Learn five critical needs assessment questions to ask prior to designing program. Ellen Ensher outlines this questions and how they apply to your companies purpose, goals, mission, and provide tips on alignment, integration, and finding a program champion.
- Congratulations for tuning into this video as I know it is extremely tempting to just jump in and start designing your mentoring program. Often we are under a lot of pressure to just get it done. However, if you skip the needs assessment step and go right into mentoring program design, it's like building a house with no foundation. Let's dig in and cover five questions you need to ask as a framework for your mentoring program. The first question is: what is the best way to gather data to understand what is happening? You need to perform a needs assessment and dig into why you need a mentoring program.
An excellent book that you can review for the specifics of needs assessment is Active Training by Mel Silberman and Elaine Biech. In this book, you will find an excellent overview of nine needs assessment techniques. These nine techniques are: observation, questionnaires, key consultation, print media, interviews, group discussion, tests, and records/reports. I always recommend using at least two different needs assessment methods, and immerse yourself in the data that you gather to understand what is going on in your company.
Second, ask: what is the overall purpose of your mentoring program? Are you trying to fix something that's broken? Like say, turnover, or inequity. Or, are you make a good thing better? Like developing your high potentials. I recommend that you try to articulate the overall purpose in 30 words or less, and get buy-in from stakeholders so that you all agree on this before you move forward. Third, ask: what are the specific measurable goals that you want to accomplish from your mentoring program? And what are the specific learning outcomes? For example, I'm working with a client a right now.
I learned from the needs assessment that the proteges lacked confidence in working with clients, and were very reluctant to make cold calls. So we decided that one of the goals of the mentoring program would be for mentors to help boost their proteges' confidence by having the proteges job shadow the mentors as they made cold calls and visited clients. Fourth, ask: how can your mentoring program align with your overall organizational strategy and existing programs? Try to get your mentoring program out of the box of the HR project, or some executive's whim of the week.
Instead, integrate your mentoring program into your organization's strategy, mission, and core values. For example, at Zappos, CEO Tony Hsieh highlights how training and mentorship are at the core of their pipeline strategy. In his words, "Our vision is for almost all of our hires "to be entry level, but for the company to provide "all the training and mentorship necessary, "so that any employee has the opportunity "to become a senior leader within five to seven years." At Zappos, they're all about growing their own, and mentoring is woven into the fabric of this approach.
Fifth, ask: who are the mentoring program champions in your organization, and what are they willing to do to support your program? If your mentoring program is going to be successful, you will need allies, resources, and ideally a top management champion. What does this look like in practice? For some companies, mentoring is actually part of every senior manager's performance review, and their compensation depends on them mentoring others. I recommend that you write a mentoring program manifesto using these five questions from this video as a guideline.
You may find that there's going to be some back and forth, as these are not easy questions to address. However, once you have consensus on these questions, I promise that you will have a strong foundation on which to build your mentoring program.
- The benefits of formal mentoring programs
- The types and purpose of mentoring programs
- Designing a framework and a needs assessment
- Creating a mentoring culture
- Ensuring organizational support
- Choosing participants
- Training essentials for mentors
- Concluding and celebrating your program
- Evaluating your program
- Making your mentoring program last