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Establishing Mentoring Program Guidelines

Mentoring offers numerous benefits to an organization. However, mentors and protégés must understand their respective responsibilities to realize these benefits. One way to ensure that mentors and protégés gain a proper understanding of mentoring is to develop and publish clear mentoring guidelines.

Effective program guidelines explain the selection process, expected conduct of participants, and minimum requirements of participation.

The selection process

How mentors and protégés are selected depends on your program’s purpose and goals. For example, if the program was implemented to induct new employees, all new employees may be potential protégés. However, the program could also target a specific group of new hires, such as those with a certain job title or within a certain department.

You can also ask mentors to volunteer. If your program requires mentors with highly specialized skills, you may want to invite qualified employees to step in as mentors. Of course, they should be “willing” participants since unwilling participants rarely make good mentors.

Another selection method is to invite protégés and mentors to apply for the program together. In this case, the matching process is complete before participants enter the program.

Whatever the structure and method, be sure that selection criteria are clear, specific, and publicized in advance, even if the guidelines simply state that the program is accepting all members of a target group.