of course, the flexibility of time and communication mediums is the bare minimum in a hybrid workplace.
But further flexibility also matters in how one approaches the mentorship program.
Adswerve, an advertising agency, has a mentorship program for new hire onboarding. Alyssa Towns, Organizational Change Manager at Adswerve, shares with us how they achieve flexibility in this program:
"Our HR department provides a skeleton structure for our mentorship program, allowing each pair to customize the experience to fit their needs. It includes a new hire mentor checklist with goals for the program, a recommended meeting structure, and ideas for conversation topics.
Ultimately, it's at the discretion of the mentor and mentee to determine how to use their time together and what issues they need to cover that are top of mind to them."
Working from home saves commute time but cuts down socializing.
As human beings crave connections, loneliness and feeling disconnected at work are the top challenges of working remotely. An empathetic mentor who can discuss these new work challenges will give the mentee a safe place to vent and find solutions.
Traditionally, mentorship focuses on the professional aspects of roles (which are essential). Still, mentorship can also accommodate relationship-building and instill empathy in a hybrid workplace.
For example, it can be an opportunity to recreate water cooler talk, lunch runs with coworkers, and hallway conversations about weekend plans.
With an added layer of hybrid workplace changes, it's even more important to be intentional in mentorship programs.
Running an inclusive program(regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or age) can build trust, improve a sense of belonging at work and retain talent in today's competitive labor market.
After spending so much time setting up a mentorship program and matching mentors with mentees, the last thing you want is for none of them to meet up again.
An initial plan you share with them will provide the basic expectations for mentors and mentees to stay accountable.
Plus, you can conduct remote surveys to check if things are going as expected.
➡️ Learn how to use work nudges to solve the challenges of a hybrid workplace.
💡 5 Steps to create an effective mentorship program in the hybrid workplace
With the core ingredients, it's time to get hands dirty with implementation, diving into the five steps to creating a mentorship program.
1. Define clear goals and type of mentoring
Firstly, the clarity has to be at the organizational level on why you are launching a mentorship program.
Some goals can be:
- Smoother onboarding;
- Promoting diversity;
- Reskilling employees;
- Boosting employee morale and motivation;
- Succession planning.
This goal will decide the type of mentoring. For instance:
- If the purpose is onboarding, you can opt for peer mentoring.
- If the aim is succession planning, you need 1-to-1 mentoring to pass on the details.
- If the intention is to boost employee morale, a mentoring circle can be excellent for promoting growth and networking.
2. Define the structure
Have a skeleton structure ready that covers the following points:
- How to sign up for mentorship?
- How will mentors and mentees get matched?
- How long will the program last?
- What level of time commitment do you expect from participants?
- What's the best way for participants to communicate with each other?
- How often will the mentor and mentee meet?
- How will the progress be tracked?
3. Onboard participants
Different employees will have different motivations for joining a mentorship program.
An overview of the program's goals and benefits will set clear expectations early on.
Further, you can ask questions to participants in the sign-up form regarding their expectations. It will make the matching process easier.
4. Match participants and share the structure
With a clear structure and participants onboard, the next task is to match up participants. You can:
- Match participants manually
- Allow participants to self-match and find a mentor on their own
- Use software to match participants based on the initial input in the form
After matching, you can do a short induction meeting to share the structure or share it via email. Further, participants can customize the plan as per their needs.
5. Evaluate program effectiveness
First, you can collect participant feedback to check if the program is going on track.
Then you can go back to your goals to measure program effectiveness.
- If the program is for onboarding, you can check the average time-to-productivity for new hires.
- If the program is for succession planning, you can check how many times you didn't have to firefight when a senior executive resigns.
💡 5 Best practices for mentoring programs in the hybrid workplace
The above five steps will create the base for a mentorship program. Further, you can use below five best practices to enhance employee experience.
1. Avoid front-loading
"The error made in most mentorship programs is front-loaded efforts, with employers spending a lot of time pairing employees and ramping up the system, only to leave mentors and mentees to (hopefully) forge a path to success." Jeffrey Zhou, Co-Founder & CEO, Fig Loans.
Instead of spending the entire time matching up participants, spend enough time on what will create the value, which are:
- A clear structure for mentorship to help the mentor and mentee make the best out of the program.
- Clear benchmarks and thorough progress tracking.
2. Train mentors
"Mentees in remote settings may deal with extra stressors as they work from home with fewer outlets for support. Ensure mentors are trained to discuss and support mentees regarding the unique issues that arise from hybrid workplaces." Ruben Gamez, Founder & CEO, Signwell.
Mentoring someone is a huge responsibility. And one might know how to handle a challenging situation empathetically and guide a mentee in the right direction. Initial training for mentors will ensure they are better equipped to help the participants.
3. Use technology
If something can cut through the distance or complexity created by remote or hybrid work, it's technology.
Use technology to:
- Create simplified communication channels;
- Automate check-ins;
- Celebrate wins (Ex: Reward programs, Shout outs on Slack);
- Collect feedback.
4. Create a working document
"I recommend making a living document. During the call, the mentee can jot down notes, and the mentor can drop links to resources. The mentee can drop in questions between calls, and mentors can leave reminders." Grace He, People and Culture Director, TeamBuilding.
Writing can structure these conversations and also increase accountability.
A working document helps to better prepare for the next session. It also becomes a helpful record for the mentee to revisit later.
5. Keep it scalable
"I think where companies go wrong in this is that they don't think about the scale challenge. Even if I set up a spreadsheet or an intranet site where people can sign up, that tends to not scale across the organization." Sarah Haggard, CEO of Tribute, a peer-to-peer mentoring app.
This point again comes back to the usage of technology. Avoid manual work as much as possible to scale up the program.
➡️ Create a well-structured mentorship program with Zavvy
So much of the above conversations have been around using technology, making the mentorship program scalable, and keeping it well-structured. You can do it all using Zavvy.
Use Zavvy to:
- 📝 Define a structure for your mentorship program.
- 👬 Match mentors similar to our process of matching onboarding buddy matching surveys.
- 💪 Train mentors and mentees.
- 💬 Send learning nudges.
- 👥 Schedule chats.
- 🔄 Collect feedback.
- 🌱 Track progress and performance.
Book a demo with one of our experts today to get one step closer to creating your hybrid mentorship program.