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What are good corporate mentoring program objectives & best practices?


Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

What is your objective? This first needs to be answered, in my opinion, before you can adequately start. For instance, do you want to train people so they can be promoted within? Will they be promoted to open a new site, in another city, state, country? Not too long ago I saw a job posting for an assistant controller. The position specifically described that the successful candidate must be willing to go through the company's training program and be promoted to controller of another location.

A best practice, once again in my opinion, is to have the employee attend continuing education classes. My employer has paid to send me to a few. I am not a CPA, yet, but I have been to more than one seminar/webinar directed for CPA's to obtain CPE. These helped me with my understanding of the construction industry, critical thinking, and being more educated in general with my industry. I do not feel lost when managers and executives are discussing construction-related items.

I would encourage having them take part in writing a White Paper, even if it is for internal use, never to be distributed to customers. Select books pertaining to the company's industry and have discussions on what was read.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

This is a tough one.

I have often seen inputs measured instead of outcomes, as they are harder to assess. Examples of inputs include mentee assessment scores, numbers of meetings, training etc. What you really want is the advancement and improvement of the performance and confidence of the mentee. However, there still is value in establishing accountability between the parties and getting a qualitative assessment of the benefit of the relationship at agreed to reporting periods.

Maria Marsala
Title: Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author
Company: Elevating Your Business
(Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author, Elevating Your Business) |

For many years I had a mentor, but the firm had no program. I might look how coaching programs work. I have resources at that might assist your company.

What I would do if I were going into a company to create a mentoring program is to create a one-plan plan for it. Vision, mission, objectives, strategies and actions will get you a viable program description.

Maria Marsala
Title: Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author
Company: Elevating Your Business
(Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author, Elevating Your Business) |

My mistake. The links should be

Sorry about that.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

I have seen companies establish mentoring programs but the fact is that most supervisors and managers are NOT good mentors because they have not been mentored.

Mentoring has a positive effect if the mentor has been properly trained as a mentor, otherwise it is a poor way to achieve cross functional networking.

A good program will identify the super stars early and help them develop relationships across the company and help them to acquire a mentor that has experience and connections to help their career internally. Ideally this person is outside the employee's chain of command.

Too many times companies use a mentoring program as a back-door disciplinary process that gets in the way of proper performance management. There should performance management, and there should be mentoring, but they should not be mixed. A mentor is someone who the employee can be candid with, but should not have to worry about how that relationship will effect their salary or promotion potential. If mentors are required to report issues back to the employee's supervisor then its not a mentoring program.

Mentoring has its place in the first 3 years to help employees learn the ropes but after that companies rarely ensure there are qualified mentors on staff.

After my experiences in large companies I don't find that mentors internally can exist below the executive level because once an employee starts to rise through the ranks, the competitive feeding frenzy begins and the mentors can undermine someone who will potentially actually out perform them.

If you want to provide a mentoring program, and you are serious about growing top talent and identifying and retaining your rock stars, then invest in an externalized program of professional mentors and coaches rather than trying to add another job responsibility for your overworked and under-interested management team.

Management exists to serve a purpose but it doesn't do well in growing people.

If your purpose is to claim a best workplace award because you have a mentoring program that might attract junior talent, this type of program will be poo-poo'd by internals who see it for what it is, a marketing scam. If you are truly interested in building value and growing people, invest in the proper professional coaches and get a vendor partner that will help you to outsource the program so that all confidentiality is maintained and there is actually career benefit opportunity for the employees.

Staff levels come an go, so if you want to invest in a mentoring program you will be doing that at the senior levels most likely.

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