Is Your Mentoring Strategy Working?

I got this article in a newsletter, and had to bring it on my blog.

Mentoring aims to deliver strategic value for the organisation as well as personal benefits for individuals. How can you ensure that your mentoring strategy achieves these outcomes?

The critical first step is to clarify the strategic purpose of mentoring – why is mentoring important? Without clear, and meaningful goals, you may find it hard to gain support for mentoring, difficult to promote the value of mentoring and challenging to make it a priority for people.

To ensure your mentoring strategy works you have to answer the question «why mentoring?» First, you need to uncover the needs, wants and issues that mentoring will address from the perspective of the organisation and the people you want involved. Then, you can plan your mentoring strategy to deliver specific outcomes; and finally, you’ll be able to communicate the reasons for mentoring in a language that make sense to each group of stakeholders.

What Does The Organisation Need?

Most often, mentoring is used by organisations striving for:

  • Employee engagement – to attract, retain and develop people for increased productivity;
  • Knowledge management/skill building – to prevent the loss of both tacit and implicit information and develop skills, for improved capability; or
  • Culture change to influence behaviour based on values, assumptions, and common practice, for enhanced organisational performance.

You’ll need to find out exactly what the pressing needs are and be able to clearly show the impact mentoring could make. This might mean presenting a business case and/or linking to the organisational mission and values.

Why Should People Prioritise Mentoring?

You may be targeting a specific group with your mentoring strategy such as: graduates, women, emerging leaders, innovators, young professionals or indigenous people, however you need people who are not directly involved, as well as those who are, to prioritise mentoring. If they don’t it may be derailed by obstruction, competing demands or lack of support.

This is a time for two-way, rather than one-way communication. We have to get out there and listen. We can’t simply impose mentoring on people because we think it’s a good idea. They won’t buy it unless there is a personal reason that overrides other priorities. So, you will have to discover the needs, concerns and issues of the people as well as the organisation.

Develop The Strategy – Design The Program

The bottom line is that you have to know specifically, what you want your mentoring strategy to do before you can figure out how you will know that it is working. This is the foundation for designing mentoring programs. Do this to ensure that your mentoring works.

From Ann Rolfe