What Not to Do in a Mentorship Program for Better Training

Mentorship programs are an important staff development tool. Use these best practices to avoid common mistakes when executing a mentorship program.

Published on 9 October, 2017 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
Use our guidelines for pairing up in mentorship programs 1

Staff development is an integral part of any business. One of the most popular staff development tools is the use of mentorship programs.

A solid mentor-mentee relationship gives new and existing employees the opportunity to learn from a veteran. New and more seasoned workers can get a fresh perspective on company initiatives and solutions to business problems.

Step Away From the Water Cooler

Every business has one — either a literal or a metaphorical water cooler — where employees congregate to share information about the workplace, the business in general and often their fellow employees.

These “water cooler therapy sessions” can foster discontent among seasoned employees, intimidation of new employees, and misunderstandings between employees of different departments. Your senior employees end up with festering discontent and your new employees will tread water on their own in some rough seas.

Step Up With Mentoring Programs

Businesses are trying to combat this phenomenon through mentoring programs. Once seen only as a “nice perk” in the workplace, company-promoted mentoring programs are coming into their own.

Businesses are realizing that a mentoring program can improve many areas of employee performance:

  • Positive induction of new employees into the company
  • Transfer of knowledge from seasoned employees to new hires
  • Improved customer relations through customer service training
  • Improved organizational efficiency
  • Career development for employees
  • Leadership training that benefits all employees

Mentorship prgorams improve organizational efficiencyPitfalls to Avoid in Your Mentoring Program

Most failed mentoring programs lack proper planning and are poorly implemented and managed. There needs to be a proper system in place that can introduce the program, operate, and evaluate it on an ongoing basis, and manage it on a day-to-day basis.

A successful mentoring program can take many forms, but there are a few things to avoid, regardless of the form your mentoring program takes:

1. Don’t pair people at random.

Never throw all the names in a hat and have new employees pick a mentor. Here are a few simple guidelines for pairing mentors and mentees:

  • Identify potential mentors within your organization first.
  • Then assess your mentor choices for their interest in serving as a mentor.
  • If they don’t want to do it, don’t force it!

Assess the interests and goals of your new employees, and then pair them with veteran employees who share those interests and aspirations.

2. Don’t push mentoring aside.

Mentoring is important; treat it as such. Don’t push the program aside when things get hectic around the office.

Ask mentors and mentees to make their relationship a priority by planning time to work together, and then treat these meetings as mandatory events. Phone calls and text messages can happen anytime, too.

3. Don’t leave mentors to flounder on their own.

You should clearly define the role you want your mentors to fill. Spell out your expectations at the beginning so mentors will know what the goal of their efforts should be. Remember that mentors should offer guidance and direction to new hires, not order mentees around and micromanage everything they do. Also, set a limit on the time that the mentorship will last.

4. Don’t push a “my way or the highway” mentality.

When setting up your mentoring program, remember that effective mentoring sees senior employees offering valuable insights and information to their mentees, and vice versa.

Effective mentoring is a conversation, not a sermon.

5. Don’t assume your program will run itself.

Your mentoring program needs monitoring. You can’t just set it up and then walk away, assuming it will continue the way you planned it. You should check in with your program participants on a regular basis to assess the program and make any adjustments you deem necessary.

Mentoring As It Should Be

A mentoring program is an invaluable asset to any business and its employees. Regardless of where your employees are on their career ladder, they can benefit from a mentorship relationship. A successful program can help all your employees become the strong, capable, satisfied employees that your business deserves.

Include the Right People When Developing a Corporate Mentorship ProgramHow to Develop a Corporate Mentorship Program From Scratch

Organizations across of virtually any size or industry can benefit from implementing a corporate membership program. Learn how to create one from scratch here.

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