11 Steps to Launching Your Corporate Mentoring Initiative in 2016

Want to drive retention at your company? It's time to start mentoring.

Over the past few months, I have been writing extensively about the business case for skills-based mentoring to retain Millennials and women. The vast majority of Millennials want to be mentored and prefer a mentoring or coaching style of management.

In honor of National Mentoring Month, here are 11 suggested steps to launch your corporate mentoring program in 2016:

1) Align the program with top goals of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion, Corporate Social Responsibility. Work closely with employee resource groups (ERG's) that have shared vision to build collaboratively.

2) Know and value that many people in your company are already mentoring others informally. Celebrate this! Identify employees already mentoring as a baseline and set a goal for the next 12 - 48 months for the company or your department.

3] Start capturing metrics early. You get what you measure, especially if your company is looking for more diversity in Science, Tech, Engineering & Math (STEM) careers.

4) Develop a mentor action guide that aligns with your top priorities. So often good people come together in mentoring programs, but they are unsure how to best spend their time together. Break down by sample activities or conversations, hour by hour with room for innovation and flexibility. It's very important to have a mini-contract or agreement letter to set expectations on the front end and suggested duration of mentoring.

5) Hold focus groups to ensure feasibility and that this model is a fit for both mentor and mentee. Consider partnerships with Universities as part of your pipeline strategy as well as fabulous non-profits that have mentoring as part of their foundational mission.

6) THINK BIGGER! Mentoring has a big ROI for companies. It's all about employee engagement & culture. More than a program, why not create a MentoringCulture at your work for 2016. Some ideas to get you started: Put mentoring into performance reviews, job descriptions. Align with company culture statements & a key video messages from the top. Every senior leader ideally takes on at least two protege-mentees that are not direct reports as part of the fabric of the company.

7) Consider reverse mentoring benefits as a WIN-WIN. It's empowering and we can all acknowledge how much there is to learn from our younger workforce around technology, collaboration and more. Also, if you have more mentees than mentors, schedule standing coffee sessions with 1:2 or 1:3 ratio max.

8) USE TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS- Explore online software platforms for mentoring. Some examples are Chronus, River, Everwise, Brazen Careerist, MentorNet, Skype, Google Chats and more.

9) IDEAL WHEN PEOPLE CHOOSE EACH OTHER. Have fun with some flash mentoring sessions in person or online (think speed dating). Have mentees meet 3-5 potential mentors for 6-8 minutes each and visa-versa.

10) Offer employees one to two hour blocks monthly dedicated to professional development with their mentee(s). Start peer mentoring circles (see Leanin.org) especially for mid-career & senior executives.

11) Recognize recognize recognize... Your employees who take time to mentor & understand the strong value proposition for them. They are the ones driving retention at your company, breaking down pockets of isolation, and championing your future workforce.

I wish you great luck in moving mountains for the people who you work with. Rob Base was right, it does take two to make it outta sight.

Julie Kantor is Chief Executive Officer of Twomentor, LLC, a management consulting firm that works passionately with clients to build Mentoring Cultures and Elevate Women in STEM Careers. She lives in Bethesda Maryland with her husband, middle school daughter and Havanese pup, Naomi