There are so many ways to ‘do mentoring.’ It’s easy to read an article and succumb to the notion that one way is better than another. Here are a few of the dichotomous proclamations leaders have made to me just this past week:
- “Millennials want informal mentoring! No structure. They want to create their own structure.”
- “Informal mentoring doesn’t work. Mentoring only works if it’s highly structured.”
- “Mentoring is an expectation of being a leader.”
- “Our leaders don’t have time to do mentoring.”
- “Mentoring needs to be in groups.”
- “Mentoring needs to be among peers.”
- “We’re looking at sponsorship instead of mentoring.” (I told his person to read my blog on the myth of sponsorships)
- “Mentoring is essential to people’s success but they will have to find a way to do it on their own time.”
Let’s stop focusing on the format and start focusing on the results mentoring produces.
Here are 6 ways to check if your mentoring initiative is effective:
1. Strategy is at the core
Your mentoring is aligned with a corporate priority and you have a clear picture of what you’re trying to accomplish. Is your mentoring program set up to specifically drive an initiative that the organization values? (I actually had a program leader insist that the purpose of his program is to see if mentoring works. That’s like using a word to define the word…) Do you have a clear picture of what you’re trying to accomplish? What is the goal for your program and what does success look like?
2. Success is being measured
You are measuring the success of mentoring. And please don’t just use feedback forms to measure whether your participants enjoyed the training, the workbook, and their Mentor. Think bigger! Think strategically. Think like an executive. You need to be measuring whether you moved the needle on the strategic focus and accomplished your goals.
3. Scalable to easily add more participants
Your mentoring should scale to reach more people. If you design your program so that it requires an inordinate amount of administration such that you cannot easily add more participants, you cripple its potential to make a difference.
4. Sustainable beyond you
If your program requires you to constantly breathe life into it, it is not making a difference. And neither are you. Your program needs to shift the ownership of success from you to the participants. They need to be responsible for their own success in the program.
5. Simple to administer and participate
If your program is not simple, forget it. People don’t need more complications in their lives. They need easy wins. Help them to win at mentoring by keeping your program simple to administer and simple to participate.
Your program needs to make a difference for your participants and for your organization. Short of that and you have nothing more than a happy hour for employees. How to test significance? Go back to the strategic focus and success measures to ensure your program and participants are aligned accordingly.
Stop worrying about the format and start worrying about the 6-S Effectiveness Test: Strategy, Success Measures, Scalability, Sustainability, Simple, Significant. It doesn’t matter if the structure of your mentoring program is traditional, reverse, group, reciprocal, peer, forwards, backwards, upside down or sideways. If its ineffective, then so are you.