Goal Setting & Measuring the Impact of Mentoring

A well-designed, well-executed and well-managed mentoring program will be very successful and sustainable.

Done well, mentoring programs enjoy high engagement and participation rates, low dropout rates, high satisfaction and goal achievement. Mentors enrol year after year, and mentees return to mentor others.

But, how can we best measure the impact a mentoring program has, and at what levels should we aim and look for impact?

There are various models used by learning experts to evaluate the effectiveness of training. We have adapted a learning impact model, commonly attributed to Roger Kaufman, “Five Levels for Evaluation of Interventions for Human Performance Improvement” 1 .

Art of Mentoring Model of Evaluation of
Mentoring Program Impact

Level 1: Input
  • Evaluation of Mentoring Resources:
    are they available and how good are they?
  • Evaluation of Mentoring Program Resources:
    do the processes work and are they efficient?
Level 2: Acquisition of Learning    
  • Extent of individual Mentee and Mentor
Level 3: Application of Learning                                                                            
  • Did Mentees (and Mentors) apply learning?
    What were the outcomes? e.g. goal
    achievement, achievement of unplanned outcomes
Level 4: Organisational
  • Organisational impact e.g. better engagement,
    retention rates
Level 5: Societal Outcomes
  • Societal contribution of the mentoring program e.g. more women in leadership roles across an industry

Program goals should be set at all five levels and then, progress measured

This model provides an easy framework to assist in setting mentoring program goals at the outset, during the program design phase.

At the very least, we would expect a well-designed mentoring program to identify goals from Levels 1 to 4. Having a goal at Level 5 provides for a highly compelling story for recruitment of mentors and mentees into the program. Mentors, in particular, are strongly persuaded by a higher order reason to contribute their time.

Example Goal Set: Graduate Program

Level 1: Input                                
  • 90% of Mentors and Mentees complete training provided to   them
  • 90% of Mentors and Mentees rate educational materials as     valuable
  • 90%+ consider they were well matched
  • High participant ratings on the delivery of training and the       overall program experience
Level 2: Acquisition of
  • 90%+ of participants say they achieved some of all of their        learning goals e.g. understanding of organisational structure   and functional roles
Level 3: Application of
  • 90%+ of participants say they achieved some or all of the outcomes they were looking for / have been able to settle into        the organisation / perform their new role
Level 4: Organisational
  • Faster induction of new hires – able to perform in role faster     than non-mentored peers
  • Y% lower attrition rate amongst new hires / decrease in turnover in first year
Level 5: Societal
  • X% increase in youth employment

What can mentoring do for my organisation?

Research has reported mentoring can deliver benefits such as employee commitment, motivation and retention, higher morale, better working relationships and better leadership.

In a study into formal mentoring programs in Fortune 500 companies2 , the five most frequently cited impacts of mentoring included:

  • Retention (59 percent)
  • Promotion and advancement (35 percent)
  • Satisfaction (35 percent)
  • Morale (29 percent)
  • Productivity and performance (29 percent).

In an often-cited long-term study3 , Sun Microsystems found 25% of participants in a mentoring program had a salary grade change and mentees were promoted 5 times more often than their unmentored peers. Retention rates amongst mentees (72%) and mentors (69%) was favourably compared to the general retention rate across the organisation of 49%. Sun claims to have made $6.7 million in savings in avoided turnover and replacement costs. They also estimate an ROI of more than 1000% on their investment in mentoring.

We observe that organisations that set strong goals, measure frequently against these goals, and adjust their mentoring programs accordingly, record better results and enjoy greater program impact.

We would like to see more organisations measure ROI for their mentoring program investment. This must go beyond just collecting data from program participants. For example, together with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, we are tracking progress of mentees over the years following their participation in the department’s mentoring program for scientists. This includes collecting retention, career path and other data and comparing with the data for their non-mentored peers. We are already seeing impressive results.


© Melissa Richardson 2020

1 Levels of Evaluation: Beyond Kirkpatrick. By: Kaufman, Roger; Keller, John M. Human Resource Development Quarterly. Winter 94, Vol. 5 Issue 4, p371-380

2 Hegstad, C D & Wentling, R M. (2004) Human Resource Development Quarterly, vol. 15, No. 4

3 Sun Microsystems Study (2009), downloaded from http://spcoast.com/pub/Katy/SunMentoring1996-2009.smli_tr-2009-185.pdf

Man showing lady some notes


A guide to unleashing the hidden value in your organisation through high impact strategic mentoring programs.

Most human beings and organisations have one thing in common – they both want to do better. But it’s hard for one to achieve without the other. When you can harness both you can achieve great things.

Unfortunately, most organisational structures are hierarchical, which may aid efficiency but not necessarily “real” human interaction.

Solving the human equation is the cornerstone of great culture and the larger and more diverse the workforce, the more challenging it becomes, even before we factor in things like location, technology and pay rates.

Well designed and managed mentoring programs can have a dramatic impact on workplace culture and people engagement. A strategic mentoring program transcends hierarchy, creating relationships and interactions to build individual and hence organisational value.

In this guide we present you with proven practical insights on how to design, build, implement and automate a high influence mentoring program and create your own ripple effect.

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the ripple effect