7 Common Reasons Why Workplace Mentoring Programmes Can Fail

In this article, we share 7 of the top reasons why mentoring programmes can fail and how businesses can avoid these mistakes.

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Over the last few years, we’ve seen a huge growth in demand for mentoring programmes from organisations, and for good reason. Mentoring comes with several benefits, from improved employee retention to enhanced employee engagement, mentoring is a highly impactful way to not only help businesses develop the skill sets of their employees but also create a learning environment where employees can connect and come together to achieve their goals.

But it’s not just as straightforward as starting a mentoring programme and hoping for the best and not all are successful. In this article, we share 7 of the top reasons why mentoring programmes can fail and how businesses can avoid these mistakes.

1. Not Having Clear Goals and Objectives

There are many reasons why an organisation might implement a mentoring programme, from helping develop leaders within the business, to improving diversity, equity and inclusion across the board. One of the most common reasons why mentoring programs can fail, unsurprisingly, is having a lack of clarity or purpose for the program.

When businesses don’t have clear goals and objectives for the mentoring programme, they set themselves up for failure. When there are no precise objectives in place, mentoring programme success not only becomes harder to track but both mentors and mentees won’t have a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve in their mentoring relationships.

It’s crucial that as an organisation you make tactical decisions before launching your programme, from who needs to be included, the structure of the programme itself to the number of people involved. Remember, to take the time to identify the primary goals, if you want to make sure participants are motivated, engaged and committed to the mentoring programme.

2. Poor Mentoring Matching

Poor mentoring matching can be detrimental to the overall success of the program. When it comes to mentoring, every good successful mentoring relationship is built on trust and compatibility. When you start a programme where your mentors and mentees aren't best suited for each other, it's going to be ineffective, with both participants becoming disengaged and unsatisfied.

As humans, we all have different views, goals, personalities and values, which all play a part in building the foundations for any relationship. It’s never a good idea for organisations to make random mentoring matches but instead take the time to recognise pairs of individuals who would be a good fit. Whether they have similar goals, skills or simply their personalities work well together, businesses that want to make sure their mentoring is successful, need to ensure quality matching is a top priority.

Thoughtful mentor and mentee selection goes a long way, it’s also important to allow your mentors and mentees to provide input into the pairings. If they don’t think the match is the best fit, then don’t force them to go along with it. We also suggest using mentoring software such as PushFar with the technology to effectively match your mentees and mentors.

3. Lack of Marketing

Lack of marketing for a mentoring program isn’t as commonly thought about but is one of the top reasons why a mentoring programme can fail. When it comes to any new training or learning programme within a business, marketing needs to be a priority.

You can’t expect people to sign up for something they don’t even know exists. One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to marketing is believing it's a one-time thing, with many people sending out 1 organisational-wide email and expecting full engagement from their employees. When you market your mentoring programme, it’s an ongoing process that will require time and resources

Hosting webinars, putting posts on social media and holding events are all simple but effective ways of spreading awareness of the programme and getting your employees to sign up. If you want to know more, read our article where we share our top tips to promote your mentoring program.

4. Not Providing Enough Time for Mentoring

We’ve all been there when the workload gets a little overwhelming and it feels like there's not enough time to get any more done in the workday. When the organisation goes through a busy period, learning and development are often pushed to the back of everyone's mind. But, it’s one of the worst mistakes you can make if you want a successful mentoring programme.

If you want to see your employees progress, develop and grow then you need to actively promote learning and ask them to make mentoring a priority. Employees also need to keep a work-life balance and whilst you might think it’s the best idea for the mentoring to be done outside of working hours, you’d be mistaken. Give your employees an hour or two each month, or even weekly, to meet with their mentor if you want to see results.

Ask them to schedule their meetings and treat the mentoring sessions as something they can’t miss out on. When you don’t prioritise the time for mentoring and don’t encourage employees to do the same, then you risk employees forgetting about the programme and becoming disengaged.

5. No Support or Buy-in From Leadership

As with any learning programme, you need support from leadership and management if you want it to be successful in the grand scheme of things. Programmes that don’t get the support are the ones we often see fail because they are not a priority for the business.

When you don’t have leadership or top management buy-in, then more often than not, time and resources won’t be assigned, which potentially could hurt the outcome of your programme. Leadership needs to be encouraging employees and even better if they lead by example and act as mentors themselves, without this, then you won’t get the commitment you need from others within the organisation.

Employees look up to leadership and so they need to act as role models. Support from management also shows your employees that your business truly cares about their development and progression. We understand that sometimes getting support from leadership isn’t always the easiest task, but it’s detrimental if you want to have an active and engaging workplace mentoring programme.

6. Not Offering Training

Not everyone knows what mentoring is, which is why you need to focus on providing training around mentoring and its best practices for your employees. Whether that's by providing webinars or giving out resources to help them be more knowledgeable, training is an essential part of ensuring your mentoring programme is as prosperous as it can be.

Mentoring isn’t always as simple as it seems, with lots of different factors playing into each relationship. With each mentoring pairing being unique, anyone involved must understand the fundamentals of mentoring before getting started on their learning and development journey.

Luckily for you, PushFar offers free monthly mentoring training for organisations and their employees. Helping hundreds of individuals make their mentoring relationships go one step further.

7. Not Using Technology to Enhance Your Mentoring Programmes

Technological advances are truly enhancing how businesses opt to run their mentoring programmes. Long gone are the days when the programme administrator spends far too long working on an Excel spreadsheet.

This might indeed work for smaller organisations or pilot programmes, but when it comes to scaling your programme and offering it as an organisational-wide incentive, then this is where online mentoring programmes truly are invaluable.

Software such as PushFar can help programme administrators greatly reduce the amount of time and resources needed to run a mentoring programme. With automated matching, the ability to track KPIs and in-app messaging, there are so many incredible benefits to opting for a virtual mentoring platform.

Final Thoughts

Some of the reasons above for why mentoring programmes can fail are very easily avoidable. We hope this article was able to give you a clearer insight into the mistakes you might be making and how you can prevent them, moving forward with your mentoring programme.

If you want to learn more about mentoring, then book a free demonstration with a member of the PushFar team today.

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