Imagine if you are new to a job and a senior manager takes you under his wing. With his help, you are given an insider’s perspective on the inner workings of the company as well as a ready support system you can tap on.

If you had been assigned a mentor from day one, you would have had a smoother and less stressful process.

Employees are every company’s greatest assets, so it is in every CEO’s best interest to develop them to their fullest potential. If executed well, a successful mentoring programme is an effective method to enhance the professional growth of an organisation’s people.

Mentoring is the sharing of knowledge with the aim of furthering the career development of both mentor and mentee, creating a win-win relationship between the two.

Mentoring incorporates a coaching framework that helps to identify the mentee’s skill gaps as well as address the behaviours that need to be changed, improved or removed.

Mentoring doesn’t necessarily need to occur from the first day of an employee’s job. It can be implemented at any stage of a person’s career as it helps him to have a clearer understanding of his career path and better navigate the route to his professional goals.

It also gives the mentee greater knowledge of the factors that contribute to career success within the organisation as the mentee has direct access to the senior level perspectives and experiences of his mentor.

For a mentoring programme to be successful, mentors and mentees need to participate voluntarily. Forcing individuals to be part of the programme is simply counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve.

You can imagine how a reluctant mentor’s negative attitude will rub off on the mentee, and the destructive effects it will have on the both their morales. Conversely, a mentee who has been coerced to participate will grow to resent the company and may even sabotage the process.

Here’s a guide on how to get started on creating a successful mentoring programme within your organisation:

Determine your needs

First and foremost, you should determine why you are planning a mentoring programme. What are the qualitative and quantitative outcomes you intend to achieve?

You need to also ascertain if your organisation has the capacity to carry one out successfully. Identify the number and type of employees (junior professionals, middle managers, etc) who want to build relationships with, and learn from, senior management, especially those high-potential employees the company wants to groom for leadership positions.

At the other end of the spectrum, you need to ascertain whether such senior-level individuals are willing to participate in the programme and are able to commit their time for this purpose. Also, will the mentoring be structured on a one-on-one basis, in a group format or even conducted solely via e-mail?

Build support

Despite its many benefits, don’t assume that everyone in your organisation will be supportive of this idea. Thus, it is important for you to draw up and present a clear business case to justify the need for a mentoring initiative.

Draft an internal marketing plan to win approval from senior management as well as champion and promote the programme throughout your organisation. Your plan should include an organisational rationale, expected outcomes, required staff, budget or resources needed, action steps, timeline and method for evaluation.

Select the right mentors

Just because an individual has clocked a certain number of years with your company doesn’t mean he will make a good mentor.

A mentor should be someone who is respected, successful and understands the culture of the organisation as he will play the role of a guide or counsellor. He must also be willing to commit his time and share his knowledge freely.

Next: More steps to creating a successful mentoring programme