Learning management systems offer lots of advantages. They’re scalable, flexible, deliver the power of automation, and more. However, how do they dovetail with older training and education methods, such as mentoring? Mentoring is a great fit for eLearning, and there are several ways that you can integrate a mentorship program here. In this post, we’ll explore what you need to know. Free download: Developing Talent and Tapping Into Potential Through Corporate Mentoring
How Can Mentoring Go Digital?
Mentoring is often seen as a personal, face-to-face process. It’s about one person helping another to develop themselves, both professionally and personally. How can you digitize that? Actually, mentoring fits very well into the digital world thanks to new tools. These include online collaboration tools, digital communication methods, and even in-progress monitoring and tracking capabilities. However, don’t assume that digitization somehow eliminates the personal element. Mentoring is and will remain a personal process focusing on the unique needs and challenges of the person being mentored.
How Does Mentoring Fit in Your Learning Management System?
To understand how mentoring fits within an LMS, we need to look at the basic components that mentorship needs to succeed within any environment, not just the digital world.
- Your Team: The process starts not with the learning management system, but with your mentorship team. Make sure you’ve built a strong, competent team that matches your needs in terms of both mentoring and familiarity with digital technology. Who will be part of the team? Are they able to offer guidance, training, and insight to those you’ve identified as in need of mentoring? Who is overseeing the program? They will need to run interference and mediate mentors and mentees, plus interact with others within the organization.
- Goals: Make sure you identify the primary goals of the mentorship program. What are your objectives? Usually, these will be specific to the type of mentorship program. For example, if you are mentoring new hires, then the goals of the program are going to vary significantly from one designed to groom rising talent for higher positions within the company. Ensure that the goals are clearly stated and then map those objectives to capabilities within the LMS.
- Make Sure You Can Track Progress: The entire point of mentorships is to help upskill employees and build competency in areas where they might be lacking. Make sure that you are able to track progress toward those goals. The LMS can help in several ways here, including real-time reporting, progress reports, and insight into modules and content completed along with related scores (including scores both before and after mentoring, which can directly show the impact of mentoring on the mentee).
- Involve Mentors: One important consideration here is to make sure that your mentors are involved in the development process of the LMS-tied mentorship program. Listen to their feedback and requests. Get their opinion of functionality and ease of access. For example, suppose an employee needs to improve their communication skill for their role in customer support. Getting a mentor involved might show you that having an actual simulation of customer/employee interaction would work better than something else.
Finding People to Be Mentors
One challenge that many organizations face is a lack of mentors to help guide and develop employees. An LMS can be instrumental here, as well. In fact, the right eLearning platform can deliver some pretty impressive benefits and capabilities.
Your mentors should be drawn from the ranks of the most experienced employees and those with the best grasp of specific skills. Within your LMS, you should have access to detailed analytics that help you answer the question “who’s the best at this in our organization?”. For instance, you can check records of modules completed to determine who completed them in the least amount of time and with the highest scores. These metrics are good indicators of employees with good competency in particular areas.
Use your LMS to run pre-assessments that give you insight into your employees’ backgrounds, interests, passions, and expertise. While this is a vital part of determining where you may have a skills gap, it is also a good way to determine who in your organization has the strongest skills in a particular area. Then, you can pair strong/weak team members and benefit from mentoring.
Use Peer Reviews to Vet
Think you’ve found a great potential mentor? Use peer reviews to really make sure that you’re choosing the right candidate. Peer reviews can be conducted through your LMS via surveys and will help you get the opinion of an employee’s peers/coworkers and their thoughts on their viability as a mentor. This can also be used to determine other people who might be good candidates by finding out who within your organization those employees usually turn to for answers to specific questions.
Ensure You Have Collaboration Tools
Mentorship programs operated primarily through the LMS will require the right tools in order to succeed. Make sure that you have collaboration tools in place and that both the mentor and mentee know how to use those tools. Key capabilities include message posting, Q&A sessions, document sharing, link sharing, event scheduling, learning activity assignment, and more.
Finally, make sure that you have access to in-depth reporting. The mentor should have the ability to create reports manually, but your LMS should also track and record progress, scores, and other data. This is about more than assuring accountability with your mentors. It’s about ensuring that progress is being made and that your employees are mastering critical skills.
Mentorships and learning management systems might not seem to go together at first glance, but they’re actually a very good fit. However, it will require that you take some specific steps ahead of time. Know the goals of your program, know who will be mentoring whom, and then ensure they have the means to communicate and collaborate through the system. With the right LMS, mentoring can be more successful than ever.