The 5 Pillars of Successful Mentoring
Mentoring is one of many options available for fostering commercial and cultural growth.
Compared to consulting, training, or coaching initiatives, mentoring directly taps into and inspires the sharing and further development of, relevant experience and expertise already existing within the organisation.
Improved retention, employee satisfaction, interpersonal skills, transfer of knowledge, inter-divisional communications, and many other benefits are being consistently reported by organisations and industries investing in mentoring programs.
AltusQ has been designing and implementing successful enterprise and industry mentoring programs for over 17 years.
Over this time we have come to see the following 5 pillars as being at the core of any program that achieves or exceeds the desired outcomes.
Pillar 1. The program is championed by leaders
Successful mentoring programs are championed ‘from the top’.
In these programs, the CEO, their executive teams, and those around them fully endorse and embrace mentoring.
They have mentors and they mentor others. In some cases even the Board members are mentors and are mentored.
They believe that mentoring is a personal and professional development lever.
Champions fulfil a vital role in any enterprise mentoring program, lending their weight to:
- Position the program as a priority. As recipients of mentoring guidance, they know the benefits and are willing to share this knowledge with their colleagues.
- Legitimise the program. As senior executives, they will lend the program a sense of respect and ‘gravitas.’ Their role is to send a clear message that the organisation takes its commitment to building capability, and engaging its employees seriously.
- Be available for the key milestone events in the program such as the launch, training and regular mentor and mentee meetings. They are vocal in broadcasting the return on investment from the program.
Pillar 2. The program is strategically planned
Successful enterprise mentoring programs are not just good initiatives by chance.
They are planned-out projects with specific and measurable outcomes.
The program needs a robust planning process to ensure that the energy and effort is maintained year-on-year rather than dwindling to nothing within six months.
The planning must take into consideration the seamless running of the program across the organisation.
A planned-out program provides a point of control from which key outcomes can be measured, and tactical changes can be managed.
Pillar 3. The program is measured and defined
What are the ‘measures that matter’ for the organisation? Are the outcomes clearly articulated so that the full return on investment (ROI) can be measured and communicated across the organisation?
Some of the measures will be empirical and calculable (eg. employee engagement levels, retention rates etc), while some measures will be anecdotal in nature.
Having a system or process to capture and report on these measures helps to refine the process with every new intake of participants.
It also allows key success factors to be regularly reviewed.
Pillar 4. Participants are trained
A downfall for many-a-doomed mentoring program is the notion that all that is required is to pair up a mentor with a mentee, and they’ll do the rest.
The alternative approach – and a factor of successful programs – lies in providing introductory and ongoing skills development for both mentors and mentees.
Properly training the participants provides, among other things:
- A message of commitment
- Consistency of approach
- Quality of delivery
- Enhanced relational capability
- Clear expectations.
Pillar 5. The program is supported by systems and processes
Many organisations with an HR Department have frameworks, tools and processes to capture and support the developmental needs of employees.
These tools need to be leveraged within the mentoring program to avoid isolation of this endeavour and to enable efficient processing of candidates and deployment of the program.
The appropriate policies, procedures and tools help to reduce the time and cost of the program and enhance the overall experience of mentors and mentees whilst on the program.
In addition, having the right support systems ensures the quality of delivery.
Systems are particularly beneficial for supporting the following processes:
- Internal marketing and promotion
- Monitoring accountability and evaluation measures
- Internal social networking and relationship management
- Real-time feedback processes
- Codes of conduct, agreements and escalation procedures.
Our QMentor Discussion Paper is a more detailed report that provides international and local perspectives on successful mentoring programs.
Or, if you would like to speak with one of our qualified coaches for the best steps to design and implementing a program, please make contact with us here.
Best wishes for growing successful mentoring programs!