How to start a mentoring program title graphic

How to Start a Mentoring Program

Table of Contents 
What is a mentoring program? 
Why have a mentoring program? 
Benefits of Mentoring  
Steps to starting a mentoring program 
Case study 

What is a mentoring program? 

Before we discuss mentoring programs, it’s important to know what mentoring is. So, what is mentoring? The best way to describe mentoring is the creation of a relationship between two people where the need for knowledge sharing is recognized. A mentor is not a certified teacher or a professionally trained coach. Mentors are more like a guide and an advisor to the mentee who seeks to develop their skills within their career.  

A mentoring program is a cost-effective solution to assist mentees in reaching their development goals, because with mentoring you are using your internal talent base to implement development. Mentoring programs typically involve two voluntary participants from the same organization and are designed to guide the mentee through long-term development in their career path. Mentees drive their own development by realizing a goal and selecting their own mentors based on matches with mentor profiles and skills.  

how to create successful mentoring relationships

Why have a mentoring program? 

Did you know that 53% of Americans are unhappy in their current position? With more than half of the people you work with being unhappy, it’s not too crazy to say that some may be considering finding another job soon. A decrease in employee retention typically leads to low productivity, low engagement and can make a negative impact on the overall company culture 

Low retention and engagement are typically associated with a lack of career development opportunities and the opportunity of better jobs in the job market.   

With “The Great Resignation” on the way, you may be wondering how to reduce employee turnover. In 2020, uncertainty drove the rate of people leaving an organization down. Now that things are returning to a state of normalcy, its time organizations act to retain their employees. Mentoring is one way to address this challenge.

Benefits of Mentoring

Improving employee engagement and increasing employee retention are just some of the benefits of a mentoring program. There are several advantages for the mentee, the mentor, and the organization involved.  

Mentoring enhances employee engagement and entices employees to stay at their current organization. Participants feel more a part of their organization as they build a partnership and expand their professional networks. Mentees develop skills through their mentors while mentors gain a sense of fulfillment and self worth. In turn, the organization benefits from these relationships. Some ways organizations can benefit follow. 

  1. Promotes achievement of talent development goals such as succession planning and ensuring solid leadership development. 
  2. Informs everyone throughout the company that leadership is willing to invest in its employees. 
  3. Improves talent acquisition efforts. New hires are aware of organization's career development opportunities.
  4. Fosters employee retention, which leads to a reduction in turnover rates.
  5. Reduces training costs by using internal talent for development and fostering one-on-one interaction.
  6. Harnesses the power of natural leadership.  

4 Steps To Starting a Mentoring Program 

When it comes to mentoring, what do you think the most important factor is? It's building a sound, strategic plan catered to your organization’s needs. There is a correlation between high planning and high success.

We recommend using the Plan, Implement, Evaluate, and Manage (PIE*M) model to achieve maximum success with your mentoring program. In this section, we will explain what each phase of the model entails. 

We've also included a video overview of the model below.


  1. Plan  
    Connect your program to organizational goals. Staying on track with the overall organizational vision is essential to creating a mentoring program that truly benefits the organization. Your mentoring initiative and format need to align to your goal to achieve the best results. For example, if your goal is to develop high-potential individuals, you should launch a traditional mentoring program for leadership development.  

    Find an executive champion. You need a senior level executive to increase buy-in from stakeholders. This leader should sponsor, participate in, and promote your mentoring program to help increase participation and enthusiasm.

    Identify success measurements.  After you have identified your organizational objectives for your program, you need to consider your measurements.  What specifically will tell you that you have achieved your objectives.  Make sure you include both “qualitative” as well as “quantitative” measurements.

    Identify participants. Once you have identified your organizational focus, determine whether your program will be offered to specific participants, or  ore inclusive. You will want to decide on the type of participants to help you determine matching criteria. 

    starting a mentoring program webinar

    For a more defined week-by-week plan, download our webinar on a 12-week plan to launching a successful mentoring program.

  2. Implement 
    Promote your Mentoring Program. Now is the time to start thinking like a marketer. Craft a message to your organization and distribute it. This message should announce your program and generate excitement from potential participants.  

    Build your pool of qualified mentors. Once you have identified participants, you will need to get mentors signed up for your program. You can recruit mentors in several ways, including nominations from management or a request for volunteers. Find your mentors first, to allow mentees to join a program that is already filled with mentors. 

    Match your mentees and mentors. This is a critical step in the process and an area where the right software can improve your matches. Based on the criteria you established in the first step, mentor and mentee matching should follow those guidelines. This increases the likelihood that their relationship will be successful for the organization as well as the mentor-mentee pair. 

    Train your participants. Once your participants have been matched, it’s important that you offer them training. Training sessions should help your mentors and mentees understand their roles, align program goals and objectives, and help participants become familiar with tools or resources available. 

  3. Evaluate 
    Set Goals and Establish a Way to Track Program Success. You will need to track the success of your program, both at an organization level and at an individual mentoring partnership level. Throughout the program, you will need to measure how well your mentors and mentees are achieving the goals they set. 

  4. Manage 
    Implement Mentoring Software. Utilizing technology to manage your mentoring program increases the likelihood of program success and reduces administrative headaches. Implement a mentoring software solution that allows you to streamline your processes and includes all the features your administrators and participants need to thrive. 

Mentoring Readiness CTA

Many organizations believe they are ready when they just might not be. With Insala’s mentoring readiness one of our experts takes you through a process and gap analysis to ensure that you are ready. 


Case Study 

Here is a case of an organization that was having challenges during a merger. They followed the PIE*M model with Insala’s assistance and achieved mentoring program success. 

Industry: A U.S. based manufacturing organization that was acquired by a global organization.  

Challenge: Bridging the gap between employees of the merging organizations 

Solution: The merged global organization decided to implement a virtual mentoring program as their best solution. Insala provided a Mentoring Readiness Workshop to help the client determine how to implement a successful mentoring program. Their matching strategy supported with mentoring software was determined to be the key factor in the success of their mentoring program.  

To ensure participants would be successful in their new matches, the global organization utilized Insala’s training for mentors, mentees, and associated managers/supervisors for a period of two years. At that time, the organization then licensed Insala’s mentoring training content and certified instructors to continue training for the future. 

Key Accomplishments:  

  • built internal relationships 
  • restructured business practices in a cohesive way 
  • brought two very different workforce cultures together 

Judy is the Director of Consulting and Mentoring at Insala. She has over 30 years of experience providing customized human resources consulting services to medium to large organizations across a variety of industries. In the area of mentoring, Judy has designed and delivered workshops, training, and a complete mentoring methodology. Judy’s mentoring process is the foundation of Insala’s mentoring solution we know today. Her thought leadership articles have been published in journals such as The Diversity Journal and Industrial and Commercial Training and she has spoken at many conferences throughout her career.


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