Mentoring Best Practices

Will Your Mentoring Program Succeed or Fail?

Find out if your mentoring program is set up for success or failure by checking out these three key best practices.


Companies typically come to us with one goal in mind - to develop and retain their best employees. They've decided a mentoring initiative will help them accomplish that goal (smart thinking!), but is it really as easy as select a software, pop it up, enroll and match and those results will flourish? That all depends on the mentoring experience you plan for and provide.

Your mentoring program success (and the ROI you'll be able to claim on it) is dependent on the behaviors of three groups of people. In this edition, we'll point out the failing behaviors and how you can transform them into successful ones.

Which behaviors will determine your mentoring program success? These three program issues will define the role and the behavior concerned.

  • Why Mentors Drop Out
  • Why Mentees Get Stopped
  • Program Managers Who Don't Know How to Manage


We, meaning Corp HR, Learning and Diversity, start mentoring programs with the highest hopes for success. Employees request mentoring in employee surveys. Now it is up to you as the mentoring team to understand the factors and the people who will drive that success. 

Here are some things you need to know.


Inappropriately matched Mentors and Mentees are the number one reason partnerships fail. Around 20% of potential mentors have the personality and knowledge it takes to naturally be a great mentor. In other words, only 20% of all mentors are ready for the role and can find success with any type of partner you assign them. This means that 80% of Mentors are not generally prepared to cover all topics or to work with individuals they find it hard to communicate with so you'll need to match them with the right mentee and provide them the proper guidance and training.

Mentors state that if they have to partner up with someone who is difficult for them to work with that they won't continue serving as a Mentor.


Everyone has taken training programs so we know what to expect from the process. Enjoy a seminar, practice what we've learned and debrief with the group. Simple rules, right?

But what are the essential steps for creating success in a mentoring partnership and are you making sure your Mentees understand these practical steps? Since Mentees often sabotage their own mentoring potential by not understanding the rules of engagement, here are the most important ones:

1. Mentees schedule the first three mentor/mentee meetings upfront. 

The third reason mentoring partnerships fail is because partners don't keep their commitments to meet. Mentoring partners who plan and schedule meetings in advance are much more likely to keep their appointments than those who don't. When meetings are set in advance, partners work harder to stay on schedule than those who don't. They also achieve a higher percentage of their goals.

Sounds crazy, right? Did you know that scheduling the first three meetings in advance of the first meeting increases your chances of success by 60%? So, Mentees should schedule the first three meetings at a minimum to start..

2. Set Your Goals

The second largest cause of mentoring failure comes when Mentees don't set program objectives. Successful Mentees set goals for what they'd like to achieve during the partnership period. These should be in the format of an overarching goal with one or more action steps for each goal. Mentors can help add the action steps since they've likely already achieved the goals their Mentee seeks. 

3. Provide Mentoring Structure

Give Mentors and Mentees all of the informing materials they need to guide and embed mentoring best practices. Teach participants how to share what they know and give them a system for getting predictable results each and every time they partner.


Our research shows that an attentive, engaged Program Manager will get 20 times more participation than those who don't dedicate the appropriate amount of time, energy and focus to the mentoring program. Effective program management accounts for more than one-half of program success.

With one hour of focused time a week, Program Managers can train participants, set up email triggers and reminders, provide sought after advice and monitor surveys to measure program success and ROI. 


If a company with a well-run, well-informed mentoring program creates on average 70% higher retention rates  than a company without a mentoring program, why wouldn't we dedicate the time and effort to make it go well? 

To be successful, make sure your Mentors are matched properly, that your Mentees set goals and be certain your Mentoring Program Manager is engaged, well trained and is focused on creating a great mentoring program from the start.

At Mentor Resources, we have the knowledge and expertise to assist you so don't sit out there with questions, give us a call at 415-497-8654. Ask for a free demo of Wisdom Share, our online platform. It includes all you need to be successful.

If you feel you other help, we'd love to talk to you! Complete the form below to learn more about how we can help with your mentoring program. Lets schedule a time to speak!


Similar posts

Get notified on new mentoring resources & insights

Be the first to know about news, articles, learning resources and new feature updates of Wisdom Share to help you build or refine your mentoring program with the tools and knowledge of today’s industry.