“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” 

—Steven Spielberg 

Mentoring is the process of a more experienced professional providing guidance and advice to a less experienced one. Unlike a traditional training program where participants learn content based on pre-specified objectives, mentoring enables learners to set the agenda and learning experience. Learners tell their mentor what they hope to get out of the mentoring relationship.  

There are many benefits of mentoring for mentees, mentors, and organizations. Specifically, mentoring: 

  • stimulates the creation of relationships 
  • improves recruitment and retention 
  • supports diversity and inclusion efforts 
  • increases productivity 
  • creates successful leaders. 

According to an ATD poll of 1,224 talent development professionals, more than half of their organizations have some type of mentoring program. Twenty-six (26) percent had formal mentoring programs and 33 percent had informal mentoring programs. Formal mentoring programs have more structure and oversight and have clearly defined programmatic goals. Informal programs are less stringent. Of the talent development professionals who had a role in their organizations’ formal mentoring programs, 37 percent were mentors and 31 percent were administrators, who matched mentors, set up activities, or provided program oversight.  

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In addition to program structure, many variables comprise mentoring programs. First, there is the question of how mentees and mentors become part of the program. Are they self-selecting? Is there an application process? Once in a program, do participants receive any type of training? Is it formal? Online? In person? And how is the mentoring program’s effectiveness measured? Through a survey? By achieving business goals? How much influence does each design decision have on the overall mentoring program? 

In summer 2017, ATD Research will issue a survey on these questions and others to determine how organizations are running their formal mentoring programs and what determines a mentoring program’s effectiveness. With this information, ATD Research will write a report detailing the findings to help organizations benchmark their mentoring programs against their peers and help others decide if and how they want to create their own program.  

Help us create a more meaningful report. Look for an email from ATD Research with a survey on mentoring in the coming months. Participants will be invited to a webcast detailing the results of the report when it becomes available.