How to design a mentoring programme now!

Mentoring programme design during a pandemic is no different to how you would normally develop and design a programme. However, there are certain tweaks you need to make to ensure the programme flexes to some of the constraints and challenges of this Covid-19 time. Here are our top tips of what to be aware of when designing a mentoring programme currently.

Top tips for mentoring programme design

  1. Virtual mentoring – ensure all mentors and mentees are comfortable with having a relationship that is virtual. Brief them on mentoring virtually and ensure sufficient time is built in for them to develop their rapport and get to know each other properly at the beginning of the relationship.
  2. Don’t rush the relationships – this is not a time to be setting up six months relationships! It may take mentors and mentees 2 or 3 months to get to know each other properly and build sufficient trust to work together comfortably. I suggest programmes of at least 9 to 12 months duration. Do include the option that participants can extend their relationships if they want to. More flexibility around the formal winding up date is really key.
  3. Mentors may need to be more proactive – if their mentee falls off the radar screen, mentors need to be comfortable to check in with them that they are OK.
  4. Direction setting – it is critical with new relationships to stress the point, that direction setting might be completely different to what is expected. With the turmoil and change currently, working on a linear career trajectory is probably a waste of time. Taking more of a short term, micro step, quick win approach is going to be more positive for the mentee. Discuss this in your briefings with both mentors and mentees. That way expectations can be transparent and discussed openly at the beginning.
  5. Mentoring is holistic – again use the briefings to open up with mentors and mentees what might be discussed in their conversations. Mentees are going to want to talk about how the pandemic is affecting their lives, particularly if they feel relaxed with their mentor. Mentors need to be prepared for this and can also benefit from sharing their thoughts and feelings.
  6. Don’t skimp on supervision – mentors and mentees need time to talk about the process of mentoring and how their relationships are going. We are finding mentoring supervision sessions are more popular than ever. People want to talk and discuss how their learning is going.
  7. Set up some different types of mentoring – revisit your organisation’s mentoring strategy at this time. What are you planning to deliver strategically for your people over the next 6 to 12 months? How can mentoring support the delivery of your strategy? Reciprocal peer mentoring is a fabulous idea to reduce loneliness and isolation and strengthen employee motivation and engagement at this time. Use reverse mentoring to support your D&I strategy, or do you need a sponsorship programme to support BAME or female employees?
  8. Remember to evaluate – regular formative evaluation will provide the data for you to understand how you need to flex your programme at this time. Don’t just carry on as you have done in the past. Some small refinements will make your programme far more responsive and successful!

Thinking of setting up a new mentoring programme?

This really is a great time to set up more mentoring. Interestingly we found a reluctance on the part of our clients to set up programmes in March/April, with so much uncertainty around. However, now we are finding that organisations are realising the benefits of using mentoring as much as they can during the pandemic. We have actually seen an increase in the number of new programmes starting! It is a cost-effective, easy-to-launch approach to supporting people at a time when they really need it.

Come and talk to us about our experience of starting programmes this year and what we have learned.

If you are new to mentoring and want to develop a programme without consultancy support, then look at our Mentoring Starter Package product. We have updated it recently — it includes all the information, guidance, templates and instructions to set up your whole mentoring programme.

Or if you want to set up more mentoring, but just don’t have the time to do it. Then use our Virtual Programme Manager service. We think you will find it is cheaper than delivering the programme yourself!

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