With the rapid changes in the world economy coupled with geopolitical divides, organizations are going through challenging times. The unexpected changes have left employees grasping for direction and support; Mentoring is the most common way of filling this void and help the employees navigate through turbulent times. Easier said than done, designing and implementing a mentoring program for improving individual and organisational performance is a challenging task that often meets with mediocre results or clear-cut failure.
How to design a great mentoring program?
 
A mentoring is a special kind of developmental relationship in which learning occurs on a broad range of topics from professional to personal and which includes a deep seated caring for each other. Many confuse supervision with mentoring; supervision is not necessarily mentoring in the true sense. Lack of clarity around the science of mentoring has degraded the quality of mentoring programs. You can hit the jackpot by using these steps to design a great mentoring program for your team or organization.
Define objectives
In case you plan to implement a mentoring program in your team or organization, the first step is to define the goals of the program; fuzzy objectives will lead to fuzzy results. Most of the organizations target improvements in efficiency and effectiveness as key results. The most common goals of mentoring programs are
•    Developing young talent for competing in the market
•    Socialising young talent to company culture
•    Developing leadership skills in the organization
•    Strengthening corporate culture to tackle rapid change
•    Reducing the need for supervision
•    Achieving corporate objectives
•    Retaining key talent
Identify the protégés for the mentoring program
While mentoring has been shown to have positive effects for both mentor and protégé, it is important to zero down on the target population and after that tailor the program accordingly. Not everyone is ready for mentoring and should not be forced into the program by the organization. Most of the organizations use the following criterion to select the protégé for the mentoring programs. The list includes energy, intelligence, the maturity of behaviour, decision-making ability, dependability, team skills, and loyalty. The best programs consider these factors as well – willingness to learn, emotional intelligence, and self-confidence in selecting the participants for the program.
Identifying the mentors for the mentoring program
Finding the right mentors is one of the biggest challenges, not every senior management incumbent is ready for being a mentor. Most of the mentoring programs flatter on this point because they assume that any senior management person by that person’s experience is ready for mentoring protégés. Research shows that being skilful in sharing, coaching, teaching, following up, caring, spending time with juniors is not necessarily correlated with the title. It’s always best to interview people from the mentor pool and after that decide who is ready to take on the role of the mentor. In this process make sure that you do not offend those who are not invited to be the part of the mentoring program, because some of the protégés may be on their teams.
Launching the mentoring program
A well-designed mentoring program would include training for the protégés and mentors before the program starts. The protégés need to be introduced to the learning model and what is the best way to benefit from the program, additionally its best to tell them what this program is not about – i.e. it does not guarantee promotion, pay raise, higher title or additional perks.
Mentoring programs that assume that the senior managers know how to mentor and coach often crumble. In addition to being an expert on their domain, the mentors need to be aware of and skilled in giving and receiving feedback, understanding career alternatives, managing emotions, and using different learning styles with protégés. Training mentors to be ready for the program is one of the biggest challenge, their busy schedule, and self-worth at times becomes a stumbling block. Many mentors exhibit an unwillingness to learn, and you need to be extremely careful that this trait does not get passed on the protégés during the program unintentionally.
Running the mentoring program
Many mentoring programs fail in this phase; most of the programs witness a lack of follow up from the mentors. Protégés are often eager for more contact than they get in spite of repeated postponed appointments with mentors. When the mentors push their mentoring responsibilities lower in the priority stack and miss deadlines, push back commitments and even ignore their mentoring responsibilities and obligations altogether, the program is all set to fail.
A periodic assessment of the protégés and mentors experience can help you on keeping a tab on the strength of the individual relationships in the program and suggest where to spend additional time if need be.  In case the mentors fail to measure up to the program, additional training must be provided to them so that the protégés do not suffer due to mentor’s skill deficiency.
Jappreet Sethi