The role of the Programme Manager in running an Effective Mentoring Programme

The role of the Programme Manager in running an Effective Mentoring Programme - Blog Image

The goal of every business is to deliver business results. For the longest time, the focus has been on role-based training to drive performance. However, with all the challenges facing the modern business, this model has inadequately and insufficiently addressed the challenges. Global employee engagement has seen a decrease from 22% to 20%, while workers’ daily stress levels rose from 38% to 43% (State of Global Workplace Report 2021, Gallup). The onus has been on leadership and management teams to get engagement, productivity and retention levels up as well as reduce stress within their workplaces. It is for this reason that mentoring programmes have been growing in popularity with more and more corporates and support organisations offering mentoring to their teams and members. The impact data speaks for itself. Research has shown that mentoring accelerates the learning process and elevates higher education beyond technical expertise. 

While the intent is clear, effective mentoring programme doesn’t just happen. Mentoring programmes need intentional planning and execution so that they do not fail. There is need for someone to take the lead and steer the programme to success. 

Who is a mentoring programme manager? 

A mentoring programme manager is the individual(s) appointed to coordinate the mentoring programme and is responsible for ensuring its integrity to the end. They are the go-to person for matters related to the programme, mentors and mentees – monitoring their learning and growth, managing risks, issues and interdependencies.  

What does a programme manager do? 

The role of a programme manager may vary depending on the structure of the programme, or the resources available to the programme.  Generally speaking, their role includes but is not limited to: 

  • Agreeing on the objectives of the programme with human resource or senior management teams and ensure on internal buy-in. 
  • Designing the mentoring programme (structure, length, activities…)  
  • Setting up monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks  
  • Defining the profiles and recruitment criteria for the mentors and mentees. Examples of criteria may include: Experience levels, working sectors or industries, gender, age etc. 
  • Promoting the mentoring programme  
  • Selecting or organising a selection committee to choose the best candidates for the programme (This may or may not apply depending on the design of the mentoring programme)  
  • Organising and ensuring that the mentors and mentees are adequately prepared for the mentoring programme. The preparation of mentors and mentees calls for specialised training of which the programme manager may not have the right skills-set to deliver. For this reason, they may need to outsource the mentor/mentee preparation training.  
  • Organising the mentor and mentee matching process  
  • Monitoring the mentor-mentee pairs or groups to ensure participants’ commitment and engagement to the mentoring process. 
  • Providing guidance and support in case of issues and challenges during the course of the mentoring programme. The mentoring programme manager will serve as the point of contact for programme participants.
  • Coordinating on-going support activities such as sending out relevant resources to mentors and mentees, organising activities throughout the programme, checking-in regularly with participants etc. 
  • Ensuring that confidentiality is respected in the mentoring programme. A successful mentoring programme relies on participants being able to open up and share their challenges and experiences. In a corporate mentoring programme where a senior manager is mentoring a junior employee for example, the information shared during the mentoring session should not be taken and used during employee evaluations, or shared with other team members.  
  • Analysing and reporting the programme’s impact  
  • Collating feedback to improve the existing programme and/or future programmes 

At the end of the day, the mentoring programme manager covers the whole spectrum of the programme, their role is crucial at every step of the way if the mentoring is to be effective. 

Which skills should a mentoring programme manager have? 

Besides having knowledge on what mentoring is and the best practices around this subject matter, the mentoring programme manager needs to have the right skills and competences to carry out their roles. These include: 

Project management/organisation skills to coordinate all the activities and tasks involved in setting up and implementing a mentoring programme.  

Needs assessment skills to be able to link the programme’s objectives to the participants’ needs and adjust the programme accordingly to meet upcoming needs.  

Communication skills to become a mentoring ambassador and communicate articulately about the benefits of mentoring to promote the programme and convince participants to actively engage.