How to Prevent Unrealistic Expectations of Mentoring Part 3 Design

In Part 1: Start With Why, I wrote about discussing the strategic direction for mentoring with your senior decision-makers. Part 2 Needs Analysis and Consultation focused on understanding what a particular group really need from mentoring in order to achieve the outcomes you want.


Now you are ready to design a mentoring program brings together the strategic direction, needs analysis and consultation and will deliver specified outcomes within the budget and resources allocated.


You can’t simply introduce mentors to mentees and call that a program. A mentoring program worth the name maintains engagement. It is planned and resourced to provide structure while allowing flexibility. A mentoring program may include:


  • Workshops on topics related to the program outcomes
  • Networking events and forums, online communities and social media
  • Access to personal, professional and career development resources
  • Assessments such as MBTI, DISC or CliftonStrengths
  • Shadowing, human library, projects, site visits
  • Formal education course alignment
  • Online resources and e-learning, printed materials, videos, webinars
  • Job rotations or career opportunities
  • Links to capability frameworks and performance development
  • Leadership development
  • Assistance and follow-up
  • Monitoring and feedback


Here is an overview of the participant activities included in an award-winning mentoring program, now in its fifth year.


This program runs for 12 months and brings people together for face-to-face events that provide learning, networking and the opportunity for 1-1 mentoring meetings throughout the program. Both mentors and mentees attend workshops that run from 9.30-3pm. Many fly in the night before and can get together socially. Otherwise, they are encouraged to arrive at 9am for a pre-workshop catch up with their mentoring partner and use 3-5pm for mentoring as well.


Participants receive a package of resources to use during and after the program that contains both hard-copy and digital materials.

This mentoring program is highly valued by the organisation and participants. Mentors say they gain as much from it as mentees, who count promotions, better health and well-being, confidence and increased productivity amongst their outcomes.


To prevent unrealistic expectations, it is essential that you design the program to meet the specific needs you uncovered in the needs analysis and consultation. What you can include in your program depends on the program objectives and your budget and the extent to which you can show links to strategic aims and gain support from decision-makers.


Part 4 will discuss how to communicate and educate people so that you prevent unrealistic expectations.

If you found this post useful and you are planning a mentoring program you’ll definitely want to look at the Fast Track Your Mentoring Program Planning package.

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About Ann Rolfe

Ann Rolfe is internationally recognised as Australia's leading specialist in mentoring, and is available for speaking, training and consulting. Here Ann shares her knowledge and allows you to ask your most pressing questions about mentoring.

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