• Nina Lovelace

Kandu: How to set up effective virtual mentoring programmes - Part Two

Kandu has supported many #mentoring programmes, supporting both entrepreneurs and corporate #employees to be better business leaders. So we have developed a significant understanding of the work it takes to set these programmes up for success, and are now pleased to be taking these learnings and rolling them out as part of the setup support we offer to all new clients.

To help anyone researching launching a new mentoring or #coaching programme to support leadership development, we have come up with a few ‘steps to success’ you may wish to consider. Sometimes, organisations rush to set up programmes without considering a few fundamentals, which can seriously undermine success later on. This is even more true where a #virtual programme is necessary, as is increasingly the case in a post-#COVID-19 #coronavirus world.

This blog is the second of this series where we will outline these steps to help you get started, and be more likely to achieve successful mentoring partnerships and return on investment. Part One can be read here.

Clearly communicate programme benefits and expectations to achieve proper engagement

Setting up mentoring programmes are an organisational investment. HR leads/programme leads need to do preparatory work to set up mentoring programmes, but in order for this to be worthwhile, they must also plan to build and sustain a commitment to the programme from both mentors and mentees by providing effective communication, training and resources/ tools.

Each programme is different but Kandu recommends that HR leads/ programme managers work with their communication department to ensure mentors and mentees understand:

  1. The benefits of the programme to mentors, mentees - and to the business (ie why the business is investing in it)

  2. That they will need to attend some form of #training on how to mentor/ how to be mentored (more on this later)

  3. That there will be a minimum expectation in terms of mentoring session regularity eg once every 4- 6 weeks, and mentees’ managers and mentors’ PAs need to facilitate this.

  4. That mentors and mentees' first task together is to agree what 1-5 priority goals that the mentees want to achieve during the programme, to give clarity to their efforts together, and

  5. That mentors/ mentees should regularly report on progress ideally using some form of tool or feedback system to allow for programme measurement.

HR teams or programme managers are sometimes cautious about communicating the need for training or the need for reporting (accountability and success measurement) to busy employees. But mentoring programmes are a significant opportunity for everyone in the organisation to develop wider networks, and learn new skills, whether or not they are trying to give advice or are receiving it - and an organisation’s efforts to develop employees needs to be matched by both mentee and mentors efforts to work together effectively.

HR leads/ programme managers: Engage early with your comms department to plan how you will communicate benefits and expectations. Ensure participants are clear the programme is an organisational investment, offering development benefits for all, in return for a period of extra work during the programme.

Give mentors and mentees (virtual) tools and training to set them up for success

If expectations have been set, then HR leads or programme managers also need to ensure they have given mentors and mentees the right training and tools to successfully meet those expectations as easily and quickly as possible.

Kandu recommends that as a minimum programme managers/ HR leads supply the following training:

  1. Mentor training: Training on what ‘good’ mentoring is and how it differs from performance management sessions or coaching. More often than not, senior staff have never mentored before so be effectively learning on the job. They need help and support to learn how to pass their knowledge and experience on to others effectively in a way that inspires and motivates.

  2. Pair training: Support for mentees (with mentors oversight) on how to set 3-5 priority SMART #goals that they want to achieve during the programme. Having a set of priority goals, chosen by and committed to by the mentee, gives the pair a clear structure both in terms of what they mainly discuss in their meetings, as well as how they measure their success together.

We would also recommend that the programme supply the following tools and resources:

  1. Some pre-supplied guidance on ‘rules of engagement’ for pairs such as whose job is it to chase who for mentoring sessions (as a rule, the mentee not the mentor) and what you can and cannot ask your mentee/ mentor to do.

  2. A helpline/ programme email and/or set of FAQs about what to do when faced with common challenges, such as when a mentor or mentee repeatedly struggle to find time to meet together.

  3. Virtual tools and related training to repeatedly ‘nudge’ pairs towards starting and also maintaining successful mentoring, no matter where participants are based or whether or not they are home working/ remote

With regards to c, Kandu's software supports quality goal-setting between pairs, and deploys automated reminders to participants on when/ how often to arrange meetings and also when to report progress, to support successful setup and continuous #engagement.

HR leads/ programme managers: Expect to spend time on training and creating tools and resources. If you merely connect/ match people and then leave them to it, it is likely that mentoring pair relationships will wither and die. You may wish to engage an external consultancy or organisation to help with this if you do not have an HR lead with mentoring or coaching programme experience.

Invest time and resource into monitoring and assessing the programme

If you have set up a programme with a clear goal or goals, such as developing more diverse leaders to achieve promotion faster, programme leads should also create a set of key performance indicators to know whether or not the programme is helping to achieve those KPIs, and then decide on a means to measure success against those KPIs.

Collecting mentee goals data - and progress against those goals - is often hugely helpful in this regard, as you can see what mentees are working on and their self-reported progress against these goals over time. This will tell you how aligned their goals (and related tasks) are to the overall programme (or not, in some cases), and also give you insights into whether or not the programme may be creating expectation issues down the road.

For example, if 80% of mentees have set a promotion goal and are successfully preparing for this during the programme according to their reports, but there are only limited promotions available, you may see extra churn if more opportunities are not created by the time the programme is complete.

Kandu collects mentee goal and #progress data, plus much more related to mentee confidence levels, endorsements given to mentors, hours mentored and so on. We also go one step further, and analyse our clients’ data on their behalf into #insight reports. Our reports also make #recommendations on what changes our clients might make to achieve the best possible programme outcomes. We can also benchmark clients data against similar programmes if required, giving them vital insights into the relative health and engagement of their mentoring community, with a view to helping them improve and achieve even greater success in the years to come.

HR leads/ programme managers: Think carefully about what success looks like and how you will measure success, with a view to reporting that back to the board and programme participants. Many programmes deploy satisfaction surveys, but this is increasingly not enough to illustrate impact and ROI. Software such as Kandu can help to collect live participant data, providing detailed visibility on what is happening between #mentoring pairs, allowing programmes to identify any issues and step in/make changes if required for the best possible outcomes. Furthermore, such software can often also be integrated into existing CRMs, so you can combine employee data into a central pool.

Regularly communicate and celebrate success!

Finally, we would recommend that programme managers also work closely with their comms departments to find opportunities to continue to communicate about the programme. If you are collecting data about programme progress, this gives a great opportunity to tell the mentor and mentee community and beyond what the organisation is collectively learning, and which re participants are making especially strong progress and/ or showing leadership best practice.

Kandu's data has helped our clients to communicate and celebrate the following beyond satisfaction survey data:

  1. Mentees who are setting really great goals - effective, priority goal setting is an important leadership trait

  2. Goal trends - whether or not different regions/ cohort groups are focusing on different priorities and opening up conversations about what that might mean for those regions

  3. Mentors who have won endorsements for their impact eg have won a Kandu 'Challenger' award for their supportive, but straight-talking approach

  4. Interviews with successfully reporting pairs into their working methods

  5. Hours of mentoring successfully delivered

  6. Trends data on the most popular mentee skills needs (collected from Kandu mentee profiles), and what the organisation is doing to support these eg special workshops into negotiation, additional training on business proposal development

HR leads/ programme managers: Engage with your comms team to have a long term communication and celebration plan to keep the programme front of mind in participants, and to celebrate best practice to aid learning. Some clients plan in celebration days, which Kandu can provide data insights for, for programme and company-wide dissemination. Others also identify internal 'champions' who are on the programme to support engagement and to share insights on the ground.

If you are considering developing a mentoring or coaching programme to develop future #business leaders, please come and talk to Kandu. We can help you get off to the best possible footing to ensure your mentoring programme is successful and gives you return on investment.

In return for a small investment per head, our software helps to support mentees and mentors to follow good mentoring practice - we encourage goal setting in pairs and mentee self- reflection - so they learn new skills just from using it. Kandu's software also collects data on how mentor/ mentee pairs are progressing together to help programme administrators such as HR teams get real-time oversight on what is happening between mentor/ mentee pairs. Kandu analyses this data to make recommendations for interventions to achieve the best possible programme return on investment.

Contact hello@wekandu.io for more details and a demo. Kandu is also fully virtual, perfect for supporting programmes during #social-distancing, #remote-working and across #distributed teams.