Starting a Mentoring Program

At the end of a training session last year, I asked the group to participate in an empathy exercise. Basically, I had them put themselves in the position of a brand new manager, not new to the company but new to the role, to brainstorm on what it feels like when you’re facing unknown challenges. I was hoping to get some ideas on next steps for the group, where we should focus resources and effort to make transitions here more positive for everyone involved.

I didn’t have any problems getting feedback from the group; we talked at length about the things that make people feel like outsiders, the difficulty of navigating without a map and how disconnected we can all be at times. More than one story of a coworker that quit over the lack of support came up and out of all of the reasons to lose an employee that to me is just well silly.

Initially I thought that much of these problems could be solved with a simple mentoring program coupled with a more formal onboarding process. This was immediately followed with something along the lines of “Huh, where do I start?!”. Keep in mind that I spent a couple of years in HR in training and development so I’ve actually participated in both in the past yet I was still stumped.

How do you go about providing a baseline of how the company wants manager’s to act or more importantly – What is our culture? What are our expectations?

Are there tools already in place that the company can leverage? What training are we providing?

Who should be involved? Is everyone at the same level automatically included? Do we set criteria for mentors and mentees?

What obstacles exist that prevent these things from existing now?

The process of weeding through those questions, and many more, has brought me to a straight forward strategy – training for the skills every manager should have and support for the transition. How do you draft up a proposal for something that big? Well, more to come on that. In the meantime check out the process flow I’ve diagramed, I think it’s a good start.


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