Do you ever wonder what makes a good professional mentoring program? There are important components that should be part of any successful program.
When people ask me to review existing corporate mentoring programs, I ask the following questions:
1. Do you provide clear areas of focus?
You should have specific overall competencies, like leadership or management or sales, but you should further define these competencies so mentorees know precisely what they need to work on (e.g. feeling more confident during sales calls, presentations, and so forth). This makes the matching better and enhances the probability of the relationship being successful. (Here are seven habits of highly successful mentors and mentorees.)
2. Do you offer clear guidelines regarding matching?
Is the process for participation and matching transparent so that mentorees and mentors feel that each person is given a fair shot at a potential match? Sample guidelines for mentorees might include new employees or an employee with one year of company experience. Do the same for mentors. How do you select them? Do mentors volunteer or do people nominate them (or both)?
3. Do you provide training?
Mentoring is often confused with coaching, so it is critical that all participants understand the difference. Also, you should not only train mentors, but also the mentorees so that they are both on the same proverbial page regarding the mentoring relationship. (We offer cost-effective online training for mentors and mentorees here.)
4. Do you have a Mentoring Program Manager (MPM)?
Pairs are more likely to succeed if they know there is a resource they can go to for assistance on any issue. This is not a full-time job but an addition to whatever else that person may be doing. However, the mentoring program manager should be someone who is trusted in the organization and has the authority to intervene when necessary even to the point of disengaging a pair if they are not meeting guidelines.
5. Do you hold quarterly "check-in" meetings?
Bringing mentors together for an hour either face-to-face or via other electronic methods (and doing the same separately with mentorees) provides an opportunity for peers to learn about each other's experience and to share common challenges and solutions. It is also an opportunity for the MPM to remind participants of the guidelines and discuss the phases of mentoring that pairs will experience moving forward.
6. What kind of evaluation do you perform at the end of the program?
Many ask if mentorees accomplished their goals, but that's only a part of the success. The MPM should also explore the quality of the experience and the relationship because that's really what mentoring is all about. In many cases, the anecdotal reports will indicate a life changing experience and a closeness between both partners that will continue after the program. Mentoring keeps on delivering long after the formal program has ended. Here's an article we wrote on how to properly wrap up a mentoring relationship.
Do you need feedback on your current mentoring program? We can help. Contact us now.