“There’s nothing we take pride in more than watching people escalate their careers inside the company,” said Sam. “When we have great internal talent, we want to build that out.”

A robust and effective mentoring program is a great way to promote people development:

  • It challenges high performing talent to take on a mentoring role based on their skill set – irrespective of age
  • It helps graduates and new hires integrate with the organisation and gives them a voice and an internal champion
  • It leverages the ‘diversity dividend’ across ages, races, cultures and genders
  • It encourages individual collaboration and understanding between divisions
  • It helps those located remotely feel connected to a team and the organisation.

But whilst we all have the best intentions of building our talent there are three common reasons that get in the way of using a mentoring program to promote this:


Reason #1: There’s no clearly defined vision

Your leadership team likes the concept of mentoring and has tasked you with learning more about it and figuring out a way to bring it to your organisation. You do not have a specific need for mentoring identified beyond the fact that it’s a directive from your executive team. While you have stakeholder support, you don’t really have any direction on where to go next.

The theory of mentoring is wonderful and there have been amazing results and statistics that show that mentoring is a great development tool for people. But unless you have a core business need to tie it to or at least an initiative to give it a framework, the program may be doomed to being too broad and undefined.

Reason #2: There is no defined structure

You have a specific plan for implementing mentoring with a targeted group of people. You have buy-in and excitement around the program and support from key stakeholders. You have the energy and momentum to kick off the program to great fanfare. And then . . . nothing happens. Mentoring Program need a defined structure to last the distance Matching between mentors and mentees requires careful assessment, both groups need training on how to be effective (it’s not intuitive) and meeting in cohorts creates a platform to discuss common leanings, challenges and what to expect next on the mentoring cycle.

Reason #3: There is not sufficient admin support

Your organisation is starting a mentoring program, but who is in charge with running it day-to-day? Without a key person to act as the main point of contact, your mentees and mentors won’t know who to talk to if they have questions about the mentoring program. And with no one really in charge of it, the chances of it working successfully are slim. No one will be running reports, looking for red flags, hyping the program to participants and leaders, or looking for ways to improve the mentoring experience for your employees.

Acknowledgement to Laura Francis for her insights.