A well-structured employee mentoring program can help you create a company culture that puts more value on learning and personal development. It can also promote a positive remote work culture to reduce stress and anxiety for your employees and even better reduce the turnover rates.
If you have plans for an employee mentoring program, it is important to acknowledge that there are obstacles you must be willing to overcome for the program to be a success. One of these challenges is the employees working from home, which incidentally have been the new trend since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
The fact that your employees are working remotely shouldn’t deter you from rolling out an employee mentorship program to impart necessary skills or make your employees more knowledgeable in different areas of your business. With different virtual event ideas for improving employee engagement, you can always do a little tweaking on how you want to run the program to ensure that all your employees can access it.
This is relatable because if you have just one mentoring relationship, it will be limited regarding the impact and scope. Therefore, to truly harness the power of a good employee mentorship program, you will need to have multiple mentoring relationships in your company. This will ensure that all your employees, including those who work remotely can access the program.
How do you Mentor Employees Remotely?
If you are at a crossroads on how to mentor your employees remotely, we made this guide with you in mind.
1. Clarify your Program Outline
You will need to give clarity on what your employees are expected to contribute during the mentoring program. This will make it easier for them to comprehend the goal of the program.
Having a clear program outline and making sure that you’re on the same page with your employees working remotely on the goal of the mentoring program will also make them buy into the benefits they can expect from the program. But, importantly, it will also make it easy for the persons you’ve instructed to run the program to know how to best structure the sessions.
It is also appropriate that you clarify the goals of the mentoring program at the beginning to build accountability among all the parties involved. In addition, earlier clarification of the expectations at the end of the mentoring program for the employees working remotely will also ensure that this program sets off on the right note with both groups (mentors and mentees) having clarity on the amount of time and effort they should commit to this program.
You can clarify your program outline through an action plan that sheds light on the duration of the sessions, frequency, and any special preparations required before the sessions. Alternatively, you can clarify the program outline during the awareness phase when still promoting it, so all parties are knowledgeable on what to expect before the start of the program.
2. Emphasize Specific Skills
Most organizations find mentoring programs most specifically for employees working remotely more effective if the programs are aimed at specific areas of concern such as enhancing some skills. By emphasizing specific skills, you will find it easy to develop detailed mentorship activities and relevant online training pieces of materials necessary for the program’s success.
This is because you will have a clearer idea of the specific secondary skills or sub-topics that should be improved. To nail down specific skills that may need honing, you can do skills assessments, surveys, or online observations to note down the skills worth improving or developing. This way, you will also discover any performance gaps that should be filled based on the employees’ job responsibilities.
3. Go for Frequent, Shorter Sessions Instead of Longer Sessions
Longer meetings are believed to cause employee dissatisfaction. This is a risk you must be aware of, and to combat it, your best bet will be to come up with a direct approach that would counter it.
Here’s where the shorter but more frequent sessions come in. They’re effective in this aspect because they increase the cadence of the mentors you’ve assigned this task and the mentees who should be benefiting from the program.
More frequent sessions will also help your mentorship pairs to build trust and rapport quickly. There are better ways to make your meetings shorter. A simpler way of achieving this is omitting single-hour monthly meetings and opting for 30-minute meetings every week and making the shorter meetings the primary goal.
4. Build a Stable Communication Plan
Unlike face-to-face communications, which may be easier, connecting with strangers for the virtual mentorship programs can be a significant challenge. You can, however, help the mentees and mentors build a rapport by developing a solid communication plan.
You can do this by giving your employees icebreakers and conversation starters. The ice breakers, in this case, will help ensure that both the mentors and mentees remain comfortable.
On the other hand, the conversation starters will ensure that the dialogues do not stop but proceed towards a more practical goal. Once you’ve developed the ice breakers and conversation starters, ensure both parties (the mentees and mentors) are knowledgeable on the best ways of communicating with each other continually. This may take the form of asking questions, scheduling conversations or sharing insights, etc.
5. Ensure that the Mentoring is Topic-based
Typically, mentoring is universal when it comes to topics. However, in this case, the universality may not be something you’re looking for, as it may be overwhelming for your employees.
To begin with, it would make it appear that your mentors are required to be knowledgeable in a wide range of subject areas. You can address such concerns by making your mentoring program topic-based.
By defining the topic outlines as well as the scope of relationships for the mentors you want for your employees, you will find identifying the perfect individuals less daunting. It also creates massive room for flexibility since a mentor for one of the topics of interest can also double as a mentee for another more knowledgeable mentor on that topic.
6. Find a Good Online Tool, like Givitas
There are several tools that are marketed as great for connecting distributed workforces. Givitas is one such platform you may want to look into considering that it is designed for collaboration. With this software, you can rest assured of your mentors and mentees getting equal access to resources. It also helps reduce stigma linked to asking for help to make information sharing simpler and fast.
7. Track Progress of the Program and Collect Feedback
The success of any online mentoring program is heavily reliant on feedback and commitment of the participants. To track progress and collect feedback you can use in developing more effective online mentoring materials, you may need to use periodic surveys. Questionnaires and focus groups can also help you discover the training strategy’s weaknesses and strengths so you can implement practical changes to make them even better.
Good planning will lay the groundwork for the success of your mentorship program for remote employees. It will therefore help if you put enough time in preparation for the whole exercise.
About the Author
Tiffany Harper is a training guru who’s been working in the corporate sector as the technology expert for several years now. She is a management graduate and loves to share her experience through blogs and expert articles with research proposal writing services. For her love of writing, she provided online consultations for one essay writer, while working with SuperiorPapers. Please do not hesitate to contact her on LinkedIn.