Blog March 2022

Season one of the mentorship program: What have we learned?

Last year, Agitavit implemented the Agitavit UP (Upgrade Performance) mentorship program for the first time, with 17 pairs taking part in the program. Upon completion, the mentorship pairs provided their feedback on the implemented activities, which was used to plan the changes for the season two. In the blog post, I present the key highlights of our experience.

In the Agitavit UP mentorship program, we support our culture and strengthen our values (such as cooperation, knowledge, and quality of work) by bringing our employees together and encouraging knowledge exchange. The goal of the project is to ensure continued growth, learning, and the development of Agitavit employees’ careers. The positive impacts we have identified include the exchange of tacit knowledge, increased cooperation between different teams, continued and organic succession development, increased creativity and long-term positive effects on the climate and organisational culture (increased cooperation and trust as well as the encouragement and empowerment of each Agitavit employee).

In season one, 21 new mentors attended the three-day mentor training. With their knowledge and skills, they cover a comprehensive spectrum of general and specific skills (from communication, coaching, and project management to technical skills, such as .NET, Angular, and React). Participating in the challenges were 17 mentorship pairs who had set goals in seven different areas (from agile HR and copywriting to the Scrum methodology and software development).

The success of season one was a great takeaway for the organisation of season two, which was started in November 2021. Before this, we collected information about the lessons learned, which allowed us to plan improvements for season two.

1. Digitalisation is important, but it has to be customisable

The mentorship program was facilitated by digital tools such as the digital mentorship diary (available in eHRM) and Teams channels used for saving the mentorship pairs’ documents. This way, each mentorship pair could access information about the progress made in achieving the set goals, while the work and invested effort could be traced and used in subsequent stages.

In season one, we found that pairs have different needs when it comes to digital support: the mentorship diary is enough for some, while others also use other available tools. We have to provide them with different options and allow them to select the combination that suits them best.

2. Active engagement of the mentee is the key

The developed mentorship program relies on the active engagement of the mentee. We believe that the added value is in the time they have to invest. Without it, developing skills is virtually impossible. Each person has to be motivated, otherwise the mentorship program will fail to bring the desired results. The mentor also plays an important role, as they have to encourage and engage the mentee.

3. Real-world examples as guidance

In designing the program, we faced a dilemma, as we did not know if the participants would find the time to take part in the mentorship activities on top of their regular job obligations. We found that it is useful for the mentee to start working on real-world cases that they can use in their work as soon as possible. This way, mentorship can work in tandem with work. If this is not possible, a well-planned methodology – such as simulations and role play – is important. This allows the mentee to get concrete feedback.

4. Revisiting goals is not something to be scared of

Since this was the first time for many mentors and mentees to play this role, setting goals was marked by uncertainty and lack of knowledge. In the very first coordination meeting, which took place two months after the commencement of Agitavit UP, we found that certain goals were set too broadly or were ambiguous. We clearly informed the pairs that they can revisit, change, or rewrite goals set in their first meeting. This way, the mentorship pair will never lose their motivation for work.

5. The key role of the process owner

For most mentors and mentees, this was the first time in this role. We have assessed as positive the role of the process owner (in our case HR), who performed a 1-on-1 “check-in” with the mentorship pair. In the meeting, we discussed their problems. The challenges that we encountered often seemed trivial to them but affected their motivation and execution significantly. It is essential that they are solved as soon as possible.

In the mentorship program, it is essential that we keep asking ourselves what else we can improve. Mentorship pairs can be of great help here, as they share their experiences with us, such as what worked and what did not, what they missed, and where there is still room for improvement. We believe that the longer that Agitavit UP mentorship is in use, the more experienced our mentors and mentees will be, which will also allow us to continuously develop our mentorship process.

Staša Jager Meglič
Staša Jager Meglič
HR Manager
Staša holds a master's degree in sociology and has completed training in integrative psychotherapy. She has more than eight years of experience in leading soft skills workshops for various clients and as HR Manager at Agitavita she is responsible for all HR development processes. When facilitating workshops, she uses the 4MAT method and has a deep understanding of motivational theories and individual/group development.
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