Setting up an internal mentoring program requires careful planning for it to be successful and produce the desired results. As there are complex logistical issues as well as confidentiality requirements, continuous performance management is needed to ensure that the program stays on track. Occasionally a mentoring relationship will need to be terminated if, for example, there is a poor fit between the mentor and the mentoring client. As a result, all of the main players in such a program will need to know what is expected of them as well as the ideal overall life-cycle, the framework for each individual mentoring engagement, and the best mentoring style and skills to achieve the desired results.
Often an organization’s own subject matter experts (SMEs) are so experienced and skillful that they are unconsciously competent (see the model below). In other words, they do not realize (or remember) the reasons why they do the things they do. This can make it difficult for them to transfer their tacit knowledge. Also they often do not have coaching skills and are not used to giving feedback and so might not make good mentors.
Figure 1: Stages of Learning
A mentoring program has multiple roles with unique skillsets and duties that are critical to success:
Figure 2: Mentoring Roles
Figure 3: The Mentoring Life-Cycle
An organization that knows how to do mentoring well can respond faster to business challenges and continuously improve, strengthen and retain its most important resource: its human capital.