We are often called in for help after a mentoring program has faltered. By then, relationships are either stuck or haven’t got off the ground, and expectations have not been met. Disappointment all round.
Here are the top five mistakes we have observed:
- Poor planning and preparation Well-designed, successful mentoring programs usually involve key stakeholders early and potential problems have been ironed out prior to launch. Roles are clear and everyone involved is well prepared to get started.
- Poor or no training for participants Sadly, a common misconception is that experienced managers should ‘just know’ how to be mentors, and that the recipients of mentoring require no training. Effective programs ensure that expectations are aligned through training, and skill up the participants to get the most from their mentoring relationships.
- Inadequate program support Sometimes a great deal of effort goes into getting the program off the ground but mentors and mentees are then left to work it out for themselves. Most people need reminders of their commitments so don’t forget to cover basic administrative tasks, like inviting participants to program meetings. Make sure they know where to turn for help if needed and provide support for relationships that need a bit of hand-holding to start. Not all mentoring relationships take off from day one.
- No attention paid to the program ending Research suggests that the majority of relationships that are left to fizzle out, without a proper sense of closure, are viewed negatively by both mentor and mentee afterwards (each feels they have done something wrong!)
- Failure to set and measure outcomes Don’t wait to find out by chance that the program you thought was tracking well, is actually off the rails. Be clear about program purpose and desired outcomes, and measure progress several times through the course of the program.