Archive for December, 2014

3 Common Mistakes Made When Matching Mentors and Mentorees

Posted on: December 31st, 2014 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

*Parts of this blog post have been previously published in our monthly newsletter titled, Business Mentoring: How We Match Mentors and Mentorees.

In our last blog post, we discussed How to Make a Successful Match Between a Mentor and a Mentoree and we shared some of the ideas behind Management Mentors' algorithm which was born from our 90% success rate in mentor/mentoree matching.

In this post, we are going to tackle three of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to matching mentors and mentorees:

  • It gets too political. Someone on the committee is overly influential and may force matches based on office politics rather than the recommended matches.
  • A committee makes the matches but must send them to upper management for review, at which time upper management makes changes (and not for the better). The problem with this is that upper management was not involved in the committee meetings and discussions, so they might not understand the reasoning behind the matches.
  • People put too much emphasis on percentages. Our matching system provides a "matching percentage" between mentors and mentorees. So Jim Smith might be rated as a 58% match to Kim Jones, based on the matching algorithm. Percentages should be seen as a starting point for discussions, not the be-all end-all.

Do any of these mistakes sound familiar to you? If your company has made these mistakes and now finds itself with an unsuccessful mentoring program, can it be fixed? It sure can. The first step is recognizing where the problems lie. We have plenty of resources that you can share with the executives at your company which will help to find a solution to your broken matching system and/or mentoring program.

How to Reduce Your Training Expenses with Corporate Mentoring

Posted on: December 24th, 2014 by Mentoring Talent presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

While training classes are widely available for any learning need, they can also be very costly. The time spent away from the office and probable travel expenses, as well as the cost to take the class (or create the course internally), necessitates an immense commitment of both time and money from your organization.

In a poll taken during one of our recent webinars, 66% of attendees stated that they use a combination of mentoring and training in the workplace. This combination of methods is just one way in which you can free up your training budget while generating an even better developmental result.

While mentoring can supplement training, in some cases it can also be effectively substituted for training. If you’re finding that your training budget is too small to get the amount of development your organization’s employees truly need, don’t let your training budget limit the growth of your company. Improve your business performance by making sure you evaluate the needs of your organization and consider the beneficial impacts of mentoring, both in conjunction with and in place of formal training classes.

Supplementing Training with Mentoring

There are cases when it is extremely beneficial to supplement your training with mentoring, as mentoring provides a type of learning that is more specific to the needs and culture of the organization than traditional classroom training can ever be.

Follow these steps to be sure this is the right path for you:

  1. Determine if mentoring is appropriate to supplement the focus of the training course
  2. Confirm that qualified mentors are available
  3. Time the mentoring program and partnerships to begin as soon as possible after training ends to promote reinforcement
  4. Assess the mentee at the end of their training to set specific goals in their mentoring learning plan relative to where they are developmentally
  5. Assess the mentee again after the partnership to measure the learning that took place


If you have a limited training budget or if you just want to accelerate your learning curve, implementing a mentoring program can help with these problems and many other bumps you encounter. Mentoring is an efficient and cost effective use of your training budget that frees up crucial funding and hours, giving your company more flexibility to focus on its actual objectives of growth and development.

Substituting Mentoring for Training

Mentoring can also replace formal training programs in the right circumstances – but be sure to tie it to business objectives and formalize the process so that it gains respect within your organization.

Follow these steps to successfully implement mentoring within your business structure.

  1. Determine if mentoring is able to achieve desired learning goals and objectives
  2. Win hearts and minds of all stakeholders (including mentors, mentees, managers and leadership)
  3. Agree on structure, process and learning goals for the partnerships
  4. Confirm that qualified mentors are available
  5. Ensure that mentors and mentees are committed and understand their roles within the partnership
  6. Obtain manager support and understanding of their role in the mentoring partnership
  7. Asses learning at the end of the partnership


70-20-10 Model

Mentoring is not just more cost effective than training; it’s also more effective towards achieving your learning and development goals – and here’s how.

The 70-20-10 training model developed by Lombardo and Eichinger is the result of extensive research into the “why” of the success of high-performers. This learning and development model posits that learning happens in organizations in practice according to the following breakdown:

  1. 70% of organizational learning is due to challenging assignments integrated within the workflow – learning by doing.
  2. 20% of organizational learning is due to social relationships and feedback.
  3. 10% – and only 10% – of organizational learning is due to coursework and training classes


Take a look at the first two: formal mentoring covers 90% of employee needs through assignments integrated into the mentee’s workflow, and feedback given via social relationships.

Furthermore, mentoring provides this information in shorter and more effective segments, as well as in terms that are specific to the needs of the organization.

In Conclusion: How Can Mentoring Help You?

Mentoring improves your business performance by developing your internal talent, and providing cost effective solutions to help your employees grow and develop. Reduce your training expense and get more out of your budget by:

  • Evaluating what a structured mentoring program can achieve for your organization
  • Determining how your organization can roll out mentoring as an effective talent development initiative
  • Implementing a successful mentoring program based on a strong plan that’s tied to your organizational objectives.

When Mentorship Programs Fail Due to Poor Support

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

mentoring program support

I am frequently asked “What are the most common reasons mentorship programs fail?”

There are four main reasons mentorship programs fail:

  1. Design
  2. Matching
  3. Training
  4. Support

This is the fourth in a series of four blog posts.

In this post, we will focus on support as a common reason mentorship programs fail.

In the final post of our series, we are covering the issue of ongoing support of mentoring pairs. There are some organizations that create a mentoring program and match people—and that’s as far as they go. This limited amount of involvement is mentoring “lite” and likely to get poor results.

For a mentoring relationship to be successful, there has to be someone that the pairs can go to in order to resolve issues. This would be the Mentoring Program Manager (MPM), an internal person who has other duties within the organization—most often human resources, training and development or diversity.

"A good mentoring program needs a Mentoring Program Manager to make pairs accountable."

When setting up a professional mentoring program, the MPM specifies how often mentoring pairs should meet and what they should work on. The MPM is responsible for checking in with the pairs monthly/quarterly to verify whether or not they are meeting as well as checking in on the quality of their meetings.

This expected check-in motivates the pairs to accomplish their goals of the program. Supporting the pairs need not take a long time depending on the number of pairs a program has. In a traditional one-year mentoring program of twenty, the MPM may spend 3-5 hours a month monitoring pairs. Typically, 10-15% of pairs will need more support than the others.

In practice, the first three months is the most critical time period for the pairs to gel and to work effectively. If that has not happened within three months, that pair should be dissolved. If the pair has clicked, then they are not likely to need the MPM much throughout the rest of the program. The fact that the MPM is there and available allows them to be more comfortable within the program. In today’s mentoring profession, there are now companies that will actually manage programs for you, that will act as MPM externally. Whether you have an internal or external MPM, it is critical to have one.  

Why Mentor Matching Can’t Be The End of Your Involvement

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by Mentoring Talent presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Mentor matching certainly sets the stage for how well a mentoring partnership will go – but it’s not the end-all be-all of a mentoring partnership.

Whether because of personality clash, mismatched competencies, difficulty with communication, or a different reason entirely, some mentor-mentee matches simply don’t work out.

It’s often possible to save a mentoring partnership that’s on the rocks, but it’s not always obvious to a program administrator that a mentoring partnership is in trouble until it’s too late. Any time that the partnership can be saved, however, it always comes back to one thing: communication.

Don’t underestimate how necessary it is for you to check in with your mentors and mentees regularly, pay attention for warning signs, and report on the progress of individual partnerships as well as the overall mentoring program throughout its cycle.

How a Mentoring Partnership Falls Apart

1. Mismatch. The mentor matching process may go wrong for one of many reasons. But many times the higher mismatch rates occur either when a) the mentee is not clear about what they want to achieve in a mentoring partnership or b) program administrators are doing the matching on paper and by hand, especially with larger groups.

2. Personality Clash or Disrespect. Awkwardness and discomfort in new situations is completely normal, and may go away after a mentor and mentee have become more familiar with each other. Even so, a lack of “chemistry” or “sparks” can be manageable. For example, you may not have liked all of your teachers on a personal level, but chances are you still learned from them.

The most important thing to remember is that the number one criteria for matching mentors and mentees must be development. If that lack of interpersonal chemistry keeps the development from taking place, the mentoring partnership will never succeed.

One red flag you must watch out for, however, is a lack of respect. Even one-sided disrespect can’t form the basis of a partnership, or foster development.

3. Passivity and Passive Aggression. Sometimes people with differences of opinion can many times enjoy discussion that shares ideas and worldviews. Sometimes they can’t. In a mentoring partnership, if discussions during learning sessions fall into the latter category, you might see passive aggression and/or a complete halt of activities.

Even if mentors or mentees don’t come to you for help resolving a situation like this, it’s crucial that you watch out for the warning signs so that you can step in as soon as possible. Likewise, if they do come to you, don’t brush off their concerns. You expect them to invest in their partnership – and they expect you to invest in them.

4. Partnership Failure. If you aren’t alert, the mentoring partnership can fail without you noticing. Activity will simply stop. The mentoring pair won’t meet. They won’t set goals. They’ll give up on each other and the program as a whole.

Depending on how closely the two partners work with each other in the organization and how far their discontent has spread, this can have negative consequences for not only their productivity and efficiency, the productivity and efficiency of those around them, and your organizational culture, but also for the longevity of your mentoring program due to bad word of mouth.

How a Mentoring Partnership Takes Off

1. Optimal Match. Great matches can be made with or without mentor matching software (though especially for larger pools of potential participants, matching software can drastically simplify the process and cut down on potential errors). For optimal matches, just make sure that the criteria and the process is as simple as possible.

Complicating the process with several different matching criteria doesn’t result in better matches: it just makes more work and frustration for you, and increases the possibility of mismatch. So whether you want to match participants manually, or allow them to browse each other’s profiles and match themselves, just remember to keep things simple.

2. Respect as the Basis of the Partnership. Great partnerships grow out of mutual respect. Even if there are troubles in a mentoring partnership, if both mentor and mentee still respect each other, most things can be fixed or compromised on.

3. Growing and Learning Together. The great thing about mentoring is that mentor and mentee can learn from each other – just in different ways. While the partnership should be driven by the mentee and their learning needs, being exposed to a new perspective in the organization can cause the mentor to learn as well.

4. Separation/Redefinition. Separation and redefinition of the mentoring partnership occurs when the formal mentoring program sponsored by the organization comes to an end – but that doesn’t mean that the mentoring partnership has to come to an end as well. The mentor and mentee may decide to continue the partnership on their own time, contributing to a mentoring culture at your organization. But even if the mentor and mentee both decide not to stay on as mentor/mentee informally, a successful mentoring partnership ends on good, mutually beneficial terms for everyone involved.

The program administrator can make or break a mentoring program, so don’t underestimate your importance. 

Mentoring Myth: Buddy systems and mentoring programs are the same thing.

Posted on: December 3rd, 2014 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

There are some mentoring myths we encounter day in and day out as we guide our clients on their mentoring journey. This is the second in a series of posts on mentoring myths. Watch as we bust these myths wide open!

Mentoring Myth: Buddy systems and mentoring programs are the same thing.

BUSTED: Organizations typically use buddy systems to help new employees adjust to their jobs during the first few months of employment. Buddies are most often peers in the same department. They assist new employees for short periods. Buddies don’t require any specialized training.

Mentoring is a more complex relationship and focuses on both short- and long-term professional development goals. Though a mentor may be an employee’s peer, most often a mentor is a person who is at least one level higher in the organization and who is not within the mentoree’s direct supervisory line of management.

We recommend training for mentors, mentorees, and mentoring program managers.

If you want to get this myth plus five more in one handy package that you can easily access and share with others, then download our complete white paper: 6 Mentoring Myths Busted.

corporate mentoring myths