Mentoring is a practice that benefits companies, individuals belonging to the organization and more closely mentors and mentees who are personally involved with this type of partnerships. When members of a company are partnered with in each other in order to give or receive the guidance that comes along with a mentorship, you are not only helping them to grow professionally and to advance their own career and develop leadership skills, but you are also doing a great service when it comes to the organization’s growth and its impact on the industry. People engaged in successful mentoring programs are not only able to advance on their own career path but also able to grow as an individuals and be part of a workplace that cares about building a better work culture, promote better communication amongst staff and create a positive impact in retention efforts. As great as it sounds, we must be aware of the fact that while successful mentoring programs are great for many more reasons than the ones we’ve just listed, they do not always function the way they are meant to and they often fail.
A mentoring program can be unsuccessful for many reasons, such as a lack of support by the company on the mentor/mentee relationship or even insufficient engagement to the cause by the participants themselves. Today here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to take a look at some of the reasons why mentorship programs do not work and which are the most common mistakes participants makes that often lead to failed mentoring relationship programs. While there is not one universal trick to make a program succeed, there are a few things that you should keep in mind in order to give your mentoring initiative every possible chance to be prosperous.
Carelessly matching partners
This is probably one of the worst mistakes that can be made when starting to plan a mentorship program. Names shouldn’t be picked out of a hat like in a lottery and people shouldn’t be matched unless they are carefully selected to work together based on their necessities, skills, and personalities. Sometimes people think that just because you have an individual who is a leader in the company, he or she will be willing to automatically become a mentor or even that they’d be good at it. Not matching people properly can ruin a mentoring program before it even takes off.
Failing to provide guidance
So now you have your people together and then what? You cannot simply let them mingle and then hope for the best. Mentors should understand what is expected of them within the company’s goal and according to the plan that has been carefully laid out that outlines the purpose of the mentoring program. Remember that mentors shouldn’t be first-line supervisors, so they must understand what their place is as mentors and respect those boundaries. The best way to assure that is to clearly explain what they goals are and what is expected of them when it comes to mentoring their mentees.
Not allocating the proper time
If you have a great program set up but do not allocate time for your people to meet and have proper time to conduct their mentoring activities, then you might as well just cancel the whole program. Mentoring takes time and just trying to squeeze it in between breaks and in off-hours is just not going to cut it. Mentoring programs deserve the time and the energy necessary to be fruitful and to truly spark change. Time needs to be set aside for your teams to meet.
Leaving it all up to the mentor
This can happen at a company level, but also at the individual level, we think that the mentor is the one who needs to guide the relationship and just do everything for it to succeed. Mentors are normally very busy individuals and in a way or another, they are the ones who are donating their time and energy to help others advance and the organization itself to be better positioned within the market. It is unfair to expect mentors to do all the heavy lifting and to be responsible for the relationship to work. The key to success is to accept that this is a partnership and therefore all parties involved need to pitch in. Forgetting to follow up.
Not planning the path
The path of mentorship must be filled with benchmarks and goals that are spaced in carefully planned intervals that allow partners to know where they are going and how well they are doing on their way there. Sometimes mentorships believe they can just make it up as they go and do not have a need to plan their steps before taking them; this is a huge mistake and it only leads to failure in the long run.