What makes a great mentoring program.

articles for businesses building a mentoring program

So what makes a great mentoring program? Is it;

  • The simplicity of the program?

  • The correct selection of the participants.

  • The successful matching of mentor pairs?

  • The program is fun?

It’s a combination of the above plus a whole lot more.

Sounds daunting?

Setting up and running a successful business mentoring program doesn’t need to be hard. At NLM, we build our programs around the 4 principles that guarantee success. The program needs to be Simple, Sustainable, Effective and Engaging.


Let us discuss each of these four principles in a little more details.



  • You don't have to make your mentoring program complicated or convoluted.
  • You don't need all your participants to complete a 20-page registration form.
  • Mandating that all mentors go on a day training session won't add more value.
  • The participants don't need to complete a personality test to ensure a good match.
  • You don't need extra content that the mentees have to read and discuss with their mentor.

All these extras are a nice to have, but they don't add tangible improvements to your mentoring program.

The key take-away is that every extra thing you add to your program will add a layer of complexity to it.

Trust us, it will make it a little less enjoyable for both you and the participants.



Sustainable is about ensuring your program can be run year on year.

There are many cases where companies have put a lot of energy into developing a mentoring program only for it to stop 1 year later. The program leader left, the executives weren't on board, or it was cut to save money. The program wasn't sustainable and the energy used has been wasted.

As you continue to run a business mentoring program, it will improve over time. It will soon become part of your company’s culture, and you will see immense benefits to your company and your people.

It will also become easier to run, with less energy required for the same level of success.

Our mentoring programs follow a simple 5 step process that ensure it is sustainable. Each program starts with correct planning and finishes with evaluating the results to enhance the next program you run. All decisions are recorded such that anyway can pick it up and run with it.

To determine if your program is sustainable you should consider this following point; if you struggle to run the program, imagine someone else taking over when you leave.



Once, I heard a story about a big company that spent millions on a mentoring program. They had considered who the mentors and mentees should be, and how they should be paired. The mentoring pairs were then left to themselves. The program had no clear goals or strategic objectives. The mentoring pairs met for coffee without any structure or direction. Most pairings stopped after a few months and the mentees didn't feel like they learned or benefited enough.

The program was deemed a failure

For your program to be effective you need to understand why you want a mentoring program in the first place. What are you hoping that mentoring will solve? Once you answer this question your program is already in a better position.

For the mentoring sessions to be effective you also need a level of structure. Not too much structure that the meetings become rigid. But enough to ensure your participants are getting the most value from them.

At Next Level Mentoring we recommend 2 important items to give structure to the sessions.

1 - Goals.

Each mentee needs to think about the goals they want to achieve from mentoring. Their first task is to discuss these goals with their mentor. These goals will normally evolve during the discussion with the mentor to become something more meaningful. This is natural for a mentoring journey. We call this the Define and Refine stage.


2 - Reflections.

Before each meeting, the mentee reflects on what they have achieved in the period since they last met. We used our own ABCD template to encourage this reflection. The mentee completes the ABCD and gives it to their mentor to read 1 day before they meet. This allows the mentor to have an idea of what the mentee has been doing and allows them to hit the ground running when they meet.

I know if I get asked the question "What have you been doing since we last met?" I will only remember what I did today. But if I have time to reflect before I meet my mentor then I will be able to recall what I did several weeks ago.


When running a company mentoring program, you often have both current and future leaders together and engaged. Take advantage of this opportunity—communicate strategic initiatives or important matters. This just adds to the effectiveness of the program.



What is the best way to make your mentoring program a success?

Make it fun and exciting for everyone!

Your aim is for the mentors and mentees to praise the program when talking with others, both inside and outside the company. Showcasing your company attracts top talent and motivates your employees to be considered for the program.

One simple way is to not reveal the pairings until the program kick-off. Its amazing the energy in the room as people await who their mentor is going to be.

When your program finishes you need to run a closing ceremony to celebrate the amazing journey your mentors and mentees have gone on.



To create a great mentoring program for your employees, follow these 4 principles. Keep it simple, sustainable, effective, and engaging.

Want to know more?

Come visit our specific page on building great mentoring programs.

Interested in knowing more?

We would love to help you.