Virtual Mentoring FAQs:
Many of our customers have asked for advice and resources around engaging employees remotely through virtual mentoring. Below are the most frequently asked questions about virtual mentoring and answers from MentorcliQ’s mentoring experts. Keep reading to learn how best to engage your employees with virtual mentoring! And for more Virtual Mentoring Best Practices, check out our Virtual Mentoring Guides.
1. What should we be thinking about in terms of mentoring right now in light of the new remote-working realities?
- Assess what’s changed
- Communicate with your participants
- Ask participants for feedback
- Leverage technology to increase employee connections
- If your employees are not mentoring, get started!
Assess what’s changed
If you have an existing mentoring program, take a look at what may have changed. In terms of the participating employees, their day-to-day patterns may have been disrupted, but in terms of technology, the answer might be that not much has changed and no major modifications are actually needed. This tends to be especially true for organizations that have a large, geographically distributed workforce. Those organizations already have a significant amount of remote mentoring. In fact, more than 92% of all MentorcliQ customer mentoring relationships were already noted as primarily virtual before COVID-19 made the virtual option the only possibility. In any case, the primary challenge is engagement and commitment, and having a technology platform with tools to support engagement is a key benefit.
Communicate with your participants
Since engagement and commitment are known challenges, communicate with your mentoring community using the admin tools available to make that easy to keep track of and target specific groups with the mentoring program as necessary. Make sure they know what technology is available, how it can be used, and what resources are at their disposal (consider reaching out to your Client Partner or Success Coach to get a quick refresher yourself!). Encourage them to continue with the relationships even though slight modifications may be necessary (i.e. their mentor/mentee may need to adjust what time of day they prefer to meet because they have kids at home, etc.). In short, make sure that your mentoring population feels thought of and supported.
Ask participants for feedback
People are naturally creative so finding out how individuals are making mentoring work especially well for them and potentially revising how the company is supporting that will help your program evolve during these times of change. As a program Admin, you can easily access the data within each program to determine who the most active and engaged mentors/mentees are. Connecting with these groups can provide special insight into unique best practices within your employee population. Sharing these insights with other participants will help them feel more connected to the program and to the organization. This will also open up space for people to check in so you can see if there are any unaddressed needs.
Additionally, consider getting more proactive with sharing GOOD news and outcomes from the program (i.e. sharing high marks and positive anecdotal participant feedback results from a mid-cycle satisfaction survey – anonymized of course :).
Leverage technology to increase employee connections
By definition, virtual mentoring requires technology, and so leveraging technology is a key part of any successful virtual mentoring strategy. The great news is that if you’re a MentorcliQ customer, you’ve already made a fantastic investment in a platform that supports virtual mentoring by design. The key is to really make the technology work for your employees. At a minimum level, this should include reminding/educating your employees about what tools already exist within MentorcliQ to help keep them engaged and on-track. This can be accomplished through a custom communication within the admin tools, or even through a short webinar that you may want to host and make available to all participants. And don’t forget, this could be an excellent time to EXPAND inclusion to other employees that may now be interested in joining the program! Below are some key elements that all participants should know about MentorcliQ:
- Virtual By Design
MentorcliQ is available on any device and also via native mobile apps (if you have that enabled), so employees can engage easily while working remotely. Have you seen the MentorcliQ App? Check it out >>
- Global Ready
MentorcliQ is global ready, secure, GDPR privacy compliant, and available in multiple languages if needed for your global employees.
- On-Demand Support
Automated program support, training resources, and advice for your participants and your program admins.
MentorcliQ is virtual by design and offers all of these features – reach out to your client partner or contact us to learn more.
2. Is virtual/remote mentoring as effective as in-person mentoring?
Surprisingly -Yes! Virtual mentoring is as effective as in-person mentoring, and in most cases, virtual mentoring is the primary type of mentoring offered by organizations because their employees are spread out in different offices and/or around the globe. But, don’t just take my word for it:
Harvard Business Review conducted a study with The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and found that virtual mentoring encourages people to connect with experts across multiple domains, which ultimately helped people broaden their network, become more innovative, and feel more connected to their organization.
What’s different about virtual mentoring?
Every aspect of the mentoring relationship, from goal setting to meeting those goals is the same for virtual mentoring as it is for traditional in-person/face to face mentoring. The only difference is HOW you actually meet. And remember, the important thing is that people are actually connecting, so MentorcliQ recommends that mentors/mentees agree on their preferred method to meet and remain flexible rather than try to enforce a one-size-fits-all approach.
MentorcliQ Expert Recommendations:
- More quick touchpoints with mobile chat:
Encourage your participants to touch based more frequently and more informally using online chat. This helps them maintain connection and offers a way to get timely advice.
- Use video chat for scheduled meetups
Meet with video calls instead of just voice or email for a more personal approach. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, a picture is worth 1,000 words and a smile from your mentor or mentee is worth a million!
3. As we prepare our employees for a new way of doing business with remote work, are there any ideas on how we can enhance our mentoring programs?
In any business cycle, employees need to transfer knowledge, build skills, and strengthen their internal professional community. Mentoring is ideal for supporting each of these areas, and will help your employees navigate the transitions that are happening within the organization.
With significant business challenges and a newly remote workforce, special mentoring program formats and areas of focus can help employees and the business adapt. While specific program structure is contextual and specific to the organizational changes taking place, here are some program ideas to consider:
- Open Programs
An Open Program is often less structured and has the benefit of being more INCLUSIVE since it is designed to be an open enrollment format and can help people feel connected to their peers and organization. This is especially true as teams are transitioning to remote work.
- One To One Programs
Connecting for one-to-one mentoring is always effective for virtual relationships and allows employees to get more personal with their individual developmental needs.
- Mentoring Circles
Creating community/affinity groups for mentoring around key elements like employees with young kids, related in-home hobbies, or other non-work related themes can UP the fun and the engagement while employees are seeking remote connection.
- Quick Connections
Sometimes all is needed is a quick chat or a flash mentoring session to get inspired and stay on track. This is often limited to 1-3 meetings and occurs over a short period.
Reach out to your MentorcliQ success coach for ideas that are specific to your organization’s needs or contact us at info@mentorcliQ.com.
4. Should we adjust our mentoring plans based on changes happening at our company?
First, take the time to understand what changes may be happening at your company and then evaluate your current mentoring strategy through the lens of those changes. Give yourself the space to make revisions over time. Remembering to be thoughtful about the bigger picture of your organization and your employees’ needs is helpful as you also work to create immediate benefits for the shorter term.
Numerous MentorcliQ customers are taking immediate action to launch additional mentoring programs to address emerging employee needs, or launching programs earlier than scheduled to engage the newly remote workforce sooner. In some cases the right solution could be to extend a current mentoring cycle, and/or consider making existing programs more inclusive by opening enrollment to more employees or directly inviting additional employees segments to enroll.
While the specific needs of every organization varies, MentorcliQ is here to support you and to offer our expertise to help you address your unique challenges – we LOVE to help our customers!
Some ideas that MentorcliQ experts can explore with you:
- Launch a new program to support remote employees: Open Program, Community/Affinity Groups, Mentoring Circles and Quick Connections.
- Extending the timeline of your current program can maintain a sense of normalcy and continuity as you make plans for new offerings or cycles.
- Revisit milestones, goals and scheduled communications, and any customized program specific resources you may have added to make sure they are still inline with what your employees need right now.
- Flexibility is key. Some changes may be an individual conversation between the mentoring pairs. You should prompt the pairs to discuss and reevaluate their focus areas, goals, and milestones.
The beautiful thing is that we humans are adaptable, creative, and can deal with whatever life throws at us, especially when we work as a team – MentorcliQ is here to help!
5. Do you have any virtual mentoring advice for participants?
Yes! We created these Virtual Mentoring Tips For Participants. You can share these 5 ways to maintain the human connection and mentoring momentum while mentoring virtually with your participants.
- Keep Mentoring
- Get Face Time
- Keep It Real
- Allow Messiness
- Show You Care
If you want to discuss next steps to enhance virtual mentoring for your employees, or if you have specific program structure questions, please reach out to your client partner or success coach and they can help right away. You can also email us at info@mentorcliQ.com and we can connect you to the right person.
Virtual Mentoring Toolkit:
Ready to get started with your mentoring initiative?
Connect with MentorcliQ to see how mentoring programs powered by mentoring software and our framework can impact and improve your employees’ virtual mentoring experience.