Key Strategies to a Successful Mentor Program

Skill transfer and providing professional development is needed more now than ever before as organization struggle with doing more with less. Mentor programs have seen a sharp increase since the economic crisis. This is mainly because they have proven to be successful and can be conducted with limited budgets. However, there are some common mistakes you should be aware of:

  • Forcing Relationships
  • Doing too much too soon
  • The Mentor and the organization provide superficial support 

Selecting the mentor and protégé relationships can be detrimental to the success of the mission. The thing to remember is that this is a relationship that should be directed by the participants. Providing a demanding structure that focuses more on the reporting than the quality of the relationship, defeats the purpose. The real work should be in the protégé development and not maintaining the program.  Lastly, having a mentor that likes being called a mentor and not willing to put in the work is not a good match. The same goes to organizations that are not supporting, encouraging, and promoting the program. To overcome these mistakes, the program manager or overseer should place four key strategies into the program. 

Success Strategies:

  1. Allow a formal but informal structured program. There are three components of the program that can be less formal. The first is allowing the protégé to select their mentor. Secondly, allow them to meet as when, where, and how often they deem necessary. And thirdly, do not limit the activities they participate in to develop skills.
  2. Obtain an Executive Champion. Provide the program support and a sponsor outside of human resources. It is key this person brings energy to the program. 
  3. Hold the mentor accountable. Everyone needs to have a stake in the game. Including the role of mentor in their performance evaluation increases the accountability and probability of success. 
  4. Dedicate the resources and time. Create and get approved a budget to support the program. This additional level of commitment ensures the participants are provided the tools necessary to be successful. Secondly, allow time for the program that becomes a priority throughout the organization.   

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