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Overcoming Mentoring Program Challenges

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There are a lot of struggles, barriers, and challenges that come with starting a mentoring program. Not knowing how to overcome these challenges can be detrimental to the success of your mentoring program, and can sometimes result in colossal failure.  Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid pitfalls with your mentoring program.

The first step you need to take in order to overcome mentoring program challenges in your mentoring program is to have a plan. Before you implement a mentoring program, you need to have clearly-defined goals. Mentoring programs are 80% planning and 20% implementation.  A plan should include resources for implementation, addressing questions such as how matching will be done and how mentors and mentees will be recruited and prepared for the engagement.  Software can ease the matching process, but training, screening, and preparing mentors and mentees should also be taken into consideration.

The second step you should take in order to overcome mentoring program challenges is to define specific and relevant measurements of program success. It is important to have a clear picture regarding what success looks like, so you can measure and collect feedback along the way.  These measurements should correlate with your business goals and be easily measured.   

The third step you should take in order to overcome mentoring program challenges is to recruit and screen potential mentor and mentee candidates before starting your program. Don’t assume that all executives want to or have the skills necessary to be good mentors. Mentors in your program must be committed to mentoring partnership and have good communication skills.  Training for both mentors and mentees is critical at this stage.

The fourth step is to create a timeline for the program and communicate the timeline to all parties involved.  Planning an initial launch to selected mentors and then pairing the mentors with the mentees usually occurs in stages.

Finally, once your mentoring program is up and running, having a plan for measuring and collecting data will ensure you are meeting the measurements you identified in step two.

Alison Martin

Written by

Alison Martin is the Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Diverse Talent Strategies, a family of brands offering turn-key solutions for mentoring, women’s leadership initiatives, and recruitment. With roughly 15 years in nonprofit work, Alison has a passion for doing work that makes a difference in the lives of others. After serving as Executive Director at two different national nonprofit organizations, her commitment to her passion for developing female talent led her launch Mentoring Women’s Network. In her role, Alison acts as a liaison to a national committee responsible for the leadership development content for the organization and consults with corporations on the development and strategy aligned with initiatives for emerging female leaders. She is also the author of the book, “Landing on My Feet: Learning to Lead Through Mentoring” and speaks regularly on behalf of the organization

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