During the second quarter of this year Insider Inc. launched our first ever mentorship program. Here is how and why we did it.
Prior to conceptualizing a mentorship program, it is important to understand why we needed a mentor program to begin with. Insider Inc, specifically the Technology group, wanted to foster a culture of learning, education, and growth. A mentorship program would help us to establish this new environment and has a lot of other benefits.
- Creates opportunities for growth outside of the formal Manager <-> Employee relationship.
- Promotes working with others across teams.
- Attracts new talent; it is a strong selling point for potential hires.
- Helps the organization better understand the talents and skills of team members beyond there day-to-day job descriptions.
- Great for retention and career development.
Here is the program we piloted within the Technology group. After employees self selected into the program, we spent time understanding what each person wanted to get out of it. Our mentees needs fell into two main categories, soft and hard skills.
- Soft skills: Giving or receiving feedback, running effective meetings, effective note taking, etc.
- Hard skills: Learning new programming languages, understanding project management, learning about analytics tools, etc.
In an effort to make the program as organic as possible we wanted to allow mentees to select their mentors. We had participants choose a primary and secondary mentor. We tried to make the process simple by providing a directory of mentors based on skill-set as opposed to name, title or team.
We created initial meetings between mentors and mentees but allowed them to define the partnership and process. To help the participants we gave them some guiding questions for there initial meeting:
- What do you want to get out of this program?
- What goals do you want to focus on?
- What does the mentee want to improve on?
- What skill sets can the mentee offer in return to the mentor?
- How often should we meet?
While we hoped every relationship would be successful, we made sure to provide an easy out for either the mentor or mentee. We made it clear to participants that they could exit the program at any time regardless of the reason. Sometimes work got to busy or the pairing was not a good match.
We did not think that program needed to go on forever and so we timeboxed the program to 3-months cycles to create opportunities for validation and growth. We did this for a couple of reasons,
- Create a feedback loop where there the mentor can validate the mentee is getting what they want out of their relationship.
- Mentee has the option to move into a mentor role or pair up with another mentor.
Here is how our initial cycle went.
- 27 people, 13 mentors and 14 mentees, signed up for the pilot program.
- After 4 weeks, 4 people dropped out due to a busy schedule
- 9 mentors and 11 mentees remained active throughout the program
- 74% of participants completed the 3-month cycle.
Initial feedback found that many saw the program to be very helpful. Insider Inc. is going to now roll out a similar program to the wider organization and we look forward to sharing more of our results as the program continues to grow and evolve.