Support Your Mentoring Program

Coventional wisdom states that any new initiative in your organisation needs support from the top. This is certainly true for your mentoring program but top down support is not enough. You will need to gain and maintain support throughout the organisation, including:

* The CEO;
* Senior Executives;
* Middle Managers;
* Potential Mentors and Mentorees;
* Supervisors of Mentors and Mentorees;
* Informal Thought Leaders;
* Program Champions; and
* The Implementation Team

Gaining support means marketing. Establish the needs of people you need to “buy-in”, clearly define what mentoring offers and how it meets those needs. Describe benefits and convey your message in persuasive terms to decision makers. Once you’ve “made the sale” you need to keep attitudes toward the program positive.

Establish Needs

Identify the specific incentives that appeal to individuals and your organization. Attracting and retaining quality people is a major issue for most organisations. Look at patterns and cost of staff turnover (are you losing new-hires? Or, is your experienced knowledge and skill base walking out the door? Are you losing graduates, mature workers, indigenous people?). Find evidence of the organisation’s needs and you’ll find a target market for participation. Position mentoring as a cost-effective retention strategy, if that is relevant. Research shows a relatively small amount of money, 5-10% can lure top talent to another similar job; but friends within the workplace and relationships with managers, colleagues and customers and career progression are retention factors. Mentoring builds a network of relationships and career development for all involved.

Describe Your Program

Determine realistically, the difference a mentoring program could make. Identify the strategic value to your organization, the program purpose and measurable objectives. Table 1 shows examples from three different mentoring programs.

Table 1 Specify Objectives

Rolfe, A. (2006) How To Design And Run Your Own Mentoring Program.
Mentoring Works

Keep Attitudes Positive

Develop a communication plan that will continue throughout the program. Send positive messages. Keep all parties informed. Ensure that management get feedback about how the program is advancing toward the strategic outcomes. Keep managers of participants in the loop and of course, ensure that participants remain engaged. It is often as important to keep people who are not involved in the program on-side, so care for them too. If there will be future opportunities for them to participate make sure they know.

By gaining support throughout your organization you are building longevity for a program that delivers value to the organization and benefits to people.

Ann Rolfe

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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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