Building a mentoring program.

articles for businesses building a mentoring program
Mentors and mentees in a meeting

A mentoring program should never be viewed as an off the shelf solution. Ideally you want mentoring to be a valued part of your company culture.

Your mentoring program needs to be an iterative process were you continuously gather feedback during the running of your program and then feed it back into planning for your next program. Establishing a mentoring program does not need to be complicated. As with most things in life, the simplest way is normally the most effective.


The 5 required stages of your mentoring program.

Below are the 5 stages that your mentoring program should follow.



Stage 1 - Plan your mentoring program

This first stage is where you determine how the program will look.

Some items to consider in this phase are:

  • What focus area you would like for the program. Is your company struggling to have diversity in its leadership team or is retention of talent more of an issue? A critical look at your company’s strategic goals and aligning a mentoring program to them is essential.
  • Who will be your Executive Champions? Mentoring programs require a level of commitment from key stakeholders and having a Champion at the top should guarantee the correct level of commitment within the company.
  • What goals would you like to achieve from the program. Take some time to think what success will look like and then plan goals to make sure you will achieve it.
  • How many should be in the program. If you have never run a program before we recommend you start with a pilot of around 5 – 25 mentoring pairs depending on the size of your company.
  • How many times shall you have all the mentors and mentees mentees meet collectively. These meeting times are a great way to roll out strategic initiatives and messaging to your present and future leaders.
  • Who will own the program within the company.
  • How long do you want each program cycle to last. A common timeframe is annually but that may not suit your requirements. A pilot should be a minimum of 6 months.



Stage 2 - Establish the foundations of your mentoring program

Now that your mentoring program has been planned it is time to establish the foundations.

Some items to consider in this phase are:

  • Selecting the individuals who will be mentors and mentees. Mentees and/or mentors can either opt-in or can be nominated. NLM recommends at least the mentees opt-in to maximise their ownership of the process.
  • Getting the relevant information for the mentees and mentors to facilitate the matching of pairs. If you have company criteria i.e. defined job grade criteria, then this should also be used to simplify the matching.
  • Hold briefing sessions; one for the mentors and one for the mentees. The aim of these sessions is to give guidance on how to make a mentoring relationship successful. It is also to ensure people understand the roles and responsibilities of the mentor / mentee to manage expectations.
  • Establish key dates for the program and ensure they are locked into everyone’s calendar.
  • How will you pair the mentors and mentees. Examples include giving the mentees several options to chose from or running a process similar to speed dating. Where possible we recommend the process is mentee led rather than the company deciding the matches.
  • Determine where the first mentoring session will take place and prepare for it.

One key consideration is your mentoring program needs to be fun and engaging for all those being involved. Your first engagement needs to be such that it starts the program off in the right direction.



Stage 3 - Execute your mentoring program

It is now time to commence the mentoring program.

Some items to consider in this phase are:

  • Run the kick off session. This is where you provide the details of the program, expectations and give guidance to the pairs to ensure they get maximum value from mentoring.
  • What tools and templates will be given to the pairs to give a level of structure. One common issue with mentoring programs is participants feel they lack focus due to a lack of structure.
  • The location of mentees to their mentors may require remote meetings. How will you handle this.
  • Keeping in contact with the participants. If a mentoring pair is struggling then you need to act to help them.
  • Are you on track to meet the goals you set in the planning phase. Organising the other planned mentoring sessions.
  • Having a common SharePoint where participants can interact with each other, share best practices and access useful guidance to help them.
  • How will you get feedback and should you run mid program check ins with the group of mentees and/or mentors which is a forum for them to share their own experiences that other participants could learn from. 



Stage 4 and Stage 5 - Conclude and Evaluate your mentoring program

You are reaching the end of the mentoring program and the participants have come along way.

Some items to consider in this phase are:

  • How do you want to recognise their achievements. A closing ceremony is a great example of finishing a mentoring program on a high.
  • Give time to the mentees for self reflection on their journey to reinforcing the learnings.
  • Do you intend to market the success of the program to the rest of the company. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of mentoring.
  • How will you get the last set of feedback from the participants and other stakeholders and what shall you do with it. Continuous feedback throughout the various stages is vital to the continued evolution of the program.
  • Evaluate the feedback and determine what parts of the program can be improved or dropped. Did you achieve your goals and if not, why not.


Hopefully this gives you enough information to get started on your mentoring program.

Next Level Mentoring is here to help you at any stage, whether its

  • Helping you develop and run your new mentoring program.
  • Providing training and guidance to your mentors and mentees.
  • Introducing mentoring software as an enabler to scaling mentoring.
  • Enhancing your existing mentoring program.


Useful pages and articles. 

Click here to learn more about business mentoring programs and our services.

Click here to read our article around the cost of building a mentoring program.

Click here to read our article around what makes a mentoring program successful

Click here to read out article around a companies expected Return on Investment from a mentoring program.


Interested in knowing more?

We would love to help you.