Friday, October 3, 2014

How to Use Mentoring for Onboarding: Best Practices

Onboarding is a process that can really significantly be helped by mentoring, because mentoring allows you to structure onboarding from two angles: skills and culture.

How do you make mentoring for onboarding work? Simple – have two mentors, one for culture onboarding, and one for job-specific onboarding.

How to Use Mentoring for Onboarding

#1: Define your goals and objectives. These can vary depending on your program. Some examples include “Provide new employee guidance,” “Increase time-to-productivity of new hires”, and/or “Increase retention of new hires”.

(NOTE: We don’t usually advise organizations to include employee retention as an objective for mentoring programs, since there are a million reasons why people choose to leave organizations that are not anything that mentoring can help. But in the case of onboarding and new hires specifically, this is a good goal to measure and work toward.)

#2: Identify mentors and their respective roles. Consider how your mentors will fit into each of the following stages:

  • Mentoring planning. You will need the mentors’ help with putting together the mentoring partnership plan, specifically with regard to helping the mentee start to form a career path within the organization. 
  • Providing guidance and assistance. These include skills and behaviors that are needed to function in the culture of the organization. Mentors can also provide insight and access to opportunities the mentee wouldn’t have normally had via their own networks. 
  • Evaluation and feedback. Mentors can be invaluable in beginning to identify the mentees’ motivational factors and helping them work with the grain of the organization’s culture, as it were, instead of against it.
  • Communicating. First impressions are important – especially when it comes to the first internal introduction to the organization. It’s critical that mentors understand what messages they need to communicate to the new hires, and why. 


#3: Match participants on specific criteria. Because you have two types of mentors per new hire, you’ll need to match on two different sets of criteria.

  • Organizational culture mentor: Criteria for matching may include the number of years in the organization, business function, and location. NOTE: Even though I and Insala are big believers in distance mentoring, location may be a barrier for becoming integrated into the organization’s culture, depending on how localized the culture is. 
  • Job/Skill development mentor: Criteria for matching may include career level, business function, skills/competencies needed, and location. NOTE: Once again, if the mentor will be providing on-the-job reinforcement to the new hire, location may be a barrier. 


#4: Determine when to introduce the mentor. This will be different for each type of mentor.

  • Organizational culture mentor: Because the objectives of this partnership don’t have anything to do with training that the new hires will receive for their job, you should introduce the mentor to the new hire at the beginning of the onboarding process to ensure they have a warm, positive experience and support from day one. 
  • Job/Skill development mentor: The objectives of this partnership are tied to the new hire’s job, so introduce this mentor after formal training is completed when the new hire is first starting the new job. This will do much to reinforce the new hire’s learning after formal training, and provide on-the-job guidance and support.


#5: Provide online information and examples by using mentoring software. It’s important to make information about the mentoring program available to participants. This information should include:

  • Information about mentor and mentee roles and expectations.
  • Information about mentors and mentees (e.g. career/personal bios) to help them learn about each other. This is especially helpful during the matching process.
  • Information about the mentoring program in general – e.g. program goals and objectives, so that all participants understand what they’re working towards.


#6: Measure your mentoring program. This can take the form of qualitative measurements (e.g. a feedback survey taken by mentoring participants, or feedback from managers regarding how they feel their new hires have developed) or quantitative measurements (e.g. comparing what was planned to what was achieved.)

Read more: Why Should I Measure My Mentoring Program?

Check out the other blogs in our mentoring for onboarding series by mentoring training expert Judy Corner, or watch the recording of our recent webinar “So You’ve Got New Hires! Now What?

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