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Successful Mentor Programs

October 28, 2019

Workplace mentoring programs have become commonplace at many top organizations. Research has found that over 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies have such programs already in place. Mentorships have many benefits to participants and the organization as a whole. These include leadership development, improving employee skillset, reducing turnover and enhancing employee engagement. 

To ensure that your workplace mentoring program is successful you need to have clearly defined goals, a practical way to measure those goals, commitment from the participants and ground rules to start. 

Tips for a Successful Mentoring Program

The recipe for a successful mentoring program includes several key elements, which includes:

1. Clearly defined goals - to get the most from a mentoring program, your organization needs to be clear on what they want to accomplish. These should reflect your company’s values and mission. They need to be specific. For example, if your goal is to reduce employee turnover, define what that will look like. That is, do you want to see a 10 percent reduction in employees quitting their jobs? Or do you want new employees to stay at your company for at least two years? The more specific you are about your goals, the easier it will be to measure them and determine success. 

2. Commitment - mentoring programs revolve around relationships and so it is key that participants are committed to the mentoring process. If one of the people involved in the program is not dedicated to giving their best to make the mentoring program work well, it can dampen the spirits of others who are committed to the process. While this includes company leadership and the mentor program manager, it is particularly important that the mentor and mentee be dedicated to the program.  If a mentor or mentee decides that their involvement in the mentorship is not as important as other commitments they have, it can lead them to skip meetings. This will have a negative impact on the success of your workplace mentoring program. One of the most important qualities of a good mentee is commitment to the program.

3. Communication - effective and positive methods of discussion are skills that every employee should have, especially if they are going to be involved in a mentorship program. A mentor needs to be able to offer constructive criticism without being offensive. One the other side, a mentee needs to be able to communicate confidently, especially with those in seniority over them. Some organizations go as far as to offer communication training courses to those preparing to participate in a mentorship program. 

4. Measurement - going back to the goals that you defined at the start of the mentorship program, you will need to determine a way to measure whether the goals have been met or not. For example, if you want to enhance employee engagement you will need to decide what that looks like. One way to see a change in employee engagement is to take a survey before and after they participate in the mentorship. These surveys can show you whether or not an employee’s attitude has changed towards the company. Measuring is one of the most important ways to see if your mentoring program is meeting the goals that it was designed to meet. 

5. Ground rules - structure is essential to help mentorship participants understand what is expected from them. Develop some ground rules that define how often mentors and mentees should meet, how they can define goals and how long the mentorship should last. There should also be directions on where participants can go if they have a problem or a complaint about their experience. 

Starting Your Program

Getting a mentorship program off the ground at your organization can be a challenge. As daunting as it can seem, there are some steps that you can follow to help you develop a mentoring program that works. 

The first step is to have a clearly defined plan for your mentoring program. Define the objectives for your workplace mentorships. Then determine what your key performance indicators will be to measure the program’s success. 

Once you have clearly defined a workplace mentoring program, it is important to get the support of company leadership. This may mean researching and gathering some information about the benefits of a mentoring program so that management can see what is in it for them. If you have the support of your company’s leadership it will be easier to find quality mentors and promote the program around the office. 

Thirdly, create plans to productively promote the mentoring program among employees. You can help develop excitement by holding a kickoff event. Be sure to give employees ample notice of the event so that they can make it. 

Pairing mentors and mentees can often seem like the most difficult part of managing workplace mentoring programs. But, it doesn’t have to be. Mentoring software can help simplify this fourth step to starting a mentorship program. By using algorithms to find a good mentor-mentee match from your applications, you can set your program up for success. 

Finally, gather data that shows your workplace mentoring program is meeting the objectives that were defined at the start of the program. This is why it is important to have key performance indicators. Mentoring software can also assist in gathering this data and produce reports that track the history of your mentoring program. 


Whether you are just starting a workplace mentoring program or are looking at revamping one that has been in your organization for a while, there are some essential elements you will need. These include clearly defined goals for the program, commitment from all the participants, communication skills, ways to measure the program’s goals and some ground rules. By ensuring that these elements are central to your workplace mentoring program, you will be on the road to success. 

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We interviewed and surveyed employees from 50+ leading North American Companies including McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, IBM, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Capital One, Norton Rose Fulbright, Mackenzie Investments. Get the results below.

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