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ATD Blog

Getting the Most Out of Digital Learning With Mentors

Thursday, October 8, 2020

While digital learning modalities like e-learning can be effective on their own, multimodal strategies have a greater impact on learning outcomes. While this is true for several modalities, some are more effective than others. Mentoring, for example, has been shown to significantly increase employee engagement, particularly when paired with formal digital learning. By aligning a structured mentoring program within your learning ecosystem, any organizational transformation will be much easier to implement.

Best Practices in Mentoring

Though mentoring is a longstanding practice, blended learning and hybrid learning approaches are more recent additions to the corporate learning landscape. Aligning these modalities can be a challenge, so let's review a few best practices for incorporating mentoring into your multimodal learning design.

Create a recurring schedule for one-on-one discussions. Regardless of the content, consistency is key. However, it helps to align the goals of the mentoring sessions with the learner’s curriculum. These meetings should be structured, following a well-defined learning path while also allowing for an individualized focus based on the on-the-job challenges the mentee will likely face.

Training Technology
Learning portals and other types of training technology are instrumental for tracking learning. However, they also can be used to support mentoring. Beyond using a learning portal as a location for mentoring assets (such as facilitator guides and planners), they can also help to track informal learning events through descriptive “learning journal” entries.


With corporate training moving to digital learning, having an online collaboration tool will be vital to mentoring as well. Consider whether virtual mentoring is practical with your current training technology. Project management platforms or video conferencing software enable meetings, learning task assignments, and document sharing.

Capturing Data
Surveys and feedback are great ways to gather information about the learning experience, including the activities around mentoring. This data can be vital to direct the development of the mentoring program, whether by shaping the use of assets or pointing to soft-skills that need improvement.


Mentor Matching
When selecting candidates for mentors, balance characteristics like charisma and peer influence with efficacy and experience. Personality dynamics will play a part in the mentoring relationship, but workplace performance is just as important. Some programs use mentor matching platforms to align mentor experience with mentee development goals. Mentee selection can also be a challenge. There are high-performing employees that would likely show tremendous growth through mentoring aimed at promoting leadership abilities. On the other hand, poorly performing employees will require support to reach the key competencies needed to be successful in their roles. Your mentee enrollment will have to balance this dichotomy based upon your organizational goals.


Mentoring programs have been shown to have dramatic effects on the performance, loyalty, and employee contentment. Be sure to continue the practice, even as learning shifts toward a digital environment. Making use of common training technology, paired with best practices in performance consulting and design strategy, will make the difference for your learners and your organization.

About the Author

Richard Harmon has worked in the employee development industry for over 25 years. He has consulted with fortune 500 companies as an instructional designer and project manager, but also brings experience from the financial sector as an investment advisor. With a graduate degree in instructional technology, Richard brings the breadth and depth of experience and expertise needed to transform organizations by aligning learning solutions with business needs.

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