4 Pitfalls - Why Mentoring Programs Fail

Posted by Andy Holmes on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 @ 08:45 AM

Mentoring has found a new place in today’s workplace, government organizations, nonprofits and educational institutions. As organizations grow in the number, the volume of knowledge and years of experience within their collection membership also grows. By starting a mentoring program, invaluable knowledge can be passed on to newcomers drastically boosting the speed of on-boarding while building inclusion, employee engagement and company culture.

Mentoring, like all things reliant on human interaction, has its own pitfalls. Here at Mentor Resources, we have supervised countless successful mentoring programs using our software. We’ve also run into all the pitfalls and know how to avoid them.

These are the 4 big pitfalls of mentoring programs:

One - Incorrect Matching

Matching is the single most important factor of a mentor program. It is the foundation upon which the entire program is built. Right from the start, compatible mentors need to be matched with mentees who will work well together. Getting this wrong can create internal resentment, upset and bigger HR problems than you could possibly imagine. The solution is to nail matching on the head in the beginning. Through our tested surveys, algorithms and systems we have 99% success rate when it comes to matching so all program participants succeed.

Two - Faulty Training

Not everyone is a natural mentor. If someone is a fantastic manager, don’t assume they will be great at mentoring others to be managers. Mentoring, like any skill, is something that can be taught and trained into people. In order for a mentoring program to succeed there needs to be proper training for mentors right from the start so all partners get off to a bright start. For example, mentors should not always hand out answers rapidly to mentees. Sometimes it's best to let a mentee “skin their knees” and learn on their own. Only skilled mentors will know when to give and when to withhold information. 

Three - Forgetting to Follow Up

Mentoring is a volunteer activity. No one is required to do it. Employees and mentors engage in formal mentoring programs to grow, but because these programs aren’t a mandatory part of work they often go stale and get dropped. To keep mentoring programs going requires follow up and gentle guidance from program administrators. Providing key questions about career choices for mentors to ask their mentees or advising mentors to explore skill sets that might be foreign to mentees can keep relationships fresh and exciting. Mentoring programs only stay invigorated when life is pumped into them and sometimes that requires a little push from program admins.

Four - Not holding to structure

Mentoring programs have a wide variety of structures. There are a few mainstay formats and many organizations require tailored structures to fit their needs. No matter how the program is designed, there are a few key points of structure that are common to any successful mentoring program. Some of these are schedules, goal setting and key topics of discussion (can be chosen by Admins or mentors themselves). Mentoring programs need to be controlled and structures like frequently scheduled meetings with specific topics and goals in mind need to be adhered to. Without simple targets and guidelines the sails of the mentoring program will go limp.

If your program is growing over 20 participants, you’ll need more than a word doc or excel spreadsheet to manage your mentoring program. Mentoring Software (like Wisdom Share) enhances the entire process and provides the following benefits:

  • Minimize the 4 biggest risks
  • Offer an amazing experience to participants
  • Automate administrative work
  • Report efficiently
  • Access best practices

Mentor Resources can help any company to leverage technology to create tailored career development programs that are cost-effective. Our mentoring software - Wisdom Share is a cloud-based program that is simple and comes with guided workflows. Included are tools for administrators to attract, enroll, connect, and guide participants. We also provide analytics to ensure you can monitor your employee development program and easily see ROI metrics. 

Reach out to us today for a Free Demonstration of our software. 



Topics: management development, web-based mentoring