Business Mentoring Matters

When Mentorship Programs Fail Due to Poor Design

Posted on Wed, Oct, 22, 2014

mentorship programI am frequently asked, “What are the most common reasons mentorship programs fail?” There are four main reasons mentorship programs fail:

  1. Design
  2. Matching
  3. Training
  4. Support

This is the first in a series of four blog posts.

In this post, we will focus on design as a common reason mentorship programs fail.

We know from research and from the experience of people who have implemented mentoring programs that there’s a process of best practices that should be followed when designing a mentoring program to assure that the program will work effectively. I recently spoke to a prospective client who told me she spent about one year trying to design her program. Actually, designing a mentoring program should not take that much time. 

  • A good design will have a specific focus on the mentoring relationship—we call these competencies or focus areas. This is to ensure that pairs will know what their task is when they meet.
  • A good design will have a well-defined matching process. For example, who can be in the system, how do they get in the system, how are they matched?
  • A good design will have a training component for both mentors and mentorees in understanding how to create an effective mentoring relationship. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen over the years is for companies to train mentors, but not mentorees—which means they are not on the same page the first time they meet.
  • A good design will have guidelines that set some boundaries between a mentor, a mentoree, the mentoree’s immediate boss and the program manager.
  • A good design will have accountability measures throughout the program such as monthly checkpoints.

In summary, if you have a mentoring program, ask yourself whether you meet the above criteria.  If not, you may want to take advantage of our FREE mentoring best practices presentation.

In our next blog, we will cover the second topic that leads to failed mentorship programs: the matching process.

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Tags: Mentoring Programs