"Mentoring programs can be an important part
of the human performance technologist's toolkit."
The history of mentoring may have its beginnings in Greek mythology
when Telemachus left his son in the care of a wise man named
"Mentor." Defining what mentoring is, and what it isn't, is an
important part of setting boundaries in the mentor-mentee
relationship. Mentoring can simply be a person with experience
assisting another person with less experience. Organizations that
seek to establish mentoring programs must first define what
mentoring means to them.
The terms mentoring and coaching are often used interchangeably and
are sometimes confused. The book, Mentoring: A Henley Review of
Best Practices by Jane Cranwell-Ward, Patricia Bossons, and
Sue Gover (2004), describes the differences (as shown in Table 1)
and offers this distinction: "The quick differentiation seems to be
that the mentoring relationship is where a person would be
encouraged to explore areas in which they feel they might need some
Table 1. Mentoring vs. Coaching
(Cranwell-Ward, Bossons, and Gover, 2004)
Coaching can be an important part of the mentoring process while
mentoring offers bigger, broader thinking and focuses on providing
guidance on how things get done and why. The ability to develop or
implement and evaluate a mentoring program can be a useful skill
for the human performance technologist.
Benefits of mentoring programs
Mentoring programs can offer a variety of benefits to organizations
and employees. Organizations may see a link between mentoring and
increased employee productivity, enhanced organizational
commitment, and lower levels of turnover. They can use mentoring
programs as a tool for educating or socializing new employees to
the organization's values. Mentoring programs can also serve as a
key resource for developing managerial talent.
Mentors themselves may experience greater internal satisfaction and
fulfillment and a sense of rejuvenation in their organizational
role, while also benefitting from the creativity, energy, and loyal
support of their protgs. Recognition and tangible rewards
provided to mentors by their organization can also increase job
Protgs in a successful mentoring program may look forward to
faster promotion rates, higher rates of career and pay
satisfaction, as well as increased self-esteem. Further, mentoring
may provide the protg with important psycho-social and career
Formal mentoring model
While informal mentoring has been associated with success due to
high levels of philosophical commonality, formal mentoring programs
can be effectively constructed to ensure success. HPTs would be
wise to follow ADDIE guidelines in mentoring programs and include
analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.
First, ensure there is a true need for the program through needs
and causal analysis. Follow with development and design that is
respectful of and in alignment with current culture and
organizational goals. Lastly, implement a plan that is thoughtfully
marketed to ensure enthusiastic participation, and include both
formative and summative evaluation.
What elements are required for a successful formal mentoring
program? Timothy J. Newby and Ashlyn Heide list seven
characteristics in their 1992 Performance Improvement
Quarterly article "The Value of Mentoring."
- Establish clear goals and objectives for the program.
- Orient the participants so that both parties understand the
purpose, needs, benefits, and expectations for the program and
their respective roles, responsibilities, and qualifications.
- Evaluate and match mentor personal characteristics, skills, and
goals with the characteristics and needs of the protgs.
- Provide interpersonal communication training and promote
flexibility and tolerance for change for both parties.
- Allow the mentor-protg pair to work together on a trial or
preparatory basis for a brief period.
- Monitor, evaluate, and make adjustments throughout the entire
mentorship relationship, focusing on both outcomes and process
- Engender and encourage protg independence to successfully
close the mentoring relationship.
Defining roles: Mentors and protgs in a learner-centered
A successful mentoring program will clearly define the roles of
mentor and protg and may also include a formal mentoring
agreement or contract. Lois J. Zachary's The Mentor's Guide:
Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships is an excellent
resource on how to develop, document, and assess a formal mentoring
program. Zachary describes the changing paradigm from authoritative
mentoring and passive protg to a "learner-centered paradigm" with
an emphasis on the mentor as facilitator and the protg as an
Marketing the program
The decision to launch a mentoring program should be followed by
the development of a purposeful marketing program. Give careful
consideration to the following elements in Table 2 as described by
Cranwell-Ward, Bossons, and Gover:
Table 2. Marketing a Mentoring Program
(Cranwell-Ward, Bossons, and Gover, 2004)
Finally, be sure to include both formative (in-process) and
summative (project end or milestone) evaluation from the outset of
planning your mentoring program. Include frequent checks with your
project champions and subject matter experts during the development
and design phases. Consider creating mentor and protg meeting
evaluation forms as a way to assess program progress, and lastly,
make sure to examine the program at reasonable milestones to ensure
that you are meeting the goals and objectives established at the