Written with Les Mckeown

Julie and I just returned from a great few days in San Jose. While there we had an opportunity to work with some folks who wanted to REFRESH a mentoring program that wasn’t getting the results.

The more we looked at it, the clearer it became that the reason the program wasn’t ‘getting the results’ was because the mentoring program had no CLEAR GOALS to start with!

It’s hard to ‘get results’ if no-one knows what the results should be…(As my mother used to say: ‘If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it.’ Typically Irish – it’s not really meant to make sense, but it does…).

How do you make sure your program ‘gets results’?

1. Make Sure You Know Your Mentoring Or Coaching Program’s Primary Function.

There are 16 potential Primary Functions your program could have – choose which one (or two, at most) applies to your program:

  1. Enhancing Recruitment Activities
  2. Enhancing Retention
  3. Getting over a learning curve
  4. Dealing with major organizational change
  5. Bridging competency gaps
  6. Converting training to results
  7. Encourage personal individual growth
  8. Facilitate internal hiring and transfers
  9. Accelerate the development of high performers
  10. Increase the representation of minority interests
  11. Help low performers improve
  12. The development of management
  13. Provide succession and for the development of emerging leaders
  14. For new hires
  15. Help re-vitalize mid-career executives
  16. Assist employees obtain formal qualifications

2. Set Clear, Quantifiable Objectives For Your Program

By setting quantifiable objectives, you will end up with very clear, identifiable and above all, realistically achievable goals for your program.

Relate all of your objectives to the program’s primary function and to a realistic time frame.

Added bonus: by doing this, you will be able to prove the validity of your mentoring or coaching program should one of the ‘powers-that-be’ threaten to pull your program and its budget…

3. Tell The Mentors And The Protégés Why You’re Doing This

One of the ‘Duh…!’ moments we had in San Jose was working out how best to communicate the program’s goals to the mentors and the protégés.

Many companies don’t even consider this step – the program is designed and implemented without sitting down with the mentors and protégés and clearly explaining:

‘This program is aimed at increasing employee retention from X% to Y% over a three year period – we’re doing this to keep you here.’


‘This program is designed to increase the percentage of jobs we can fill by internal hiring from c% to d% over 18 months. We’re doing this to broaden your skill set, so we can offer you a broader range of career options within the company.’

(Or whatever specific objective you’ve set.)

Think about it…how can the program participants help you achieve your program goals – if they don’t know what they are?

4. Ask The Line Managers

The people best placed to tell you if your mentoring or coaching program is working are the LINE MANAGERS of those involved in the program…

…not the mentors, or the protégés (although their views are invaluable in other respects), and not, you’ll be pleased to know, you (the program coordinator is too close to the program to give a wholly independent assessment).

Give your line managers the written objectives of your program (as arrived at above), and agree a simple mechanism by which THEY will monitor and report on the program’s success in achieving its objectives. Make it simple to ensure their involvement.

J. Leslie McKeown, is the President & CEO of Predictable Success

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