Business Mentoring Matters

Turn to Us for FREE Mentoring Advice

Posted on Wed, Nov, 16, 2016

mentoring_adviceDid you know we offer free one-hour consultations? No muss, no fuss, no obligation to buy from us—now or ever.

Why do we offer free mentoring advice? Simple. We want to see companies succeed with their mentoring programs. If we increase the number of successful mentoring programs, we’ll have happier employees, and the world could always use more of them, right?

Of course, offering this free consultation isn’t completely altruistic on our part. When you spend an hour with me on the phone, it’s my hope you’ll get a sense of what Management Mentors can bring to the table. But if that’s where the conversation ends, I’m OK with that.

So what happens during a consultation? Here’s a description of one I recently completed. I talked to two program managers at a decent-sized company. This particular company has a mentoring program, but the results have been poor.

After about 15 minutes of sharing and my asking questions, I was able to identify four main issues, which I’m listing below along with my recommended solutions:

  1. Mentorees weren’t matched with the right mentors. In this company, mentorees were being mentored by their boss’s boss. In a formal mentoring program, mentorees should never be paired with someone they report to, either directly or indirectly. Managers can certainly mentor their employees informally, but creating a dynamic where the manager mentors his or her employee will cause unnecessary pressure and stress—on both sides.

In order for mentorees to grow and transform, they need to be able to talk about all the issues they face in the workplace, and that most definitely would include interactions with managers and the manager’s manager.

  • Solution: Recruit a larger pool of mentors, one that encompasses people from various departments. Never match mentorees with a line manager.
  1. Mentors lacked commitment. The program managers mentioned that the mentors weren’t committed to the program and often cited scheduling as an obstacle.
  • Solution: When the company recruits mentors, it needs to do a better job of demonstrating to mentors what’s in it for them. Holding information sessions with a successful mentor to field questions is one strategy, but there are plenty of others. The company should also be clear about the time commitment up front. No one wants to waste time, and a formal mentoring program needn’t take a huge time investment on the mentor’s part (after all, the mentoree will be doing the heavy lifting). Three to four hours per month is the typical time commitment, and when stated that clearly, it suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
  1. The training didn’t cross the finish line. Although the company trained mentors and mentorees separately in three hours, they did not bring the pairs together to facilitate their first meeting. This first meeting is critical since it can help everyone bond and overcome jitters, not to mention it provides an opportunity for the mentorees to talk about what they want to work on moving forward.
  • Solution: This is an easy fix. Simply add the “meet and greet” step at the end of the formal training. The mentoring program manager can facilitate this.
  1. Expectations weren’t articulated. The program had program managers, but, at no point, did anyone express expectations regarding how mentors/mentorees should report to the MPMs and vice versa.
  • Solution: When training mentors and mentorees, I always recommend explaining who the program manager is, why the role exists, and how the MPM supports the pairs. I also recommend telling mentors and mentorees that, in addition to committing to each other, they must also commit to responding to the program manager’s requests, emails, and phone calls. On the other side, MPMs must be confident in their roles and responsibilities. I recommend that all mentoring program managers go through our online certification.

At the end of our hour consultation, the company program managers had a clear sense of the issues and strategies for addressing them. If they’d tried figuring out these issues on their own, they would have likely wasted countless hours (and probably not have gotten very far since they were too close to it).

So if you have a concern about your mentoring program or just want the advice of a mentoring expert, take us up on our free one-hour consultation.

pilot mentoring program

Tags: Mentoring Resources