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January 2018
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TD Magazine

Minting Your Mentors

Formal mentorship programs enjoy better results when accompanied by training.

Approximately three in 10 organizations have formal mentoring programs in place, but not all do them well. ATD's research report Mentoring Matters: Developing Talent With Formal Mentoring Programs, sponsored by MentorcliQ, explores common characteristics of formal mentoring programs, including their effectiveness in achieving learning goals.

The research found that providing training to program participants was related to high effectiveness. Specifically, organizations that train mentors before or during a mentoring program were significantly more likely than those that do not train mentors to report that they were highly effective at meeting learning goals. The same was true of mentee training. Clearly, these findings highlight the need to train mentoring program participants.

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Why does training make such a big difference? Jenn Labin, principal at TERP Associates and author of Mentoring Programs That Work, says that most people lack a frame of reference for a mentor or a mentoring program. She explains that mentors often are chosen because they are good at their job, but that doesn't mean they will be good mentors. "There's an entirely different skill set and it's one that doesn't come naturally to a lot of people," she says.

An example of a company that deals with this issue well is Wyndham Worldwide, which offers a different type of training for both mentors and mentees. Anna Marie Crowley, the company's vice president of global talent management and organizational effectiveness, explains, "Training for mentors is more detailed in as much as there's more for them to consider because they are usually more in a position of influence. For mentees, the training is more about the expectations."

To have a successful mentoring program, both mentors and mentees need not only training, but also related materials and resources that will ensure their preparedness. Such resources can include general program or welcome guides, mentoring agreements, or conversation starters.

About the Author
Megan Cole is a research analyst at the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Her primary responsibilities include creating and programming surveys, cleaning and analyzing data, and writing research reports for publication. Prior to working at ATD, she worked as a market research analyst for a marketing company that specialized in association marketing. 

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


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