An e-Mentoring program is run almost exactly the same way as a face-to-face mentoring program. The only difference is that your organisation will need to use technology to run the program through a virtual portal.
To set up and facilitate an e-Mentoring program you will need to use a specifically-designed software application such as Mutual Force, Chronus or Mentor Care. The AWRA e-Mentoring Program currently uses Chronus.
The advice below is geared towards an e-Mentoring program, however it can also be used to implement a face-to-face mentoring program.
Ingredients for success:
The following are the ingredients that are required to successfully run and manage an e-Mentoring program:
- Careful planning and investment
- A mentoring administrative platform
- Participant training materials and tools
- Stakeholder engagement and collection of the appropriate profiling data
- Matching and managing participants
- Ongoing support and evaluations for monitoring and continuous improvement
- Ongoing communication between program administrators and participants to identify and address issues.
Recipe for setting up an e-Mentoring program:
STEP 1: Plan and invest carefully
Firstly you will need to plan – this involves identifying the program stakeholders, your target audience and establishing the business case for having an e-Mentoring program. Establishing a business case enables you to secure the appropriate support for the program, especially from the executive and senior leadership level.
STEP 2: Set goals and objectives for the program
Consider what your goals and objectives for the program are. Is it to match people who are considered high potential with leaders in your organisations to assist them on the path to senior leadership? Or perhaps for graduates to be mentored by someone more senior to assist in their transition into the workforce?
Setting clear goals and objectives will help you and your organisation create, steer and measure the program’s success.
STEP 3: Design the program
To do this, consider the following:
- What types of employees will be mentees/mentors and what part of the organisation will they come from?
- Is the program open to anyone for whom a suitable mentor can be found, or will you target specific groups or individuals?
- How will you source mentors for the mentees? Will they be internal, external or both?
- What types of individuals will you recruit as mentors (i.e. senior managers)?
- Do you want the mentees to receive specific guidance from HR and their supervisor on the direction their goals should take? Or will you allow the mentee to identify their program goals and work toward it with their mentor?
- How will you match mentors and mentees? Do you want to allow the mentees to choose their mentor (or vice versa)? Do you want to maintain control of the matching?
- What are your program goals and expected outcomes for mentees and mentors?
- Will the mentors and mentees need to be in the same geographic location? If not, will the organisation arrange for them to meet and/or to communicate using technology?
- How frequently and how do you expect the mentor and mentee to meet? Is this to happen during work hours?
- Will you provide a forum for a community of mentees and mentors to interact in person or online?
- What will be the relationship time-frame (i.e 6 months, 9 months)?
- How will you promote the program to recruit mentees and mentors, and enthuse their managers?
- How will you evaluate the program success and demonstrate that the business case was realised?
STEP 4: Design the protocols, processes and procedures
When designing the protocols, processes and procedures for running the program take into account you and your team’s answers to the questions in STEP 3. This might be a good time to conduct research on the different mentoring administrative platforms available to find the one most suited to your organisational goals and project budget and decide on the most suitable platform for you and your organisation.
STEP 5: Secure leadership support using the business case that you established in STEP 1
Securing leadership support also includes obtaining management support, as they are key stakeholders and need to understand the benefits of program participation for the mentors and mentees, and the support they need to provide for the program to succeed.
STEP 6: Appoint a program manager and allocate other relevant human resources required to implement and manage the program
The program manager should be someone who can devote attention to the program. This person will need to have the following skills:
- Project management – ability to manage planned activities and achieve them within a specified time-frame, cost, scope and quality utilising project documentation and reporting skills
- People management and development – ability to contribute to the design of program documents and tools, and assist mentors and mentees, and
- Technologically advanced – ability to operate chosen technology and software applications.
STEP 7: Develop an implementation plan
An implementation plan should include the following:
- Preparing and setting up the program
- Publicising and launching the program
- Recruiting and screening participants, including stakeholder engagement and collection of the appropriate profiling data
- Training mentees and mentors, including the development of the relevant participant training materials and tools
- Matching mentees and mentors and launching the mentoring partnerships. Matching may be undertaken through the automated system, semi-automated methods and/or manually by the mentoring administrative team
- Carry out and manage the various stages of the mentoring journey
- Keeping in touch with the participants (emails, phone calls, surveys/questionnaires, etc) to:
- Monitor progress of each relationship and of the mentoring activities/stages to assess and evaluate program progress
- Gather program feedback for continuous improvement
- Stimulate discussions within the program communities
- Evaluate the program and communicate the results to assess the success of meeting organisational goals
- Identify and address any program, platform and/or mentoring relationship issues.
STEP 8: Program implementation
It is the role of the project manager and the administrative team (if applicable) to implement the program and ensure it is run according to the set plan.
Commencing the first cohort of the mentoring program – AWRA e-Mentoring recommends mentoring cohorts of 5-10 pairs in each cohort for ease of administering and managing the program. Small groups enable the administrative team to provide the necessary and quality attention and support each mentoring pair requires. Once the first cohort has completed, undertake surveys/webinars and/or focus groups to find out ways that the program can be continuously improved.
Roll out subsequent cohorts as per program roll out schedule set by mentoring administrative team.
Tools and systems for program success:
Listed below are a number of essential tools, systems and infrastructure needed to support the program, including:
- Tools to support participants during the process: e.g. documents, e‐books, letters, email, templates and forms
- A system for storing and providing participant access to program information/infrastructure
- A system for gathering and comparing mentor and mentee profile information to support the matching process
- A system for communicating to all participants (in groups or individually), including administering evaluation instruments (e.g. surveys)
- A system to monitor the program’s progress, cost and outputs against the plan
- A system for stakeholder engagement to increase the quality of the mentor and mentee pool available to match from.
For further information on setting up a mentoring or e-mentoring program in your organisation please contact [email protected].