A mentor programme may help you to improve employee engagement, productivity, retain your good staff or help your succession planning. Before you start a mentor programme there are some important things to consider.
Part one of “10 things firms need to consider before starting a mentoring scheme” looked at the first four issues. this article examines look at the last part of the article which was originally featured on Accounting Web.
5. Write a business case
I know, I can hear you say it already. You’re running a small firm and don’t need a “business case”. Even if you don’t need to convince your existing partners, its worth thinking about:
- The benefit to the firm , including KPIs that may be positively or negatively affected by the scheme
- The benefit to staff of such a scheme
- How you envisage the scheme operating
Don’t write a long document, a page of A4 max will give you a useful framework for everyone involved to refer back to.
6. Have an ‘owner’ for the mentor programme
Yes, this may be you, but someone in the firm needs to be responsible for mentoring. Mentees and mentors will have questions and need help from time to time. The owner will be a central point to direct their queries to, and many need to:
- Manage the implementation
- Measure the effectiveness of the scheme
- Champion the scheme
- Integrate the mentoring scheme into other people processes and systems the firm has
Who is the right person in your firm to own the scheme?
7. Upskill the mentors
The quality of your mentors running your mentor programme will make and break the scheme. Training for mentors doesn’t have to be long, costly and arduous, but needs to include:
- What’s expected of them and their mentees
- A refresher on the skills of a mentor, e.g. listening, questioning, giving feedback, how to ‘coach’ their mentees
- When is it appropriate to ‘tell’, and when to ‘ask’?
- What, ideally, will happen in a mentoring meeting, and how often and how long these should take?
- What firm systems or processes they need to use in their role as a mentor.
8. Set expectations for the mentees
The success of your mentoring initiative will be driven by the response of the mentors and mentees. Your scheme will fail if both mentees and mentors don’t realise the benefit.
To keep the mentees engaged with the scheme, it’s important they know what’s expected of them. For example:
- A mentor will not be able to wave a magic wand and make everything OK
- They are, not their mentor, responsible for setting the agenda and driving the relationship
- Their mentor will not be able to single-handedly get them into the plum assignments and help them be promoted. They have to do their part.
9. Integrate into existing people processes and systems
Eventually the mentoring scheme, particularly if it is a formal firm scheme, needs to be integrated into the fabric of ‘how this firm operates’. For example, in your induction processes do you tell people about the mentoring scheme? How will the mentoring scheme dovetail in with your annual performance reviews? This integration will take time and effort, who in the firm will do this?
Finally consider how you will review the success of the initiative, preferably before you start. Don’t forget to refer back to your “business case” for the scheme. Things to think about, include:
- Who will review the scheme?
- Who and in what forum will the results of the scheme will reviewed?
- What will you do if the scheme is not having the desired effect?
- What will you do if the scheme does have the desired effect?
What elements of a mentor programme have you used in your firm?