There’s a lot to consider when implementing an effective formalized mentoring program for your company, university, association, or nonprofit organization. A poorly constructed program will often fail due to lack of planning and lack of bandwidth for those responsible for implementing the program. We often see programs start out with the best of intentions, only to fail due to lack of planning and resources.
Planning your mentoring program is perhaps the most important component. Determine your audience, your goals, the timeline, expectations of participants, and how to keep participants engaged and accountable throughout the program. This plan should also identify what success looks like and what you’re hoping to accomplish.
Participant training is also critical. A good training plan should help mentors and mentees understand what’s expected and how they should serve effectively in their respective roles, including how to approach the conversation, keep the relationship on track, and avoid common mentoring pitfalls.
Matching mentors and mentees is another critical piece to implementing a quality mentoring program. Good software can help, but many programs are structured to where mentors and mentees are manually matched. Either way, criteria for determining potential matches should take the mentees developmental needs into consideration and match them with a mentor who demonstrates competency and experience in the area the mentee is working on.
Tracking outcomes is another area where a good software program can assist with determining how often mentors and mentees meet and what outcomes have occurred. It can begin to collect feedback from the program’s participants. Without some sort of tracking methodology, it’s difficult to know if the program is working and if participants have followed-through on their respective responsibilities.
Finally, evaluating your program’s effectiveness is an important component of an effective mentoring program. Each client is different and there’s no one-size fits-all approach to program evaluation. By determining the end goals up front, you can construct an evaluation plan against those goals to determine if your mentoring program is accomplishing what you had hoped for and are following the methodology for collecting data. Those measures will also signify any course corrections that may be necessary along the way to continue to build an impactful program.