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Developing a mentoring scheme.

[check] This checklist describes the steps and considerations involved in developing an organisational mentoring scheme, and should be read in conjunction with the checklist entitled Mentoring in Practice.


Mentoring is a relationship in which one person (the mentor)--usually someone more experienced, often more senior in an organisation--helps another (the mentee) to discover more about themselves, their potential and their capability. Mentoring should not be seen as an additional or supplementary management task, rather as part of a style and approach to management which puts the learner's development at the heart of the business process.

The relationship between mentor and learner can be informal--where the learner leans on the mentor for guidance, support, help and feedback. It can also be a more formal arrangement in organisations between two people who respect and trust each other and who have organisational backing to develop the relationship and positive outcomes from it. This checklist focuses on a more formal, organisational scheme.

Advantages of a formal scheme

Mentoring:</p> <pre> shows organisational commitment to the individual's development in a non-dictatorial way provides an organisation-backed, uninvolved party who can guide, advise and listen in full confidentiality

complements other forms of learning. </pre> <p>Disadvantages of an informal scheme

* Unstructured mentoring may be seen as patronage and giving unfair advantage.

* Ad hoc relationships may not take account of the way the organisation is developing.

* Informal schemes may well create gaps in organisational development.

Action checklist

1. Check the organisational culture

For a mentoring scheme to be successful, a suitable organisational culture needs to be in place. Check for:

* a clear and accepted vision of where the organisation is going

* encouragement of learning and development activities amongst staff

* levels of cooperation and help between different sections of the organisation

* a pervasive air of trust throughout.

The key to success is trust. It may be that a programme of change is needed before an organisation-wide mentoring scheme can be attempted with any hope of success.

2. Establish the goals of the scheme

Consider why you wish to establish a mentoring scheme. Common reasons include:

* improving and maintaining the skills and morale of staff

* providing an additional source of guidance and support to that offered by line management

* enabling staff to realise career development plans

* improving internal communication.

3. Get senior management commitment

A mentoring scheme which does not enjoy the visible support of senior management is almost certainly doomed to failure. Without this support, employees will feel that the scheme:

* is under-funded or under-resourced

* merely pays lip service to the idea of mentoring, and does not have the authority behind it to progress development activities recommended.

Senior management commitment (or the lack of it) will spill down to mentors and learners and will influence strongly the time and energy that individuals devote to the scheme.

4. Find a champion

The mentoring scheme champion will preferably be a senior member of the organisation, possibly the person selected to manage the scheme. What is more important, though, is that they are seen to be actively supportive on a day-to-day basis. This will be demonstrated through their:

* help in developing the scheme

* willingness to become a mentor themselves

* involvement with others participating in the scheme

* commitment to training for those participating in the scheme.

5. Establish terms of reference</p> <pre> Clear up "advice and advise" in a legal sense Ownership of the mentoring process is with the individual learner. By adopting a joint agreement on a course of action, the mentor should not put themselves in a position of offering legal advice or guidance which could make them liable. Establish the difference between coaching, eliciting and agreeing action with pros and cons, and offering advice. Confidentiality

All discussions between the mentor and learner should be strictly

confidential. The only exception to this is if the learner agrees

that their content can be relayed to a third party (for example the line manager). Target audience Establish who the scheme is aimed at. </pre> <p>6. Start small

Begin with a pilot. Nothing is foolproof or perfect; the scheme will need testing. If blunders of novelty are to be made, then it is best to confine them to a controllable sample. Do you have an identifiable cadre of responsible volunteers who are willing to devote their time, experience and energy to supporting and developing learners on a personal basis? Your pilot will need a core of such people to lend reliability, consistency and solidity to the process.

7. Identify and train the mentors

Mentoring should be a voluntary activity--a general invitation should therefore be issued to staff to attract those who wish to become mentors. It is imperative however, that a selection process is established to ensure a level of quality amongst those who mentor others.

Training (which may be offered in-house or by other organisations) is also important to mentors--they must be fully conversant with the mentoring scheme and what is or is not "acceptable", and they must have a clear understanding of:

* the mentoring process

* the difference between mentoring and directing

* the boundaries of mentoring (for example psychological counselling goes beyond the boundaries)

* the skills necessary for effective mentoring.

8. Identify problems in advance

Work out what you are going to do when there is:

* conflict between the aims of the scheme and those of 'hidden' agendas

* breakdown between mentor and learner

* disruption to development patterns through new tasks or responsibilities

* obstruction by the line manager.

9. Work out the logistics

Make sure you have arrangements in place for:

* announcements, promotion and awareness

* questions, problems and reassurances

* the process of pairing mentor with learner

* proposing a framework for the first meeting.

10. Establish evaluation procedures

Plan to review the scheme on an annual basis against:

* the goals selected at the introduction of the scheme

* success or failure of mentoring relationships, identifying the reasons behind either.

Make sure you include learner feedback, as it is essential to amending or improving the scheme.

Dos and don'ts for developing a mentoring scheme


* Provide clear guidance on what can, and cannot, be expected from a mentoring relationship.

* Run a pilot scheme first.


* Make too many assumptions from early success or failure--each learner will have different obstacles to overcome.

* Forget that all participants are volunteers--directiveness is not on the menu.

Useful reading

Everyone needs a mentor: fostering talent at work, 4th Edition David Clutterbuck London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2004

Mentoring: a Henley review of best practice, Jane Cranwell-Ward, Patricia Bossons and Sue Gover Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004

Mastering mentoring and coaching with emotional intelligence: increase you job EQ

Patrick E Merlevede and Denis C Bridoux

Bancyfelin: Crown House, 2003

The situational mentor: an international review of competences and capabilities in mentoring

David Clutterbuck and Gill Lane eds

Aldershot: Gower, 2004

Coaching and mentoring, Work Foundation (Managing best practice 111)

London: Work Foundation, 2003

Implementing mentoring schemes: a practical guide to successful programs

Nadine Klasen and David Clutterbuck

Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann, 2002

Useful Organisations

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council

Sherwood House, 7 Oxhey Road Watford WD19 4QF

Tel: +44 (0)7000 234683

Thought starters

* What management development schemes are in place in your organisation?

* What support is given to personal development planning or continuing professional development?
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Title Annotation:Checklist 082
Publication:Chartered Management Institute: Checklists: Human Resources, Training and Development
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Previous Article:Undertaking employee attitude surveys.
Next Article:Training needs analysis.

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