Companies, government agencies and professional associations have started formalizing the mentorship process for a number of reasons:
a) To involve more people;
b) To spread the wealth beyond the usual informal and comfortable silos and into the global workplace; and
c) To make the recipients of mentoring a more diverse population.
Many of the formal programs are designed for the employees who are considered high potential or who are on the succession plans of the organization. These organizations know that mentoring is a key tactic in grooming the next generation of leaders. Beyond that, it is a great way for an organization to enrich its workforce with little time away from the job responsibilities, and the information transferred is tailored and individualized to the person’s needs. It is both efficient and effective in transferring knowledge and building relationships.
There are a wide variety of mentoring programs with just as wide a variety of designs and scattered results. In a fairly even-handed review of program designs and outcome, an article which appeared in the New York Times (Garfinkel, 2004) provided results of a survey conducted for the book Love Em or Lose Em…(Kaye, 2002). This research reported that “Some 60% of Fortune 1,000 companies now have some sort of formal mentoring.” The article went on to report that many of the programs were not producing the results intended by formal mentoring.
Here is a model that has evolved over a 20 year period that continues to deliver successful results in organizations. The basic model is Implemented in Four Phases and is comprised of 14 Key Steps. Each Phase has Key Steps accompanied by a toolkit of materials: templates, samples and examples that can be used continuously once they have been customized, tailored and branded by each individual client. The model and materials provide a success roadmap. Using the model reduces the time spent by program coordinators in implementing a mentoring program and helps programs avoid some of the common pitfalls and mistakes that others have made.
|This Phase forms the foundation for building a Mentoring Initiative. This process is heavily front-end loaded from the perspective of time for personnel to meet, research, write proposals, gather materials, and brief the major stakeholders. Teams typically spend from 3 to 6 months in this phase alone. The results are well-worth the effort.||
Keys 7 to 10
|This phase begins the process of bringing the employees, your clients, into the program. Careful attention must be paid to communication, handouts, and other materials. Programs typically last for one year.||
|Monitoring & Evaluation
Keys 11 to 12
|This is a key and critical phase for any program, especially the first time pilot. Checkpoints at critical stages of partnership development are essential to measure outcomes for Mentoring partners and the program as a whole.||
|Expansion & Outreach
Keys 13 to 14
|Once the data has been gathered and analyzed, programs typically need retooling and redesign of some components. Starting up in new venues or parts of the organization means going back through the 4 Phases as described. Expansion is less complex because all of the materials and in-house personnel are in place.||
In summary, employers in the public, private and non-profit sectors start mentoring programs because they desire a greater return on the intellectual assets of their employees. They know that through the growth of employees, their company or organization will maintain a competitive edge; not to mention improved morale and retention rates. When one employee mentors another, it is an investment of the intellectual capital of the workforce. They are transplanting information and know-how from one source to another so that these informational assets will take root and expand. Such a grafting of intellectual capital is an investment which frequently pays off in big dividends for the sponsoring companies.