Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mentoring Problem #5: External Pressures Are Threatening Our Funding

There are always reasons for your mentoring program to be cut, or never take off at all. I’m not saying they’re good reasons, because most of the time they’re not.

For example:

  1. The economy
  2. Budget cuts
  3. Organizational issues (such as layoffs, mergers/acquisitions, or organizational restructuring)
They’re all interrelated, and all come down to one thing – your organization is short on the money it needs to fund all of its activities, including yours. Some things will get cut, and some won’t.

The sad fact is that training and development is often the first thing to go when budget cuts come around, so it’s a very legitimate mentoring problem, and a very legitimate fear to have.

Mentoring Problems and Working Around Them

There’s a pretty funny series of ads by DirectTV that follows a cable subscriber through an unfortunate series of events that end disastrously – all because they made the wrong decision and didn’t know it.

If we’re talking about a (reasonable) series of unfortunate events that could happen to you and your mentoring program, you know that your potential disaster is your funding being cut. Every other possible disaster, including those related to recruiting mentoring participants or educating them as to their roles, is just a prelude to this one.

Maybe you won’t be body slammed by a lowland gorilla – but the end result of failing to plan from the beginning still won’t be pretty:

When you don’t plan your mentoring program, you don’t build measurements into your mentoring program.

When you don’t build measurements into your mentoring program, you can’t prove ROI.

When you can’t prove ROI, you can’t make the case to keep your funding. 

When you can’t make the case to keep your funding, your program gets cut.

Don’t let your mentoring program get cut. Plan your mentoring program today.

Fight Against Mentoring Problems You Can't Affect

Your step by step guide to keep this series of unfortunate events from ever happening is as follows:

  1. Ensure that all stakeholders take your mentoring program seriously by planning and presenting it as a business strategy from the get-go. 
  2. Build measurements into your mentoring program before implementation.
  3. Record the appropriate data during the program using mentoring software.
  4. Prove your mentoring program’s success and ROI.
  5. Make the case to keep your funding.
  6. Don’t get cut.

But How Do I Measure Mentoring?

If you’ve been following this blog series, you know that we’ve had four blogs just dedicated to Step #1, when this blog is the last of the series. (You can find links to the others at the bottom of this post.)

“Why the disproportionate emphasis on presenting mentoring as a business strategy?” you may be wondering. “And what does any of this have to do with how I can measure mentoring when that’s all I really want to know?”

The answer to both: It’s not disproportionate at all, since Step #1 is the foundation of Steps #2-6.

Most organizations that don’t measure mentoring quantitatively decide to measure it qualitatively at the end instead – mostly because it’s very easy to get qualitative data from program participants. Did they like it? Did they get along with their mentor? Do they feel like they learned what they set out and agreed to learn?

And with this method, sure, you can learn what they believe and feel about how they came out of the mentoring program - but that has absolutely no bearing on the strategy or success of your organization. There’s no way of knowing if these participants have made any developmental progress from an L&D standpoint, and there’s no way to show senior management or leadership what the objective organizational impact is, let alone why the organization should continue to invest in your mentoring program.

And that is a mentoring problem.

Good Reasons for Your Mentoring Program to Be Cut Do Not Include…

The national and/or world economy is not a good enough reason for your program to be cut. Budget cuts are not a good enough reason for your program to be cut. Organizational issues certainly aren’t a good enough reason for your program to be cut.


Because when money is tighter, and the organization has restructured, downsized, or merged, talent needs to stretch as far as it can. That takes development and investment, yes – but if you do it the right way, it will absolutely pay off.

But I don’t have to tell you this, because you already know it. Just make sure that you have the right tools to help you convince the right people when push comes to shove.

Judy Corner is an expert in mentoring training and program planning. Her previous posts in this series include:


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