Why Mentoring Programs Make A Difference At Work

angry boss

It is interesting to bring up the topic of mentoring with a lot of the key people in an organisation. I enjoy seeing their reaction or hearing their explanation on what that means and how it works in their organisation. In most cases, the position they take is one that assures me that they have a rock solid mentoring program in place and it is generating great returns. Is it fact or fiction?

When we have a conversation and I make mention of some of the mentoring experiences I have had and ask them how they would deal with those same situations, they seem somewhat at a loss. But what’s more interesting is the look on their face as they realise that these situations are taking place in their organisation and they are unsure of how to deal with them. They could take a stab at it; It might work out OK, but then it could all backfire–and then what?

When I talk to them about mentoring as a strategic approach to recruitment and retention, they seem to get that part.

Or are they just telling me what I want to hear?

In the last two months, we have facilitated two entry-level mentor training courses with awesome feedback from those who attended. Both classes displayed the power that mentoring does have. What was also interesting was that while we may think we have a good mentor program in our organisation, we obviously have some room to improve.

I recently read an article in the May 9, 2011, Globe and Mail written by Harvey Schachter with information that had been provided by Ann Tardy, a management consultant based in San Francisco who has worked on mentoring programs for some years. The article talked about five mistakes that organisations may make with their mentoring programs. I have summarized these five mistakes as follows:

1) No goal for the program:  We should implement a mentor program because everyone else is

2) Mentor programs should be customised to the organisation: One size does not fit all.

3) Break the “babysitting” mentality: Mentoring is intended to help develop the critical thinking skills in the mentee, and is not intended as a means for the mentor to look after the relationship.

4) Mentoring in an organisation can do a lot of good, but only if people know what they are supposed to do: Training of the mentors is important, and I recommend that the mentees receive some training as well.

5) When you have implemented a Mentor Program in your organisation, think of it as a little puppy that you have just brought home. The puppy will require care and feeding–so will your mentor program.

Unleash the “power of mentoring” in your organisation today. Implement a program that is structured and designed to fit your organisation. Provide training to the participants in the program. Establish benchmarks to measure the success of the program. Critique the program annually and make the required changes to make it better. These are some basic steps that will ensure the success of your program and create a mentoring culture in your organisation.