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Gaby Marcon

SHINE People & Places Ltd


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Top 10 tips to design and implement a successful mentoring programme


Gaby Marcon gives her top tips on ensuring your mentoring scheme gets up and running without a hitch.

Successful mentoring programmes are the result of good planning and implementation. The checklist that follows is based on experience in a wide variety of programmes. Whether you are starting a programme or addressing issues with an existing one, it will help you to identify the areas on which you need to concentrate your efforts, and the areas where you will need the help of a ‘Mentoring Specialist.’ 

1. Establishing the context and purpose for the mentoring programmes

This means answering the questions “what do we want to achieve?” or “which outcomes are we looking for?” It could be that your organisation needs to retain talent, manage change or diversity or improve motivation. Whatever it is, establishing it right at the outset, is essential for the success of the programme.

2. Establish goals and objectives

Once the needs have been identified you need to gather the evidence and the support to launch the programme. You may need to do a survey in order to identify the organisation’s objectives and priorities. You may also need to ascertain how a mentoring programme can be integrated or linked to existing initiatives.

3. Gaining consensus

Organisations need to show a return on investment in order to fund a project. Proving that by developing a mentoring programme the bottom line can be improved is the first step to getting consensus from the top. If the board or top management is not supportive of the initiative, the programme is not going to work.

4. Selecting the most appropriate programme

There are different types of mentoring to suit the needs and the objectives of the organisation. The main decision to be made is whether the programme will be formal or informal followed by whether it is going to be one-to-one, group or reverse. This will depend largely on the scope and extent of the programme.

5. Financial Planning

Setting up a mentoring programme is not an expensive exercise, however you need to ensure that adequate resources and manpower to run the programme are made available. The time spent by a programme co-ordinator, in the case of formal programmes, or training for mentors and induction for mentees as well as making available material online / offline need to be thought through and allocated.

6. Marketing the programme

This depends largely on the culture of the organisation, the less keen it is on a learning and development the more marketing is needed to publicise the scheme, find champions and recruit mentors.

7. Monitoring

Monitoring that the sessions are actually happening and that the matching is working is very important. Issues to do with pairs not meeting due to wrong matching for instance can only come to the fore if monitoring by the programme co-ordinator is done on a regular basis.

8. Select the most appropriate way of matching

Matching mentors and mentees is not a science, it is more of an art. The first thing that needs to be decided is whether the mentee will have a choice of mentors or whether the pairs will be assigned. If the mentees have a choice of mentors, then what remains to be seen is whether the process will work through self-selection or direct matching.

9. Train mentors and induct mentees

Training may vary from one to two days. Training for mentors and induction for mentees are essential in order to ensure all the mentors/mentees in the programme have a clear understanding of its aims and objectives, the skills required of them and the boundaries of the relationship.

10. Evaluating and celebrating

Although the evaluation of the programme should happen on an ongoing basis, theprogramme needs to be measured against its original objectives. Evaluating the programme, both in a quantitative and qualitative way is important to measure success, bring changes if they are needed and ensure continuous funding and support.

Gaby Marcon is the co-founder of Shine People and Places, a specialist in developing and implementing mentoring programmes in organisations. She is a qualified coach/mentor and associated to the Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring.

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Gaby Marcon


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