Mentoring programs are capable of improving the workplace in incredibly significant ways. The programs can assist employees with their overall work performance, job satisfaction, and goal-setting skills. Furthermore, mentoring is a great way to introduce new employees to the industry and their fellow coworkers. These programs help to build an encouraging and open work environment that promotes employee’s personal and career development.

Over 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies utilize some type of mentoring program and the popularity of mentoring programs is steadily increasing. A business can reap a plethora of benefits by implementing a mentoring program, including retaining the top talent by providing employees with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

One very effective approach to mentoring is including it as part of the onboarding process. Mentorship can help to transfer key information to new hires in a very natural way. More so than shadowing, mentoring can help team members to pass on knowledge of a company’s systems and procedures.

A mentoring program must be adapted based on the specific needs and objectives of the organization. There are three very broad areas of mentoring: Peer mentors, career mentors, and life mentors. It is important to note that the three types of mentoring are not exclusive and one mentor can provide help and insight in all three areas.

A peer mentor is often the most common for a new employee as they can help to introduce the mentee/new employee to the culture of the workplace and begin showing them the ropes. A career mentor also serves as something like a coach and can become an advocate for the mentee, assisting them in creating and reaching professional goals. Lastly, a life mentor helps the mentee to orchestrate the integration of their professional development and their personal growth.

Mentoring is not a bureaucratic process, instead it should be personal. Avoid creating a program that is viewed as an obligatory human resources program, as employees are likely to consider it simply another required work task and may resent it.

The most difficult part of creating a successful mentoring program is arguably the initial act of pairing an employee with the appropriate mentor. While some companies use an algorithm similar to a dating service, others have new hires complete a questionnaire to better understand who they should be placed with. The most effective way to operate a mentoring program is to allow participants to give their own input. That may mean suggesting a number of possible mentors and allowing the employee to choose.

If the wrong people are placed in the position of mentoring the program can be likely to fail. Mentors should understand that while they will be stepping into a leadership role it is not simply an opportunity to seek a promotion or a raise for participation. In order for the program to be successful everyone must be knowledgeable and understand the process. Promoting the mentoring program during the recruitment process, as well as the orientation period is important.

It’s imperative that the responsibilities of the roles are established and clear expectations are set. The mentor will offer advice, support, and guidance, however, should not be confused with a supervisor. While emails ad phone calls are fine, there should also be dates set for the mentoring pair to meet in person. Regularly scheduled check-ins are important and the director of the program should also be checking in on the pairs to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Since every participant is a unique individual every mentorship relationship may be a little different.

Mentoring programs help new hires to adjust to the environment and allow the mentors to gain and improve their leadership skills as they guide and advise someone else. Not only does mentoring increase employees’ levels of job satisfaction, but it also increases productivity and can directly result in the business becoming more successful.