ATD Blog

New From ATD Research: Mentoring Matters

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ask anyone who has had a successful career if they’ve ever had a mentor, and chances are they’ll say yes. Whether their relationship is formal or informal, mentors can have a lasting effect on mentees; their guidance can help them shape their careers. Because of the importance of mentors, ATD’s latest research report, Mentoring Matters: Developing Talent With Formal Mentoring Programs, focuses on the characteristics of mentoring programs that organizations have in place. The report, sponsored by MentorcliQ, surveyed 969 participants and delves into who participates in mentoring programs, how they are selected for inclusion, and what benefits they get from their participation. The following results are based on the 285 participants whose organizations have formal mentoring programs.


Results showed that mentoring programs can benefit everyone involved. Mentees, for example, are likely to receive professional development (36 percent) and a better understanding of organizational culture (30 percent). Mentors, on the other hand, can benefit by developing new perspectives (59 percent) and developing new leadership skills (49 percent). The organization can benefit from implementing mentoring programs, too. The main benefits for the organization are higher employee engagement and retention (50 percent) and supporting growth of high-potential employees (46 percent).

Of course, implementing a mentoring program isn’t enough; organizations need to also ensure that the program is helping to achieve learning or business goals. In terms of the present research, results showed that 57 percent of participants thought their organization’s mentoring programs were effective to a high or very high extent at achieving learning goals, while 38 percent said the same about achieving business goals. Meanwhile, 35 percent believed mentoring programs were moderately effective in reaching learning goals; 47 percent said the same for achieving business goals. Further, organizations that train mentors or mentees before or during the program are significantly more likely to report that mentoring programs are highly effective at meeting learning goals.


The report outlines several recommendations and best practices for implementing formal mentoring programs. To read more about what the subject matter experts had to say, read the full report. Below are several highlighted recommendations.


Test with a pilot program. Before rolling out a full-fledged formal mentoring program, you should test it with a small number of people from your target audience. Once you receive feedback from participants, you can make any necessary changes before implementing the full program.

Evaluate performance before and after the program to measure effectiveness. It’s essential to continually monitor your organization’s mentoring program throughout its lifecycle. Jenn Labin, principal at TERP Associates and author of Mentoring Programs That Work, suggests evaluating the program at least once a month; that way, if something isn’t going well, you can make changes before the program is finished.

Provide clear guidelines and training for all involved. Because training is associated with achieving learning goals, it’s crucial for organizations to train program participants. Training mentors and mentees can include a focus on communication skills as well as listening and feedback.


Learn More

The full report is available for purchase for a member price of $199 ($499 for nonmembers) at There is also a whitepaper, which is complimentary for ATD members and $19.99 for nonmembers. Join us for our free webcast on January 24 at 2 p.m. To sign up, click here.

Visit the ATD Research page to learn more.

About the Author

Megan Cole is a former ATD research analyst. Her primary responsibilities included creating and programming surveys, cleaning and analyzing data, and writing research reports for publication.

She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida and earned a doctorate in communication from Arizona State University. 

1 Comment
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You might want to consider dropping the term "mentee," and instead use the terms "learning partner" or "mentoring partner." These terms more accurately reflect the quality of the relationship and also more accurately create expectations for outcomes. In any case, it's great to have these results.
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