Tuesday, 21 April 2015

#TuesdayTRIOS - How To Make Your Mentoring Programme Successful By Asking 3 Key Questions

Mentoring is now an established learning and development tool used by organisations and individuals alike as a key component of talent management, performance management, on the job learning and change management to mention but a few reasons.
In many cases mentoring delivers what other more common interventions – such as training – cannot hope to achieve, but especially ownership and accountability – a key factor in organisational success!

However, mentoring is less intuitive than it is generally acknowledged when it comes to its implementation and even more, when it comes to keeping momentum in an established programme. That is why many mentoring programmes quickly fizzle out or disappoint the parties involved. 

The following three questions are not the only ones that an organisation should be investigating, but attempting to answer them will undoubtedly help in setting you and your organisation up on the pathway to success.          

#1 – Is the organisation ready for mentoring?

Let’s face it – mentoring is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ and there will be organisations that are not mentoring-ready. Common reasons for this are:     

Ø  Internal communication channels are constrained 
Ø  Transparency, openness and trust are not practiced values
Ø  There are limited opportunities to nurture and develop employees
Ø  Education and learning is not core to the organisation.
As you take a long, hard look at your organisation you may find that enough of the above exists to make mentoring successful. This is also likely to happen when the organisation practices talent management and succession planning, has clear learning and development policy and values diversity. On the other hand it is possible that mentoring may have to wait a bit, until one or more of these areas are fully addressed.

#2 – What is the organisation hoping to achieve through mentoring and how?

As mentioned, mentoring programmes can be helpful in a variety of contexts but are no panacea. Thus, it is critical to think through which outcomes the organisation is hoping to achieve in the short, medium, and long term. Are you looking to mentor for performance? Are you providing mentoring to support an existing leadership programme? Are you perhaps hoping to achieve greater employee engagement? Whatever the reason, it will be good to thoroughly investigate your objectives in order to fully understand how mentoring will contribute to achieving the outcomes.   
Next is the format, meaning how mentoring will actually take place. Will it be one to one or group? Formal or informal? Structure or unstructured?   There are almost as many ways as there are organisations and no one-size-fit- all answer. So it may be worthwhile piloting a couple of different schemes to evaluate what works best for your purpose.

#3 What resources – including budget - does the organisation need to make available?

Any kind of mentoring programme will require support in the form of coordination, recruitment of mentors and mentees, training of mentors and mentees, communication/PR/Events, possibly an ambassador programme and so on. Even the most basic and informal mentoring programme will require some administrative support, as well as monitoring and review.
It is important not to underestimate these costs as without a budget - however small – the programme may never go further than the planning stage. A mentoring programme does not need to cost a lot, but it would be wrong to assume that it won’t cost the organisation anything, if only in terms of time and internal resources. It is also important to acknowledge that not all expertise may be available in-house and that taking short-cuts (such as not training mentors and mentees or not monitoring activities) will only increase the risk of not achieving the desirable outcomes.

In summary, any organisation looking at initiating a mentoring programme should ensure that context, purpose and resources are clearly aligned to support its successful implementation.    

Do you need any help with your mentoring programme? Feel free to contact me for an informal chat! 

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