If you’re not getting the desired engagement in your mentoring initiative from your program participants, you might consider privately asking them why. Here’s the important part: actually hear them out. They’ll feel better having voiced their concerns, and you can actually use that feedback to improve how the program works for your team. All too often HR administrators avoid transparency, but that approach is old-fashioned. Let your colleagues know that you hear their concerns and let them in a little, and you’ll open a dialogue. Before you know it, engagement has already started. Here are some things you might hear:
‘Mentoring Didn’t Work for Me in the Past.’
There aren’t enough Oprah-endorsed stories in the world to convince someone a mentorship will work for them if they’ve had a negative experience in the past. This complaint could come from a potential mentor or mentee. Remind them that not every mentoring program is the same, and assure them that you’re developing a plan customized for this team.
‘I Don’t Have Time for That!’
This is probably the response you’ll get most often. No team’s workload diminishes just because there’s a mentorship program in place. Establish a set time every week that the entire company works on mentorship. Maybe this is Friday from 9:00 am – 10:00 am. No one can schedule any other meetings or tasks during that time. If you’re using a handy digital management system, like eMentorConnect’s KNOX®, you’ll be able to provide prompts and track responses weekly. Your participants now have an appointment, and they don’t have to worry that coworkers are surpassing their productivity while they’re working on mentorship tasks. No one wants to think they’ll be that one nice guy finishing last.
‘But Why Should I Do It?’
Establishing rewards for supplementary programs that appeal to everyone can be difficult. Mentees who are participating in an onboarding process have something to prove, but their experienced mentor counterparts might feel that they don’t. Some team members might respond to gold stars and free coffee, but for others with busy personal lives, the rewards may not be worth the time. You can establish a universally appealing reward from the beginning by relying on our natural, human competitiveness. If you send an email about the program with each person in the office CC’d (always mandate a response), you can create a sort of cultural accountability that holds employees responsible. Basically, someone is more likely to respond when they see that every person in the office is included and engaged. Peer pressure, baby. It works every time.