As part of companies’ orientation programs, seasoned employees often serve as mentors for new hires. It’s a strategy that’s proven to be effective — but one that can still be improved at many companies.
Here are four keys to a successful mentor program, according to author Tammy Erickson in a recent Harvard Business Review article:
- Make it voluntary — New employees will be shortchanged if they’re stuck with a mentor who resents having to take on the role. Instead of assigning people to the program, encourage them to volunteer. New hires will benefit more when current employees are freely offering their time.
- Base it on specific needs — Have something planned for the mentorship to revolve around — for example, have the new hire help complete a project the mentor is working on. That can often accomplish more than just having the employee available to answer general questions.
- Go to a group — If the purpose of the mentoring is to get questions answered, you might want to give the new employee the names of two or three people they can ask. That will help spread out the burden and time commitment.
- Help the mentors — To encourage participation, remind mentors that younger employees may have different areas of expertise — and may even be able to help veteran employees with questions and concerns that they have.