Mentorship – & why it fails!

Every organization has at one point of time toyed with the idea of mentorship. Some go ahead and try it and fewer still have had a successful mentorship program running smoothly. Mentorship is instituted in most organizations to solve a problem; to evoke a positive answer to the question:

‘There is someone at work who encourages my development’

So you’ve gone ahead and created an elaborate mentorship plan, put together a bunch of enthusiastic mentors and some even more enthusiastic mentees. An elaborate system of online portal is set up with the bios of both mentors and mentees. Roles & responsibilities of both have been clearly defined, the right matches are chosen and a gigantic party was thrown to introduce this program to all. After 3 months of frentic activity, immense paperwork and countless meetings, it all falls flat. Why?

If mentorship of form wasn’t already present in some form in your organization, I would suggest taking baby steps. Most mentorship programs fail not because a failure in the planning but because the people involved aren’t as enthused about it.  Putting it into their KPA’s or running after them isn’t going to work. They have to be self driven and really want to be involved. And this is where failure lies.

It isn’t that they don’t think it’s a good idea. Ask anyone and they will want a mentorship program, but given their existing workload, taking time out for mentorship along with all new initiatives gets a bit much. Even it is a 1:3 ratio and they were to meet every one once a quarter for at least 40 mins, it still eats up two hours. And as we will eventually tell them, one a quarter doesn’t cut it.

I’m trying to figure out how the successful programs run. One way that might work is group mentoring. It’s the new solution to the failure of one on one mentoring. Here a mentor spends the 40 mins with all of them together. They solve issues together. You have a mentorship program merged with a buddy system. There are of course times when one on one conversation may be necessary but for the most part, this works.

It is also something I will be trying out. Let me know how your organization handles mentorship.

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