South-Western - Management  
Voluntary, Flexible Mentor Programs can Aid Retention
Topic Managing Individuals and Teams
Key Words mentoring
InfoTrac Reference A71352344
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News Story

Mentor programs have become crucial in companies looking to attract and retain talented employees. Here are some lessons from companies that have started mentor programs:

  1. Make a strong business case for mentoring - high turnover costs a company money.
  2. The CEO must be the champion - if there isn't a credible person behind the mentoring program, it will not be taken seriously.
  3. Design a program that fits your culture - companies should tailor the mentoring program to their employees' needs.
  4. Focus on real issues, challenges and specific areas of development - try to match the mentee's developmental need with a mentor who is skilled in that area.
  5. Provide ongoing training and other resources for both mentees and mentors - if no one understands the goals and parameters of the relationship, nothing will be gained.
  6. Integrate the mentor program with other developmental activities - connect the mentoring responsibilities to performance reviews, promotions, etc.
  7. Use a flexible system of accountability - let each manager decide how to best use mentors.
  8. Spell out rules and responsibilities - prevent misunderstandings.
  9. Make mentor programs voluntary - mandating mentor or mentee responsibilities will not work.
  10. Keep the program flexible - keep the bureaucracy out of it.


Name three specific instances in which mentoring would be a useful developmental technique.


Research a company who uses a mentoring program, interview a pair who have worked together as mentee and mentor, and summarize the benefits of their association. What problems arose and how did they handle them? How did each person benefit personally? What did the company gain, if anything?

Source Joan Lloyd, "Voluntary, Flexible Mentor Programs can Aid Retention," City Business, (Minneapolis, MN), Feb. 16, 2001, p. 11.
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