The coaching or mentoring program you’ve created is up and running, you’ve evaluated, and you’ve made changes. At this point, you’re probably seeing the successes of the program and would like to help others in the organization achieve those successes. Don’t be afraid to look for ways to expand your coaching or mentoring program. Here are some ways to get more people interested and to expand the reach of your successful program.
First, consider incentive for coaches. If you’ve already implemented incentives for coaches or mentors, look at what incentives you are offering and determine if those are going to be sustainable. If so, offer those incentives to new coaches and mentors in order to get the program into an expansion. If the incentives were experimental, think about expanding them and making them permanent. Under these conditions, think about moving to more valuable incentives. When you find that coaches and mentors are performing well in an incentive environment, this is a sign that you’ve hit the mark. And let’s face it: one of the best ways to get people’s attention these days is to offer value. Another way to expand incentive is to offer “better” incentives for proteges who want to become coaches, or coaches who want to take on additional proteges. There are many ways to get creative with incentive, especially if the program has led to higher productivity or decreased costs.
Another way to expand a successful coaching or mentoring program is to make it formal. You may have been right on target with your informal program, but an expansion in an informal environment could create confusion. Before you expand, take the time to make the program formal by creating training, schedules, selection criteria, and evaluation criteria. This way, as with any major program that is being expanded, you can bring some order to a larger group of people or a wider geographic spread.
Along the lines of formalization, take a look at the target population of your coaching or mentoring program. As we discussed in the beginning, you may have created a program strictly for one area or one group of people within the organization, such as management trainees or the sales department. If the program has had a great deal of success, look for other areas within the organization that could benefit from the program and its benefits. Depending on your organization’s size, you can even make plans to expand to the entire organization. If your program was already rolled to the entire organization, consider how you can give the program a further reach.
Expansion may sometimes be easier said than done, especially if money is involved. But there are ways to expand on an existing budget, especially if that budget is aimed at training and development.
Consider taking some of your T&D budget and allocating it to the coaching or mentoring program. You’ve already seen success and are able to measure that success, so why not take existing dollars and put them into the program. In fact, as the program continues to succeed, you may be able to ask for more money, especially as economic conditions improve. But if the money remains tight, look for training programs that can be cut in favor of the coaching program. If you do this, you may be able to prove that the program is worth a few more dollars, especially because overhead on a coaching or mentoring program tends to be lower than formal training programs.
Finally, don’t be afraid to show your results to decision makers in order to look for ways to expand. If the numbers show success, the organizational decision makers may be more willing to help you expand the program. In fact, those decision makers may be able to give you ideas and further clearance on expansion. Going to the decision makers and stakeholders to ask for expansion is also a great way to get the buy-in of those who may not have given it at the beginning.
Once your coaching or mentoring program has become successful, remember to look for ways to expand it. The benefits will be far-reaching and can change the organization for the better.
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