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Three reasons why your mentoring efforts could fail and what you need to implement to make sure they don't

by , 20 December 2013
Companies generally have the best intentions in offering mentorship programmes to employees, but so often these programmes fail to meet the expectations of the company or the mentee. Here are three reasons why mentorship programmes often fail with some solutions to make sure this doesn't happen in your company.

Want to ensure your mentoring programme is a success? Make sure you avoid these pitfalls.

Three reasons why mentoring programmes fail and how you can avoid failure

Failure reason #1: Lack of clarity on purpose and objectives

What you can do:

'Clearly define why you want to provide a mentorship programme and what you want to achieve with it,' says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management. This'll determine:

  • Who your target group is (for example, all employees or management trainees)
  • Who the mentors are
  • How you need to customise your mentorship approach and processes to align the programme with the objectives

Remember the well-known saying: 'If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else.'

Ensure that all the role-players are clear on the purpose and objectives of the mentoring programme.

Failure reason #2: Lack of mentor and/or mentee commitment

What you can do:

  • Ensure that every mentor and mentee is committed to the programme.
  • Ensure that chemistry exists between mentors and mentees.
  • Clarify expectations of, and demands on, both mentor and mentee upfront.
  • Make it very clear to mentees that they remain responsible for their own development and they would need to demonstrate this commitment to the mentor.
  • Recognise the efforts of the mentor through your recognition or performance management system.
  • Guide the mentor and mentee in how much time they're likely to spend on building and maintaining the relationship.

Failure reason #3: Not sustaining the momentum

What you can do:

  • Continuously ensure the programme remains visible. Maintain it on the agenda of management meetings or people management forums.
  • Verbally demonstrate commitment from the head of the business.
  • Formally review the progress with the programme and provide feedback to all stakeholders.
  • Link the mentorship programme to other HR systems so it's integrated with the normal day-to-day management of people.

The bottom line: Any system is as good as the people implementing it; this is also true of mentorship. The design of the system is essential, but the people who would need to run with it will ultimately make it work or fail.

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