Oct 31, 2013

As an HR decision-maker, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny the positive effects of a strong mentoring program within your organization.

The HR role has evolved within organizations to include running mentoring programs, which are commonly adopted to foster employee engagement and learning. Typically, the organizations can witness several benefits of their mentoring programs, including:

  • Career Planning and Leadership Development;
  • Diversity initiatives;
  • Onboarding new employees;
  • Increased employee engagement;
  • Internal knowledge transfer.

How do you know its working?

So, now that your organization has decided to join the more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies with an official mentoring program, how do you confirm that the program is working?

While the HR department and other key influencers in the organization may be completely on board with a mentoring program, measuring success is extremely important for harnessing support throughout the rest of the company.

When measuring these programs, organizers must first consider the initiative in the context of a higher business need, then setting realistic key performance indicators and targets, and finally elaborate on the strategy with segments and measurement tactics.

Organizational objectives

Organizational objectives are established to answer the common questions, “Why does this initiative exist?” While mentoring is typically just one of several programs established to reach a larger organizational objective, it can be applied to nearly every goal your company is trying to achieve internally.

Sample goals can include:

  • Improving managerial competency with competency-based mentoring for managers at various levels.
  • Improve leadership bench strength through identification of high-potential employees to cultivate leadership skills, including relationship development with an executive sponsor.
  • Improve time to proficiency for new hires by a mandatory six-month mentoring program for new skill and role training.
  • Retain and transfer knowledge through situational and topical mentoring around high-value, tacit knowledge areas.
  • Create an inclusive, diverse culture with individual sponsorship, dedicated special interest groups and career development support.
  • Retain talent through a long-term career planning and personal development mentoring program.

Key Performance Indicators

Once an organizational initiative has been established, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be identified to specifically measure success. Typically, KPIs in a mentoring program should evaluate just a few major areas:

  • Acquisition/increase in number of participants;
  • Behavior within the program;
  • Outcomes at an organizational level.

These areas will help to establish and determine the cause-and-effect relationship between successes and failures. For example, if employee satisfaction is high among participants of the program, yet membership in the mentoring program is still low, you’ve identified that membership is the key factor in achieving the high-level objectives.

Borrowing some of our objectives from above, we can provide examples of KPIs that can measure these objectives.

  • If our objective is to retain talent, we can measure this through retention rates, employee engagement, and employee satisfaction.
  • To create an inclusive and diverse culture, track advancement rates, retention rates, and the employee perception of an organization.
  • If our goal is improve managerial competency, we should evaluate expertise based on competency assessment, the number of sessions completed on average per mentored employee, internal promotions within the ranks, improved job performance ratings, and the achievement of individual development targets

Targets and segments

Once Key Performance Indicators are established, an organization can establish targets (the measures of success) and segments (the populations, behaviors, or outcomes to analyze against the targets).

By establishing this process, objectives will turn into SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. A best practice that organizations can employ is to measure improvement for a specific segment against an organizational baseline, or another population segment.

As an example, if you’d like to retain talent, implement a mentoring initiative open to all employees. Your KPI will be your retention rate, your target may be to retain 95 percent of employees for three (3) years, and your segment for measuring results will be mentored employees who complete a partnership.

A good practice is to measure improvement for a specific segment against an organizational baseline or another segment. Groups to compare against each other may include:

  • Employees who were not in the mentoring program;
  • Employees who joined but did not complete the program;
  • Employees who completed the program.

How to measure your results

Now that we’ve established what KPIs to measure, you’ll need specific ways to measure them against benchmarks to make sure that your mentoring program is performing as well as it can.

For an example, Key Performance Indicators that track acquisition and behavior, such as program participation and completion, should be evaluated through user workflows and segments. Does a successfully completed mentor program mean that a mentee has been schooled in at least five topic areas, engaged in three different sessions, or established a six month record of success?

Once you’ve defined and developed your goals and measurement metrics, you can set up the mechanics of how you will measure your results. This is where a software program can help, software programs can provide several metric features, including:

  • Analytics: track the program and individual connection progress;
  • Reports: view real-time performance and export details for further analysis;
  • Surveys: acquire feedback from participants throughout all phases of program.

Armed with these program objectives, Key Performance Indicators, and measurement tactics, HR executives and other stakeholders within the company can effectively implement and measure the success of a mentoring program, leading to increased employee engagement and a stronger workforce.