With exceptional leaders come exceptional employees. A solid mentoring program in your workplace can be a powerful development tool for both.

Over 79% of millennial employees see mentoring as crucial to their career success and are increasingly looking for employers who offer mentorship programs.

As a busy small business owner, you may think you don’t have the time to implement a mentoring program in your business to attract (and retain) great employees. But if you follow these four tips, you’ll be in a better place to start.

1. Clearly define the mentorship program

Start by evaluating the skills gaps in your business. Does the business need to achieve higher sales, improve customer service, or perhaps transfer key knowledge across business units and teams?

By having a clear definition of success, you’ll be in a better position to identify:
 
  • who should participate in the program
  • who already possesses key skills or knowledge that would benefit others
  • which individual needs and ambitions align with the goals of your program.

2. Support your mentors from the start 

Not everyone is born to be the perfect mentor and many might not be equipped with the skills an effective mentor requires.

Successful mentors mean successful mentees, and more positive outcomes for the business. Provide mentorship training that helps your mentors develop skills and knowledge, including:
 
  • constructive feedback skills
  • listening and communication skills
  • inspirational leadership skills
  • observational skills
  • patience and enthusiasm
  • knowledge of company policies and procedures.

3. Include mentors and mentees in the matching process

There’s a lot more to successfully matching mentors and mentees than just personality. Random matching can result in a ‘hit and miss’ situation, with the deterioration of workplace relationships prompting damage control.

Mentees should be carefully paired with mentors that meet a number of criteria. For example:
 
  • similar interests and hobbies
  • compatible personalities
  • generational similarities
  • experience and skills that complement the mentee’s career goals.

4. Check in on the progress consistently

Mentorship programs in the workplace are rarely perfect the first time around. That’s why it’s important to gather feedback from participants on their experience, the perceived benefits, and any recommendations they might have for future improvements.

Remember the objectives you set for the program in the beginning and revisit on a timely basis. Look at sales, productivity, customer service feedback and collaboration between business units on the closure of the program, and measure how close you came to success.

By using the knowledge acquired from every iteration of the program, you’ll be able to continuously improve the effectiveness of your workplace mentorship program.