Fun Fact: 84% of Fortune 500 companies now use mentoring programs (MentorcliQ).
This stat should come as no surprise. The best business owners and managers know the benefits of having a mentorship program are vast.
- Mentorship programs:
- Help develop leadership and management skills
- Improve onboarding and acclimate new hires faster
- Boost employee retention
- Help develop meaningful work relationships
… All of which leads to a more productive, profitable business.
Starting a Mentorship Program in the Shop
Oftentimes, what we see is even though most shop owners and managers know that a technician mentorship program could help their business in numerous ways, they either:
- Don’t know how to get started creating a mentorship program, or
- Have some sort of a mentorship “program” in place, but haven’t found success.
Below is a basic outline of how shops can get started creating a successful mentorship program for technicians.
Steps to Building a Successful Technician Mentorship Program
1. Define desired outcomes and milestones.
First things first, when starting a technician mentorship program, owners/managers need to begin by identifying their desired outcomes:
- What does a successful mentorship relationship look like?
- What knowledge or skills should the mentee learn from the program?
- What knowledge or skills will the mentor gain from the program?
With the end goal in mind, owners/managers can develop milestones to ensure the mentor-mentee relationship stays on track throughout the program. Milestones can include the mentee being able to perform certain jobs on their own, reaching a certain productivity level, or anything else that helps work towards the desired outcomes.
Once desired outcomes and milestones are established, then it’s time to do an assessment to determine if any tools are needed to reach the desired outcome. Tools can include: Guides, individual development plans, check lists, etc.
2. Designate a program champion.
A champion is a person who takes ownership and leads a project or initiative in a company. By assigning a champion, shops can drastically improve the likelihood of a successful mentorship program.
The champion in charge of the technician mentorship program should be responsible for things like:
- Connecting mentors with mentees and making initial introductions
- Checking in on progress
- Resolving any issues
- Reporting progress and/or challenges to the shop owner/manager (aka “executive sponsor”)
3. Identify the mentees.
Select the group (or groups) of people who will be a part of the mentoring program as mentees. Mentorship programs are especially effective for:
- Interns and students
- Recent graduates
- All new hires
- All lower level technicians
It may be best to start with one of these groups. Then, as the mentorship program develops, owners/managers can look at tailoring the program for some of these other groups.
4. Develop mentor criteria and identify potential mentors.
Remember, the best technician is not always the best mentor. Make sure to take the time to determine what knowledge and skills a technician should possess in order to be a mentor.
Not only do mentors need to have the technical knowledge, but they also need to have the soft skills (i.e., patience, communication, listening, etc.) to successfully teach/coach another technician.
5. Set expectations and make sure the process is understood.
In the beginning of every mentor-mentee relationship, it’s imperative that the champion sits down with both the mentor and the mentee to discuss all the details of the mentorship program, including:
- Desired outcomes
- Available resources
- Process & expectations
Shops can even have a “Mentorship Agreement” that both the mentor and mentee sign at the beginning of their relationship to ensure they understand all of the above.
6. Check in regularly.
“Set it and forget it” are famous last words. The champion should be sure to check in regularly with BOTH the mentor and the mentee. This ensures that they are making progress and staying on track. Additionally, if there are any issues, they can be addressed right away before they have the potential to turn into bigger problems.
Check Out the Full Technician Mentoring Guide & Resources
WrenchWay Top Shops can access the full guide on How to Create an Effective Mentoring Program—complete with forms and checklists—in the WrenchWay client portal. Simply go to Guides > Tips – Performance Management & Retention > How to Create an Effective Mentoring Program.
Roundtable: How Top Shops Structure Technician Mentorship Programs
We recently hosted a roundtable, How Top Shops Structure Technician Mentorship Programs. Check out the recording below!