It's clear that mentoring is a great way to pay it back while furthering your own career. In fact, many experts find themselves in such high demand that they turn mentoring into a full-time business by starting their own mentoring program.
If you decide to take this route, you'll want to provide the best service for your mentees. But how do you know your mentorship program is working? Ask yourself these questions to find out.
Are goals being met?
When you sit down with a mentee, the first thing you should do is set goals based on their individual desires and determine whether you can help them achieve them.
"All good mentorship programs should have goals," said Antonio Johnson, vice president of client success at Power Digital Marketing. "If running a meeting A-Z is the goal for a mentorship program, then we should see the mentee eventually take on said task. If the goal is to become more technically proficient with a tool, then tasks should be created that vet the knowledge of said tool."
If you answered no: Ensure the goals you're setting are realistic yet challenging. Set milestones to test and meet them at a comfortable pace, Johnson recommended. Jumping in and expecting too much too soon will only lead to perceived failure and loss of confidence.
Do your mentees seem more confident with each session?
The point of mentorship is to help individuals become better versions of themselves. This cannot happen without self-confidence.
"A clear indicator of a successful mentorship program is seeing the confidence of participants, both mentors and mentees, realize an improvement," said Johnson. "In my eyes, the role of a mentor is to push a mentee outside of their comfort zone to achieve things they may not have thought they could achieve."
If you answered no: Make sure you're providing constructive criticism rather than disparagement, and be aware of how sensitive each mentee is in certain situations. Every session, find a way to build them up, even when offering critiques.
Do your employees provide feedback?
No business is without fault, and leaders should never be too proud to look for ways to improve. If you want your mentorship program to grow and succeed, actively encourage and seek feedback from clients – in this case, your mentees.
"Any training program that an organization creates should be evaluated," said Dr. Sy Islam, assistant professor at Farmingdale State College and human capital consultant for Talent Metrics. "The first sign that your mentorship program may not be working may be verbal feedback … If the mentorship program is too unstructured and enough guidance isn't given to mentors, that may limit the effectiveness of the program."
If you answered no: Islam suggested following up after meetings to ensure mentees are sharing their feedback. Additionally, you can offer anonymous questionnaires to ensure mentees are comfortable voicing their concerns. Be understanding of anything brought to light so as not to dissuade further feedback, and take initiative right away to bridge any gaps.
Do you communicate with your mentees on a regular basis?
No mentee should ever feel forgotten in the dark. As a mentor, even with multiple clients, you must check in with each person often, or according to their preference.
"Every successful mentoring program has an established communication process, requiring the mentor and mentee to interact on a regularly scheduled basis," said Paul Glover, principal partner of Paul Glover Coaching. "If both … are consistently keeping this schedule, the mentoring program is functioning properly."
If you answered no: Create a set schedule for your mentoring sessions, calls, meetings, etc. to ensure neither one of you is out of the loop. This can be as simple as a weekly check-in. Make sure your mentees know you are flexible and receptive to any changes. You are, after all, their mentor. In other words, you should be the support they need to achieve their dreams.