Setting Up and Managing a Mentoring Program: The Truth About How Much Time It Takes
Mentoring programs are an excellent way to support personal and professional development in organizations. They have been shown to enhance employee engagement, improve retention rates, and develop leadership skills. However, setting up and managing a mentoring program can be a time-consuming and challenging process. Fortunately, mentoring software can make the process easier and more efficient. In this article, we will explore how much time it takes to set up and manage a mentoring program using mentoring software, as well as the difference between a light touch and a heavier touch approach.
Setting Up a Mentoring Program
Setting up a mentoring program can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the complexity and size of the program and the resources available. It involves defining the objectives of the program, frameworks for selecting mentors and mentees, developing training materials, and setting up the infrastructure for communication and tracking progress.
Using mentoring software can significantly reduce the time required to set up a mentoring program. With the right software, program administrators can quickly create and customize mentoring programs, or use provided training materials and communication templates. In addition, software can automate the process of matching mentors and mentees, saving time and ensuring that the matching process is fair and equitable.
The first months of a mentoring program are the most time-consuming. We like to allow at least 6-8 weeks to get to the point of opening applications.
Managing a Mentoring Program
Managing a mentoring program can be a challenging and time-consuming task. The success of the program depends on effective communication, ongoing support, and tracking progress. Without the proper tools, managing a mentoring program can quickly become overwhelming.
Mentoring software can make managing a mentoring program more efficient and effective. The software can automate many tasks, such as sending reminders, scheduling meetings, and tracking progress. This frees up time for program administrators to focus on building relationships and providing support to mentors and mentees.
The first months of a mentoring program are the most time-consuming. We like to allow at least 6-8 weeks to get to the point of opening applications, which are usually left open for a few weeks. The program administrator may be called on to answer questions and provide advice on eligibility and suitability before pairs are matched and the program gets started. Once underway, the time commitment is lower.
Light Touch vs. Heavier Touch Approach
When managing a mentoring program, there are two approaches: light touch and heavier touch. A light touch approach is a more hands-off approach, where program administrators provide minimal guidance and support. A heavier touch approach involves more direct involvement from program administrators, including regular check-ins and ongoing support.
The approach taken depends on the objectives of the program and the resources available. A lighter-touch approach may be appropriate for programs with experienced mentors and mentees who require less guidance. A heavier touch approach may be necessary for programs that involve a large number of participants or require additional support for mentorship matches.
From a practical perspective, a lot will depend on how responsive and engaged the participants are. Sometimes, senior people will not comply with requests to complete surveys, for example. So, finding the right balance between helpful guidance and harassment can be tough.
Consequences of Each Approach
A lighter touch approach can result in a more flexible and adaptable program that costs less, but it may also lead to lower engagement and fewer positive outcomes. A heavier touch approach can provide more structure and support and usually gets better outcomes but requires more time.
With a light touch 6-month program with, say 25-50 pairs, program administrators may spend 50-75 hours on program management over the life of the program. A heavier touch approach will double or triple that. It should not be a full-time role even if the program becomes extremely large.
Setting up and managing a mentoring program can be a time-consuming and challenging process. However, using mentoring software can significantly reduce the time required and make the process more efficient and effective. A lighter touch approach can provide more flexibility and adaptability, while a heavier touch approach can provide more structure and support. Choosing the right approach depends on the program’s design, and a hybrid approach may be the best option in some cases.
© Melissa Richardson 2023