Mentoring creates a positive ripple effect throughout teams and entire organizations. Mentees benefit from getting to learn from more senior employees, and mentors benefit by developing their communication and leadership skills in the process. This results in better-performing teams and a more engaged workforce.

Creating a mentorship program isn’t as simple as matching up employees—it requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. Otherwise, you might end up with a program that doesn’t benefit participants or lead to any meaningful results.

Alaina Love, CEO of Purpose Linked Consulting, says there are five key elements of effective mentoring programs. We discuss her thoughts in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. The program is timebound and inclusive. The most successful mentoring programs don’t go on indefinitely—they have a set end date. For example, your company may launch a yearlong mentoring program or one that lasts six months. Love says that mentoring programs should also be open to people in all departments and at all levels. This can help the program be viewed as more accessible, rather than only open to certain employees.

2. The program builds trust quickly. If you commit to a six-month program, you have to make the most of every discussion. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight, but you can take steps to help mentors and mentees get to a level of transparency with each other. Love recommends inviting mentors and mentees to share their deepest beliefs, values, passions and purpose with one another. This exercise can help accelerate growth in the relationship and bring a level of comfort and trust.

3. The program encourages mutual learning. Mentors should also learn new things by participating in mentorship programs. Love says that some companies choose to pair mentees and mentors in different parts of the organization. This allows mentors to build knowledge in a new business area, with the mentee serving as their learning partner.

4. The program plans for skill-building opportunities. In some mentorship programs, mentees and mentors may struggle to find something to talk about. You can avoid this by ensuring that mentors take responsibility for reinforcing specific learning sessions. During these regularly scheduled meetings, mentors and mentees can review support materials that can lead to a robust discussion, Love says.

5. The program involves senior management. Love points out that the most successful mentoring programs allow mentees to communicate with senior-level employees. By doing this, mentees can develop their skills and organizations can identify talent that could be tapped for future job openings.

If you’re thinking about rolling out a mentoring program, remember that it should be a two-way street. Both parties should benefit from the experience. When done well, a mentoring program can develop less experienced employees and help give more senior employees a sense of fulfillment. Wherever you are in your career, think about getting involved as a mentor or mentee—the benefits are many.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Alaina Love is CEO of Purpose Linked Consulting and co-author of The Purpose Linked Organization: How Passionate Leaders Inspire Winning Teams and Great Results.