Mentoring Problem #2: Buy-in for Your Mentoring Program

November 22, 2016

Buy-in for your mentoring program is more important than you think. No matter how few you have, youíll still need sign-off and approval for their allocation. Whether that means administrators, training, technology, or something else, youíll need buy-in for your mentoring program Ė and youíll need it from more people than you probably expect.

Mentoring Buy-In Steel Cage Match: Business vs. Non-Business

In the battle between The Business Item That Must Be Completed by Tomorrow, versus the Non-Business Item That Youíve Also Committed To, which one are you putting bets on actually getting finished? Really, this isnít a tough one. Barring family commitments, The Business Item almost always wins for all of us. Just consider that itís the same way for your leadership and management teams.

Your organizational leadership doesnít want a nice-to-have mentoring program that makes people feel good. Neither do the managers responsible for your mentors and mentees. They want productive employees, and a growing bottom line. If your mentoring program sounds like itís going to detract from either of those things, they donít want it, and you're not going to get buy-in for your mentoring program.

ďBut it wonít,Ē I can hear you saying. ďItís going to do the opposite!Ē

So make sure it sounds that way when you pitch it. You have a selling point, here. Position your mentoring program as an business strategy and back it up and youíll have a much greater chance of winning funding and resources than if you present it from literally any other angle.

Here are a few quick best practices for your pitch:

  1. Identify the organizational objectives your program intends to target
  2. Tie those objectives to your mentoring programís strategy
  3. Indicate your success metrics and how you plan to measure and report on your success
  4. Ensure that youíve accounted for all of the elements necessary to ensure your programís success Ė from role profiles, skill/competency assessments, and mentoring training to your programís scale and scalability.
Remember too that who needs to be in the room for your pitch will vary from program to program depending on the focus and objectives, and which people hold a prominent stake in either the running or outcome of your mentoring program.

Itís common sense that if youíre targeting areas for improvement that will directly involve and affect certain departments and/or levels of the organization, youíll need to include those leaders. For example, if you intend your mentoring program to focus on manufacturing, you probably wonít need the CFO or anyone else high up in Finance to be in the room when you pitch. On the other hand, if your focus is leadership development, you will need all of senior leadership.

The bottom line: all stakeholders need to be involved in the decision to move forward and should hear your pitch. However, the identity of those stakeholders shouldnít change the facts in your pitch.

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