Five Things You Can Do To Strengthen Your Professional Mentoring Program

mentor-corkboard1[su_dropcap style=”flat”]IN[/su_dropcap] the beginning you had such high expectations for your corporate mentoring program. But the results may not be all that you had hoped for. Both the mentors and mentees may be struggling to find time to meet. Participation could be dwindling. And Management may be wondering why you started this program in the first place. Here are five tings that will strengthen your program and empower your mentoring partners.

  1. Question
  2. Perform A Needs Assessment
  3. Teach Mentoring/Communication Skills
  4. Match Your Mentoring Partners Well
  5. Support Your People & Your Program

1. Question

Ask and answer questions that will help you think through what happened and what could be possible. Start at the beginning.

  • Why did you believe you needed a mentoring program?
  • What specific goals were you trying to achieve?
  • What tangible, measurable results would mean success?
  • If those results were achieved, what difference would they make to program participants and your organization?

As you begin to explore what you expected of your mentoring program, you might discover any number of things. For example, the program may have been introduced without a set of specific metrics that would allow you to distinguish and measure your success. Mentoring has become a popular buzzword – if everyone’s doing it, we should too.

Perhaps your mentoring program was launched as a way of addressing diversity issues, or a lack of succession planning – but with no path to advancement for either mentors or mentees. There may have been a staffing, employee engagement or training problem that you thought mentoring could fix; but there wasn’t sufficient analysis of the symptoms and causes of the problem before you began. These are common problems that many corporate mentoring programs face. They can be turned around. Once you have identified the nature of the problem.

2. Perform a needs assessment

Whether you are planning a new mentoring program from the ground up, or if you’ve been asked to re-launch a program that has failed, you will learn what people at all levels of your organization want and expect. You will be able to get very clear about why mentoring is needed and develop specific objectives for your program. These findings will be the foundation for your success.

  1. Teach Mentoring/Communication Skills

Just because someone is an expert in their field, doesn’t mean they know how to cultivate that expertise in another – or that they will want to. Mentees eager to advance their careers need to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from their mentors. They need to know how to take coaching and how to be an active mentoring partner.

The mentorship skills both mentors and mentees need to succeed can be learned. The added bonus is that those skills apply across the board to make them more effective with everyone: colleagues, supervisors, direct reports, and customers.

  1. Match Your Mentoring Partners Well

Design a matching system for your program that takes into consideration your mentoring partners’ career goals, career development needs, learning, leading and communication styles; and that is consistent with your program goals.

  1. Support Your People & Your Program

Create a support system that helps your mentoring partners get a strong start, smooth the rough patches, holds them accountable and monitors the metrics.

Yes, these are all highly capable adults, but things can get off track at any time. Your mentoring partners will need someone they can turn to before things get so bad they stop working together. Perhaps after a few weeks, they discover they are not the right matches for each other, or one partner keeps cancelling their meetings and not rescheduling in a timely manner. Even if they don’t have a problem they can’t solve on their own, having someone check in to see how they are doing periodically can make a huge difference in their ability to work together effectively.

You can do this yourself, but you don’t have to. Odyssey Mentoring & Leadership can work with you to assess your needs and design your program. We can provide the mentorship skills training and help you keep you program on track as you go.


Susan Bender Phelps
Susan Bender Phelps
SUSAN Bender Phelps is a corporate trainer, speaker and author. As founder and lead trainer of Odyssey Mentoring & Leadership, she helps clients create a culture of learning and support that allows their people to deliver breakthrough results time after time. Susan has 30+ years of experience working with leaders at all levels of organizations in many industries, including federal, state and local government, colleges, universities, for-profit and not-for-profit. Industries include healthcare, parks and recreation, advertising, accounting, scientists, physicists, architects, consulting engineers, construction, unions and clergy. Susan speaks nationally on mentorship, leadership and communication. She is the author of Aspire Higher, a collection of true success stories of career and business mentoring. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a master’s in Management & Organizational Leadership. She is a certified SCUBA diver and loves to travel the world.

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