Internal Mentoring Programs



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

mentoring roles


A mentoring program has multiple roles with unique skillsets and duties that are critical to success:

  • Mentoring Program Director: This person is responsible for recruiting mentors, and mentoring clients and then matching them up based on the clients’ developmental objectives. They must also monitor the program to ensure that the rules of confidentiality are being observed and that the objectives are being achieved. Occasionally, if any party is unhappy, they will need to intervene.
  • Mentor: The party who will meet with the mentoring client and provide learning opportunities and guidance based on their personal and professional experience.
  • Mentoring Client: The party who is learning; developmental objectives are the basis of the relationship. These objectives can be either personal or professional and may have a direct or more indirect impact on their work.
  • The Client’s Line Manager: The manager whose business objectives must be achieved through the mentoring client and other direct reports. This person can have a strong positive or negative impact on the success of the mentoring process.

Figure 2: Mentoring Roles

 mentoring roles


Figure 3: The Mentoring Life-Cycle

mprogram 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.