Recruiting and retaining mentors

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Recruiting mentors can be a challenge for organizations planning in-house mentoring programs, as well as for well-established in-house programs. Potential mentors can be reluctant to participate in an in-house program for a variety of reasons.

Potential mentors may raise concerns about the time commitment, or about whether they feel they have the skills to be successful mentors.

In the early stages of an in-house program, potential mentors also may be reluctant to participate because the program is unproven. Creating a strong sense of management buy-in and commitment to the program, coupled with the argument that by participating they’ll be playing a key role in the success of an important initiative can help overcome such reluctance.

When looking for people to participate in the program as a mentor, it’s useful to be aware of the following:

• Studies have shown that people who report having been in a successful mentoring relationship are more likely to agree to take on the role of mentor.
• People interested in their own careers have been shown to be more willing to support the career of others through mentoring.
• People who report having a high quality relationship with their supervisor are generally more willing to act as a mentor.
• When people who have not had a mentoring experience weigh the anticipated costs and benefits related to entering into a mentoring relationship, they anticipate more costs.

Retaining mentors

You should also consider the issue of retaining mentors. A willingness to continue as a mentor is often tied to how confident the mentor is in his/her mentoring skills. So, to address such issues, you might consider providing:

• mentoring skills training,
• support groups for mentors, and
• an evaluation program that mentors can use to objectively assess their mentoring skills.

A mentor support group is a terrific way of helping mentors:

• deal with issues they may not have experience dealing with,
• gain awareness of other issues and ideas other participants (mentors and mentees) are dealing with, and
• gain exposure to others within their organization, which can be quite beneficial to their own career.

Providing incentives to participate can also help in recruiting and retaining mentors. Examples of possible incentives include:

• work time allotted for mentoring activities,
• a budget for mentoring meetings conducted over lunch or dinner,
• a stipend for mentoring, and
• recognition at an organization awards event or in an organization-sponsored newsletter.

Discover where your career can take you

If mentoring is to support career development . . .

'mycareer' resources may help

As an organization, you can support your mentoring relationships with these additional tools. Mentors and mentees may find the resources at 'mycareer' to be helpful to their discussions and goal setting. The mycareer website provides career maps, education pathways, career exploration tips and assessment tools to help mentees map where they are, discover where they can take their career and plan for what they want. There are additional resources for mentors, managers and HR to support the career conversations.