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Mentorship program mistakes

May 25, 2019

As we’ve developed our mentorship products we’ve had the opportunity to engage with many employees on their experience with mentorship at their employer. What we’ve found is that many employers are falling short of what their employees expect.In this post I wanted to highlight just three of the mentorship program mistakes we’ve heard of so that you can avoid making the same ones.

Mistake #1 HR not following-up

Perpetrator: Top 5 Canadian bankMistake: while we’ve heard from many that their HR department never follows-up it’s often not a problem if the mentorship pairing goes smoothly. However, with this employer we’ve heard from two separate employees that upon joining they were assigned mentors by HR. Unfortunately, neither the mentor nor the mentee reached out to the other, and HR never followed-up to see how the pairing was going. Both mentees never got the mentorship they wanted and left the firm within one year.Solution: There’s a few take-aways here for each of the parties. For HR, follow-up! At the very least make it clear to either the mentor or mentee who is responsible to initiate the pairing.For the mentees and mentors, don’t wait for the other to send the first message, reach out and get your first session on the calendar.

Mistake #2 not checking that assigned mentors are still at the company

Perpetrator: Top 3 global strategy consulting firmMistake: the large consulting firms are known to have strong mentorship cultures, however this doesn’t make them immune to mentorship program fails. In this story an incoming employee was paired with a buddy. Unfortunately, for this incoming employee his buddy had already quit by the time he joined. Moreover, HR never checked that their buddy pairings were still valid when the employee started, nor did they follow-up.Solution: an employer’s workforce is constantly in motion. You cannot make mentorship pairings three months in advance and expect them to still be valid at the program initiation. As such, make sure to sense check your pairings and to follow-up with the mentees.

Mistake #3 not including “laterals” in your mentorship program

Perpetrator: American elite boutique investment bankMistake: for many large companies it is common to have starting cohorts for young employees, often linked to university graduation. Many employers are quite structured in how they onboard this class. Unfortunately, this same structure doesn’t apply to new employees starting after one of these starting cohorts. In this case a young banker “lateralled” only 6 months after the normal starting class. To her misfortune, she was not assigned a mentor like most of her colleagues had been.Solution: lateralling into an existing cohort and playing catch-up is already hard enough for a new employee. Don’t make it harder and afford the new employee access to the same programs the rest of their cohort gets.


These were just three of the many mentorship program mistakes we’ve seen, unfortunately there are many more which I hope to cover in later posts.If you’re in HR and tasked with creating a mentorship program or oversee an existing one your program doesn’t have to make these same mistakes. We know it can be tough to implement and administer a mentorship program, especially if you’re managing it manually.Good news, our end-to-end AI powered mentorship platform takes care of all of this for you.

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