How to Get Actionable Feedback from your Employee Mentorship Programs

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
December 9, 2021

Getting valuable feedback on employee mentorship programs can be a major challenge for the human resources teams that manage these engaging employee development programs. A lack of technology and resources can be barriers to collecting data, in addition to employee comfort levels, as they will need to be candid about their colleagues if they don’t have positive experiences.

Collecting feedback from all mentors and mentees can be a resource intensive task; especially if the mentorship program is manually run. As a solution, technology can seamlessly get input about corporate mentorship programs for HR leaders and program administrators, through a survey software or a mentorship program platform. Mentorship platforms like ours have feedback features embedded within the programming at key points in time, which makes it easy to track and collect data.

Here, we'll go over a multifaceted approach that leverages technology, survey softwares and informal interviewing techniques for HR leaders and program administrators to get structured and standardized data about their employee mentorship programs.

Craft thoughtful mentorship program surveys

Surveys are the simplest way to get standardized feedback from a large audience. When designing surveys, HR teams should start by reviewing the goals and the mission of the mentorship program, so that the obtained information aligns to their program, department and organizational objectives. Creating a proper framework, carefully deciding the types of questions to ask and leveraging technology are strategies that program administrators can use to obtain useful mentorship program data.

Creating a survey framework

First, as a program administrator, you’ll need to decide if the questionnaire is anonymous or not. One effective option is to opt for confidential survey responses rather than anonymous ones which allows participants to answer honestly without fear that colleagues, managers or leaders will see their responses.

The length of the survey is another factor to consider. According to Survey Monkey, the more questions asked, the less time the respondents spend answering each question. They researched 100,000 surveys of 30 questions or less and found that it takes most people five minutes to answer a 10-question survey. Based on this, a 10–15 question survey (depending on how many free-response questions asked) could be best to get meaningful responses that don’t overwhelm the participating mentors and mentees.

Drafting survey questions

Creating thoughtful survey questions is key to getting high quality responses. Qualtrics gives the following tips to craft a survey that provides actionable feedback.

  1. Ask direct questions - Vague ones make it hard for respondents to give clear answers.
  2. Ask one question at a time - Questions should be simple and should narrow down one specific ask.
  3. Provide mutually exclusive choices - Answers shouldn’t overlap. For example, it’s difficult for respondents to know the difference between good or satisfactory.
  4. Limit the number of open text fields - Free-response questions take longer to answer, and people get impatient when there are too many.
  5. Use consistent scale points and structures - For example, if you’re asking scaled questions, always keep the answer between 1 and 5. And make sure you don’t switch the scale throughout the survey.

Also, don’t assume a single response format will work for your entire survey. Survey experts at the Pew Research Center have shown that survey answers can be impacted by the use of open-ended or multiple choice questions. For example, if you’re asking the question “What skills have you learned from your mentor?” and time management, email writing, networking, and customer service are listed as the response options, you may not capture all the potential outcomes, as the choices are too specific. A careful balance of open- and closed-ended questions will provide accurate survey data.

Survey questions can include:

  • Since the program’s start, what have you learned from your mentor or mentee? (open)
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how valuable has the mentorship program been to achieving your professional goals? (closed)
  • What do you hope to get out of the mentor-mentee relationship? (open)
  • How would you improve the mentorship program? (open)
  • Was your mentor/mentee a valuable addition to your network? (closed)

Use technology to obtain your mentorship program data

Comprehensive mentorship platforms will give insight into participant engagement, meeting tracking and outcomes, as well as overall program health surveys and scores. For example, our Ten Thousand Coffees platform collects data at key points (pre, mid and post) during the mentorship program which provides a real-time health score and detailed mentor/mentee statuses. In addition, program managers can survey participants at any point of the program, like after every meeting, or at a set time to do a pulse check. This timely feedback is then reflected into the real-time data dashboard which measures match quality scores, the number of times the matches have met and the quality of their meetings.

Check in regularly (but not too much)

Asking regularly for feedback helps program administrators assess what’s going well and what’s not. The number of check-ins will depend on the length of the mentorship program and how often mentors and mentees meet. It’s best to collect data right after meetings, so it’s fresh in the participants’ minds.

If you’re eliciting the same program information month to month, researchers at the Pew Research Center emphasize it’s important to survey the same questions in the same order to maintain a similar context.

Interview mentors and mentees who give interesting feedback

Sometimes, an online survey can serve as a jumping-off point to a deeper conversation. If a survey response has pointed or interesting feedback and it’s not anonymous, speak with that person to dig into their comments further. Not everyone is going to respond thoughtfully to the program surveys, so make the most out of the people who do.

There’s a lot that one-on-one or in-person interviews can capture beyond a survey. Body language, levels of discomfort or enthusiasm, and non-verbal cues are all forms of feedback that these discussions will reveal. Discussions are often much more fruitful than written responses, and ideas can be bounced back and forth. A conversation also allows program managers to get further clarity if some feedback is unclear.

Make program administrators available for feedback

Hosting Office Hours is another way that HR teams can get program feedback outside of surveying. During this time, participating mentors and mentees can join in to talk about their experiences and ideas. Of course, the feasibility of this idea depends on the size of your organization and the scale of the mentorship program.

If it’s not logistically possible for the program administrator to host regular feedback sessions, consider creating a virtual suggestion box, so mentors and mentees can flag issues or offer praise in between surveys. Tools like the Suggestion Ox or Free Suggestion Box can help you set this up.  

Make participant feedback a core part of your employee mentorship program

For any mentorship program to succeed, the mentors’ and mentees’ goals need to be continuously met through their ongoing interactions. To do this seamlessly and successfully, companies should use a mentorship platform that easily allows surveying, data collection and real-time reporting so that they can easily track their program’s successes. Surveying participants creates a continuous loop of improvement that builds a stronger program experience for participating mentors and mentees.

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How to Get Actionable Feedback from your Employee Mentorship Programs

Getting valuable feedback on employee mentorship programs can be a major challenge for the human resources teams that manage these engaging employee development programs. A lack of technology and resources can be barriers to collecting data, in addition to employee comfort levels, as they will need to be candid about their colleagues if they don’t have positive experiences.

Collecting feedback from all mentors and mentees can be a resource intensive task; especially if the mentorship program is manually run. As a solution, technology can seamlessly get input about corporate mentorship programs for HR leaders and program administrators, through a survey software or a mentorship program platform. Mentorship platforms like ours have feedback features embedded within the programming at key points in time, which makes it easy to track and collect data.

Here, we'll go over a multifaceted approach that leverages technology, survey softwares and informal interviewing techniques for HR leaders and program administrators to get structured and standardized data about their employee mentorship programs.

Craft thoughtful mentorship program surveys

Surveys are the simplest way to get standardized feedback from a large audience. When designing surveys, HR teams should start by reviewing the goals and the mission of the mentorship program, so that the obtained information aligns to their program, department and organizational objectives. Creating a proper framework, carefully deciding the types of questions to ask and leveraging technology are strategies that program administrators can use to obtain useful mentorship program data.

Creating a survey framework

First, as a program administrator, you’ll need to decide if the questionnaire is anonymous or not. One effective option is to opt for confidential survey responses rather than anonymous ones which allows participants to answer honestly without fear that colleagues, managers or leaders will see their responses.

The length of the survey is another factor to consider. According to Survey Monkey, the more questions asked, the less time the respondents spend answering each question. They researched 100,000 surveys of 30 questions or less and found that it takes most people five minutes to answer a 10-question survey. Based on this, a 10–15 question survey (depending on how many free-response questions asked) could be best to get meaningful responses that don’t overwhelm the participating mentors and mentees.

Drafting survey questions

Creating thoughtful survey questions is key to getting high quality responses. Qualtrics gives the following tips to craft a survey that provides actionable feedback.

  1. Ask direct questions - Vague ones make it hard for respondents to give clear answers.
  2. Ask one question at a time - Questions should be simple and should narrow down one specific ask.
  3. Provide mutually exclusive choices - Answers shouldn’t overlap. For example, it’s difficult for respondents to know the difference between good or satisfactory.
  4. Limit the number of open text fields - Free-response questions take longer to answer, and people get impatient when there are too many.
  5. Use consistent scale points and structures - For example, if you’re asking scaled questions, always keep the answer between 1 and 5. And make sure you don’t switch the scale throughout the survey.

Also, don’t assume a single response format will work for your entire survey. Survey experts at the Pew Research Center have shown that survey answers can be impacted by the use of open-ended or multiple choice questions. For example, if you’re asking the question “What skills have you learned from your mentor?” and time management, email writing, networking, and customer service are listed as the response options, you may not capture all the potential outcomes, as the choices are too specific. A careful balance of open- and closed-ended questions will provide accurate survey data.

Survey questions can include:

  • Since the program’s start, what have you learned from your mentor or mentee? (open)
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how valuable has the mentorship program been to achieving your professional goals? (closed)
  • What do you hope to get out of the mentor-mentee relationship? (open)
  • How would you improve the mentorship program? (open)
  • Was your mentor/mentee a valuable addition to your network? (closed)

Use technology to obtain your mentorship program data

Comprehensive mentorship platforms will give insight into participant engagement, meeting tracking and outcomes, as well as overall program health surveys and scores. For example, our Ten Thousand Coffees platform collects data at key points (pre, mid and post) during the mentorship program which provides a real-time health score and detailed mentor/mentee statuses. In addition, program managers can survey participants at any point of the program, like after every meeting, or at a set time to do a pulse check. This timely feedback is then reflected into the real-time data dashboard which measures match quality scores, the number of times the matches have met and the quality of their meetings.

Check in regularly (but not too much)

Asking regularly for feedback helps program administrators assess what’s going well and what’s not. The number of check-ins will depend on the length of the mentorship program and how often mentors and mentees meet. It’s best to collect data right after meetings, so it’s fresh in the participants’ minds.

If you’re eliciting the same program information month to month, researchers at the Pew Research Center emphasize it’s important to survey the same questions in the same order to maintain a similar context.

Interview mentors and mentees who give interesting feedback

Sometimes, an online survey can serve as a jumping-off point to a deeper conversation. If a survey response has pointed or interesting feedback and it’s not anonymous, speak with that person to dig into their comments further. Not everyone is going to respond thoughtfully to the program surveys, so make the most out of the people who do.

There’s a lot that one-on-one or in-person interviews can capture beyond a survey. Body language, levels of discomfort or enthusiasm, and non-verbal cues are all forms of feedback that these discussions will reveal. Discussions are often much more fruitful than written responses, and ideas can be bounced back and forth. A conversation also allows program managers to get further clarity if some feedback is unclear.

Make program administrators available for feedback

Hosting Office Hours is another way that HR teams can get program feedback outside of surveying. During this time, participating mentors and mentees can join in to talk about their experiences and ideas. Of course, the feasibility of this idea depends on the size of your organization and the scale of the mentorship program.

If it’s not logistically possible for the program administrator to host regular feedback sessions, consider creating a virtual suggestion box, so mentors and mentees can flag issues or offer praise in between surveys. Tools like the Suggestion Ox or Free Suggestion Box can help you set this up.  

Make participant feedback a core part of your employee mentorship program

For any mentorship program to succeed, the mentors’ and mentees’ goals need to be continuously met through their ongoing interactions. To do this seamlessly and successfully, companies should use a mentorship platform that easily allows surveying, data collection and real-time reporting so that they can easily track their program’s successes. Surveying participants creates a continuous loop of improvement that builds a stronger program experience for participating mentors and mentees.

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