Twenty Questions for Mentoring Programs

Some mentoring programs are successful, while others languish.  In seeking to work out why, Judith Lindenberger presents the view that the success or failure of a mentoring program rollout is related to building capacity and linking the program to continuous learning.  Based on her experience of developing a mentoring program for Brown-Forman Corporation, Lindenberger outlines twenty questions to use as a mentoring program checklist.

While a mentor program is one of your people development initiatives least likely to respond to a ‘laundry list’ methodology, Lindenberger’s ‘twenty questions’ is valuable in that it approaches a mentoring program from a people centric, project managed, and risk averse starting point.   Mentoring programs need to be clearly linked to business drivers, and to be integrated with existing capabilities and corporate culture:

  1.  What are our business reasons for developing a mentoring program?
  2. What organisational support exists and what needs to be developed?
  3. What are our criteria for success?
  4. Who needs to be involved in developing our program?
  5. Who’s going to manage, coordinate, and oversee the program?
  6. Who else needs to be consulted? What other information do we need?
  7. What mentoring is already in place?
  8. How will we communicate to employees about the mentoring program?
  9. How quickly do we want to roll out our program?
  10. How will we pair mentors and protégés?
  11. How will we motivate our employees to participate?
  12. Why would a mentor say no?
  13. Are there pairings we should avoid?
  14. What tips and guidance should we give mentoring partners?
  15. What ongoing support should we make available to mentoring partners?
  16. How often should we ask mentoring partners to meet?
  17. What should we do to support long-distance mentoring?
  18. How many mentors should we encourage employees to have?
  19. What mechanisms can be used to improve the program continuously?
  20. What pitfalls do we need to avoid?