Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mentoring Problem #2: Buy-In for Your Mentoring Program

No matter how few mentoring resources you have, you’ll still need sign-off and approval for their allocation. Whether that means administrators, training, technology, or something else, you’ll need buy-in for your mentoring program – and you’ll need it from more people than you probably expect.

Mentoring Buy-In Steel Cage Match: Business vs. Non-Business

In the battle between The Business Item That Must Be Completed by Tomorrow, versus the Non-Business Item That You’ve Also Committed To, which one are you putting bets on actually getting finished? Really, this isn’t a tough one. Barring family commitments, The Business Item almost always wins for all of us. Just consider that it’s the same way for your leadership and management teams.

Your organizational leadership doesn’t want a nice-to-have mentoring program that makes people feel good. Neither do the managers responsible for your mentors and mentees. They want productive employees, and a growing bottom line. If your mentoring program sounds like it’s going to detract from either of those things, they don’t want it, and you're not going to get buy-in for your mentoring program.

“But it won’t,” I can hear you saying. “It’s going to do the opposite!”

So make sure it sounds that way when you pitch it. You have a selling point, here. Position your mentoring program as an business strategy and back it up and you’ll have a much greater chance of winning funding and resources than if you present it from literally any other angle.

Here are a few quick best practices for your pitch:

  1. Identify the organizational objectives your program intends to target
  2. Tie those objectives to your mentoring program’s strategy
  3. Indicate your success metrics and how you plan to measure and report on your success
  4. Ensure that you’ve accounted for all of the elements necessary to ensure your program’s success – from role profiles, skill/competency assessments, and mentoring training to your program’s scale and scalability.
Remember too that who needs to be in the room for your pitch will vary from program to program depending on the focus and objectives, and which people hold a prominent stake in either the running or outcome of your mentoring program.

It’s common sense that if you’re targeting areas for improvement that will directly involve and affect certain departments and/or levels of the organization, you’ll need to include those leaders. For example, if you intend your mentoring program to focus on manufacturing, you probably won’t need the CFO or anyone else high up in Finance to be in the room when you pitch. On the other hand, if your focus is leadership development, you will need all of senior leadership.

The bottom line: all stakeholders need to be involved in the decision to move forward and should hear your pitch. However, the identity of those stakeholders shouldn’t change the facts in your pitch.


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