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Maintaining Accountability in Workplace Mentorships

October 12, 2020

Workplace mentoring programs have several benefits for mentors, mentees, and the organization. These include:

  • Reduced turnover
  • Improve employee engagement
  • More positive atmosphere
  • Higher skill base

Unfortunately, recent statistics have shown that there is a high level of disengagement among employees. Gallup numbers saw employee engagement rise to a record level earlier this year, only to drop about a month later. The research organization now estimates that just 36 percent of employees are engaged in their jobs. That leaves 64 percent of employees who are not enthusiastic about their jobs or their employer. This type of attitude can affect productivity and the workplace atmosphere. 

While workplace mentoring programs have been designed to help with these types of challenges, it can only produce results when all the parties are engaged and supportive. This may mean that accountability needs to be managed so it can be maintained throughout the mentorship. The unfortunate reality is that without accountability, a mentoring situation can not be successful and may even fail in the long run. 

Workplace Accountability Challenges

Accountability is not simply trying to catch employees doing the wrong things. Rather, it is giving people a standard to aim for or a common expectation that is based on your organization’s mission and value statements. Most importantly, it should apply to all levels of employees, including leaders and managers. 

Employees should be held accountable at work and in their mentorship. Without some level of employee accountability, there can be a breakdown in the workplace that leads to a lack of motivation and low morale. It could even have some serious long-term implications on the business. Essentially, a lack of accountability can send a message to other employees that lower standards are accepted. 

There are several different ways that a lack of employee accountability can seep into a business. It could be a particular individual that lacks the motivation or focus or it could be a wider problem at the company. Organizations that do not have clear mission statements or goals can lead to a lack of accountability. This happens because no standard has been set. This is why it is essential to define the scope of your organization and your company values. 

The good news is that if your organization has been suffering from low morale, reduced employee engagement, high turnover, and low levels of trust, a workplace mentoring program can help improve your company culture. Workplace mentoring programs empower both the mentor and the mentee. They can lead to higher engagement in the workplace and a sense of value for employees. 

Improving Accountability through Mentoring

Mentoring programs in the workplace can help organizations develop a more accountable and productive atmosphere. Here are some important steps to take to tackle accountability through mentorship. 

  1. Discuss expectations. Even if a mentor or mentee has been involved in mentoring programs in the past, it is still important to discuss their expectations at the beginning of a new mentorship. Talk about what the mentor wants to accomplish in the mentoring program. Mentees may also have some goals that they want to achieve through mentoring, such as succession planning. Being upfront about these expectations can create a level of trust that is key for accountability. 

  1. Set goals. You need to have clear expectations set for both mentor and mentee. Goal-setting is the main activity for mentorships. This helps people know what they are expected to do and sets a deadline. Set SMART goals or ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and timely. By using the SMART goal-setting technique, you’ll be able to set reasonable expectations and deadlines. It is one of the best ways to set your mentorships on the road to success. However, it is okay to modify the goals along the mentoring journey. As things change and life happens, try to stay flexible. 

  1. Communication. Keeping people accountable is often best done through one-on-one meetings. Don’t shy away from tough conversations. If a mentor or mentee has expressed concerns over accountability, it is important to discuss the issue or problem. But, always ensure you do so in a sensitive and respectful way. 

  1. Check-in. Whether you have a mentoring program that is on-site or remote, it is important to regularly check-in with participants. This lets them know that you value mentorship and gives them an opportunity to provide feedback. For mentors, it can be helpful to evaluate the progress that the mentee has made during the mentorship. Ask them how they feel things are going and whether they feel they need more help in a specific area. It may even be productive to review goals and see if they are realistic and attainable. Ask the mentee if they feel they will be able to accomplish them.

  1. Autonomy. Accountability is best accomplished when it is balanced with autonomy. That is, give your mentoring participants the freedom to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. Cultivating a culture that empowers employees to strive higher can have a positive impact on your workplace mentoring program. 

Accountable Mentorships

There are a number of steps that you can take to improve accountability in a mentoring program. From setting early expectations, setting SMART goals, encouraging good communication practices, checking in with mentors and mentors and giving them autonomy in their mentorship you can set the stage for a successful, and productive mentoring experience. 


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