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Questions from the Maine HR Convention Keynote - Effective Mentor Program Design

Last week I led a keynote workshop Mentoring: Informal Formal, and Impactful at the Maine HR Convention. Over a hundred participants attended this workshop. Participation was strong and lots of HR leaders had questions about how to effectively design in Mentor program for their organizations to have a positive impact and a strong return on investment.

How to develop and gain support from stake holders and leaders in building a mentor program?  

I suggested that building a business case to show how having a mentor program may benefit in areas including: new hire orientation, culture immersion, support retention, develop high potential leaders, skill building, and succession development as possible cases. When HR makes a strong case for how Mentoring benefit the business and bottom line, it is much easier to request both funding and support resources to design programs for business impact.

How to schedule mentor meetings between the mentor and mentee, especially for busier places or those in seasonal businesses?

I suggested asking the mentors about barriers that are getting in the way with mentor meetings, and to schedule with the mentee based on their schedules. Ideas from the audience included: lunch time meetings or morning coffee meetings. Others in the audience suggested tying the number of meetings and participant participation to performance metric - make it a requirement for mentors. Tie the number and quality of meetings to performance incentives.

Who should be involved in designing the mentor evaluations and what is measured?

My response was too have those people who either are the supervisors or leaders of the mentee or mentor or the person who sees the performance on a more daily basis be the one to both evaluate and create the evaluation process questions and partnership with HR. For manufacturing, when I have designed Mentor programs in that environment, it was smart to have the plant managers or the supervisors have a say in the evaluation process because they would be the ones evaluating and they knew what the competencies looked line for the mentor and mentee.

How can we build a supportive culture where people who are not selected as mentors and compensated don’t want to help out?

The participant mentioned that in her organization, people know longer wanted to help at all because they felt they weren't being paid if not serving as a mentor. My suggestion with this specific challenge was to look at the culture and ways that culture support could strengthen in in the organization, and also take a look at how employees are being evaluated for performance in general.


Building an effective mentor program takes an unique approach to support specific business and organization needs, as well as your culture.

What successes and challenges are you experiencing with your mentor program? Please share in the comments below.

Learn more about our case study on the custom mentor program we built for Simon Pearce and our Blog - Positive Use of Power: Mentor Programs Strengthen Culture and Product Strong ROI.

Questions? Let’s connect. I would love to hear your success stories. Please send them to: or visit

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