If a company commits to a mentoring program but doesn't follow best practices, the mentoring program will be ineffective. Time, effort and money will be lost.
The basic principles or best practices that derail a mentoring program are as follows:
1. Lack of focus and no link to an organization's goals. For example, is mentoring tied to succession planning, diversity, retention, etc?
2. Lack of objective criteria for who should or should not be a mentor or mentoree.
3. Matching is done without using criteria that lead to effective matching: i.e. competencies needing to be developed and personal compatibility of the individuals.
4. No training is provided to either mentor or mentoree.
5. Training is only provided to the mentor.
6. Lack of guidelines on how often to meet and for how long as well as guidance on the ground rules of the relationship i.e. how we communicate, how we resolve issues, how we define confidentiality.
7. No mentoring program manager to serve as a resource and support to the pairs. This is critical and does not require a full time person. A well managed program, particularly if it uses an online mentoring system, will reduce the amount of time a program manager needs to invest.
Having been in the mentoring business for 25 years, I can generally spot fairly quickly why a program is not working using the above seven points. Attending to all seven will ensure that your program is based upon mentoring best practices and has a high possibility of success.