Should you institute an in-house program?

Having well defined goals for an in-house mentoring program is crucial, but not enough to ensure its success. There are a number of other factors to weigh when deciding whether to institute an in-house mentoring program, including:

• How might an in-house mentoring program contribute to achieving the organization’s overall business strategy?

• How would an in-house mentoring program fit within the organization’s culture?

• Does the organization have capacity to operate an effective mentoring program? – You’ll need to dedicate resources (money and people) to administer the program.

• Can the organization afford these resources at this time?

• Can you secure management buy-in and support for an in-house mentoring program?

• Would a mentoring program complement or duplicate other human resource strategies the organization already has for employee development and socialization?

• Can you achieve the same goals using other strategies?

Structuring an In-House Mentoring Program

If your organization decides to go ahead with an in-house mentoring program, the next steps and decisions relate to structuring the program.

In structuring the program, be sure to address the level of formality and structure you want for the program. Research has shown that programs that have some guidelines in place are more effective.

Areas you should consider establishing guidelines for include:

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• the frequency of meetings,
• the duration of the relationship,
• whether mentors and mentees must sign a formal mentoring agreement,
• rules regarding confidentiality.

As you make decisions about the structure of your program, keep in mind that – at heart – mentoring is about interpersonal relationships so the structure should help facilitate development of effective relationships. To help ensure the success of an in-house program, therefore, you might consider training aimed at helping participants develop effective relationships.

For example, you might provide training on things like: 

• providing effective feedback,
• ways of managing difficult situations,
• establishing relationship boundaries,
• honing communication skills.