Mentoring programs can play an essential role in preparing a company for growth. If an entrepreneur isn’t helping employees develop in their roles, there may be no qualified and capable staff members to help the company grow once business picks up. Even if a business owner is currently responsible for all major decisions, once a company starts to grow that will have to change. Entrepreneurs need reliable team players they can promote when it’s time to expand, but if they aren’t intentional about how they train their employees, they could run into difficulties.

While a mentoring program isn’t typically thought of as an important business builder, it can help an operation that plans on expanding. Having a proper mentoring program is one way an entrepreneur can ensure that when the time comes, lower-level employees will be prepared to take on new positions and contribute to an organization’s growth. However, many business leaders lack a mentoring program, something they need to address if they want to develop current employees and see their staff members as an important part of the company’s future.

Create a Program
All too often, mentoring programs fall apart. There are many things to consider when implementing an initiative, and these concerns must be addressed for a program to be successful.

While a business owner can certainly serve as a mentor to those who wish to grow and learn, they may be pressed for time and unable to fully commit to scheduled mentoring sessions. Entrepreneurs should consider who will be a mentor for other employees to turn to. Employees who have been with a company for an extended period may be enthusiastic about acting as mentors and can provide valuable insight, no matter the role they play within the business.

Aside from determining which employees will play a key role in developing other staff members, it is also important for business owners to decide what they want a mentoring program to accomplish. They may want lower-level workers to get a better sense of how the business operates, learn more about important sales and client management strategies or even improve staff communication skills. While there aren’t right or wrong things to get out of a mentoring program, it’s important to identify objectives to determine how a program is faring. With no clear goals, a business owner won’t know if his or her program is successful.

Deciding which employees will have the opportunity to take part is another thing that needs to be considered. While a business owner may have an idea of which team members could be developed and help a company grow in the long run, limiting opportunities for other workers may not always be the best idea. When a mentoring program should be open to all junior staff members, entrepreneurs may be surprised by what some employees can learn and utilize in daily work practices.

Make it Effective
Just because a firm implements a mentoring program and sticks to the goals, there’s no guarantee it will succeed in creating a company’s future leaders. In order to make mentoring work, management teams need to be willing to use the most effective practices possible to develop their employees and prepare them to take on more responsibilities.

Maximizing the full potential of your progam.
One of the most important factors to remember is not basing mentoring relationships on age alone. While many business owners may conjure an image of an experienced, wise employee tutoring a new college grad, mentoring programs can take many forms. Younger workers may be able to teach more experienced workers how to better utilize the latest technology in the workplace or employ social media as a marketing and growth tool, or even teach other junior staff members how to more effectively communicate with clients. Mentoring relationships can be enormously beneficial. Being open to exploring unconventional approaches to mentoring, can add considerable value to your business.

Integrating your mentoring program
Once goals have been set and mentors have been designated, it’s important to ensure they follow through on expectations and take the time to perform their new responsibilities as expected. It’s also essential to set expectations for those receiving mentoring. If one employee is devoting time to being a mentor and teaching valuable new skills to other team members, those workers should know exactly what is expected of them. Entrepreneurs should ensure junior employees know they’re being mentored and take the time to utilize what they’ve learned on the job. Those who aren’t willing to learn are wasting time and likely won’t be capable of growing and contributing to the firm in the long run.