It was a lucky day for me when I started working for a small business located in Arlington, Virginia. They had fewer than 100 employees and I watched the company grow to over 60,000 employees. Sure, the company’s name changed twice in the 21 years I was there as larger companies bought us, but the original sector I joined held onto programs I helped to start, like an employee mentoring program that I believe made our company stronger.
Value of Mentoring
A company mentoring program can help develop both mid-level employees for possible promotion to management positions and entry-level employees for self-improvement to help them grow with the company. Mentors are employees already in management positions, employees highly skilled or trained in a specific area, or employees at any level who can provide encouragement and guidance to other employees just starting with the company.
As a company expands to new locations, sometimes in other cities or even other states, a company mentoring program can be used to communicate corporate and program policies and procedures to employees in management and administrative positions at the new locations. Those managers and administrators are then able to lead and advise employees joining the new location.
How a Company Mentoring Program Works
An administrator of the company mentoring program will collect applications of mentors and protégés. The applications will include where the employee mentors and protégés are located, their company-specific areas of training or education, like software skills or program management training, and what area the protégé wants to improve or develop, like leadership skills or career development.
The application information is entered into a database to match a mentor with one or more protégés, and to track their time in the program, which can be six to 12 months with weekly or monthly meetings.
Face-to-face meetings work well when both the mentor and protégé are in the same facility. A company mentoring program needs to be flexible, though, to account for employees not located in the same facility or in widely varying time zones. In those situations, email or phone calls can work.
The mentor and protégé will track their success at reaching the protégé’s goals and at regular intervals, report their success to the mentoring program administrator to update the database. The administrator may also need to prompt the mentor/protégé team to keep them on track through the six to 12 month program.
At the conclusion of a company mentoring program, the mentor/protégé team may choose to extend their time working together or the protégé may choose to switch to another mentor for a different type of training or a different perspective.