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Setting up a Successful Mentoring Programme

Creating a successful mentoring programme is a powerful and cost-effective way to accomplish developmental strategies. Many organisations develop mentoring programmes as part of their overall professional development plan. Although there are many mentoring programmes, not all of them are successful.

Successful mentoring programmes must have a well-defined mentoring relationship, qualified mentors, and well-matched mentors and mentees. To begin a mentoring programme, you first need to determine the resources available to the programme and develop its structure.

The Factors of a Successful Mentoring Programme

Three main factors that make a mentoring programme successful:

  1. Well-designed infrastructure
  2. Definite time frame
  3. Short and long-term goals

1) Infrastructure

A well-designed infrastructure is very important to a successful mentoring programme.  Without it, neither mentors nor mentees will have a clear idea of the process to follow during mentoring.

2) Time frame

It is also important to have a definite time frame for participation in the programme. Having a time limit underscores the goal-oriented nature of the relationship.  It also keeps the mentee from becoming too dependent, limits burnout of mentors, and sustains the interest of all those involved.  Most successful programmes are limited to one year or two at the very most.

3) Setting goals

Having short and long term goals is essential for a successful mentoring programme.  Short-term goals help meet the day-on-day demands of the programme, such as assessing a mentee’s strengths and weaknesses or establishing a successful match of mentor and mentee. They also make it possible to measure early and immediate successes and failures. Long-term goals establish the purpose of the programme, the roles of the participants, and the ultimate measures of the programme’s success. The answers to the following questions can help you determine the goals for a mentoring programme:

  • What is the primary purpose of the mentoring programme?
  • What does my organisation need from the mentoring programme?
  • What do I expect the programme to achieve in its first few years of operation?
  • What do I expect the programme to achieve over time?
  • Are there other programmes in my organisation that are achieving desirable results?
  • What goals should mentors have?
  • What goals should mentees have?
  • How should I measure the short-term effectiveness of the programme?
  • How should I measure the long-term effectiveness of the programme?
  • Who should determine whether goals are met?

Developing Mentoring Programmes

To develop a mentoring programme, you first need to know the basic elements that comprise it.  Depending on the scope of the programme, it is often helpful to designate a programme coordinator.  When the programme has been running for a while, you will need to evaluate the extent to which it is accomplishing its goals.  All mentoring programmes have the following basic elements:

  • Mentor recruitment
  • Mentee selection
  • Internal marketing
  • Resource availability
  • Programme effectiveness
  • Infrastructure support

Steps for developing a mentoring programme

You can follow these six steps to develop a mentoring programme:

  1. Establish goals and objectives
  2. Obtain sponsorship and approval
  3. Develop support processes
  4. Design mentor training
  5. Determine evaluation measures
  6. Evaluate the programme design

1)Establishing goals and objectives
Remember that the goals of your mentoring programme should complement those of existing professional development programmes.  Given that, establish specific objectives for the programme.  In addition, calculate the budget and project any necessary resources.

2)Obtaining sponsorship and approval
Explain to senior management how mentoring can be used to implement organisational strategies, such as employee retention.  Be sure to explain the goals and objectives of your programme in these terms.
In addition, address any senior management concerns, such as the possibility of employees leaving the organisation after being prepared to assume a challenging role.  Senior management might also be concerned about the time demands on participants.
Suggest starting a pilot programme to demonstrate how the programme will work.  You will need senior management to buy-in for the programme to have any real chance of success.

3)Developing support processes
Determine processes and procedures to meet the demands of each of the six elements of a mentoring programme.  Available resources and budget will play a critical role in this step.

4)Designing mentor training
Mentor training should include mentee goals and information about the roles mentors will play.  It should also provide an overview of effective mentoring techniques, such as working effectively with different communication styles and providing constructive feedback.

5)Determining evaluation measures
Identify measures through which you will assess the programme.  As in any business programme, you need to evaluate the Return on Investment (ROI), which means calculating the value of the programme in relation to the time and resources spent.
Measuring the performance of a programme gives you concrete evidence of its benefits.  This can be a big help in obtaining buy-in from senior management.

6)Evaluating the programme design
The goal here is to determine whether you have overlooked details that could improve the programme.  Were the recruitment procedures for mentors adequate?  Was there a lack of policies to ensure confidentiality between participants?

Evaluating the Overall Mentoring Programme

Evaluating the success of your mentoring programme can help you sustain the programme and expand its capabilities, budget, and services.  Here are three guidelines for evaluating a mentoring programme:

  • Determine whether the programme meets expected outcomes
  • Determine whether the programme meets the participant’s expectations and goals
  • Obtain feedback from participants

Meeting expected outcomes
Ask organisational sponsors whether their expectations were met.  Another way to determine whether the programme meets expected outcomes is to review annual goals, such as the number of participants, cost, and resources.

Meeting participant’s expectations and goals
When a mentee finishes the programme, you should interview them and the mentor to find out whether they achieved their goals.  Ask whether they perceive their participation as beneficial, having them provide specific reasons.

Obtaining feedback
Another way to evaluate your programme is to conduct surveys of participants.  Ask them about the key elements of the programme, such as the matching and selection process, the eligibility requirements, and the effectiveness of the mentoring process.  You can also invite suggestions for improvement.  You can conduct such surveys by mail, e-mail, telephone, focus group, or any other method convenient to the participants.

 

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