Elements of Good Program Operations

Building the Right Structure

The day-to-day procedures you establish for operating your mentoring program define the environment in which your program staff, mentors, mentees and other stakeholders work to build safe and effective mentoring relationships and a sustainable mentoring program. Your program operations must reflect and nurture the key characteristics of such relationships: consistency, compatibility, support and accountability.

From mentor recruitment to mentor/mentee matching, from orientation to relationship closure, participants should clearly understand what's expected of them and what they can expect from the program in terms of training and support.

The Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, Third Edition holds the key to success in producing high-quality relationships. The 2009 edition of the Elements provides six evidence-based standards for practice that incorporate the latest research and best available practice wisdom. These six operational standards address the critical dimensions of mentoring program outcomes. For each standard, there is a research-based benchmark for all programs to adhere to for quality mentoring programming. Further, for more advanced mentoring programs, there are suggested enhancements for your consideration, based on best practices from the mentoring field.

Operational Standards for Mentoring Programs

Standard 1. Recruitment: Recruit appropriate mentors and mentees by realistically describing the program’s aims and expected outcomes.

Standard 2. Screening: Screen prospective mentors to determine whether they have the time, commitment and personal qualities to be an effective mentor.

Standard 3. Training: Train prospective mentors in the basic knowledge and skills needed to build an effective mentoring relationship.

Standard 4. Matching: Match mentors and mentees along dimensions likely to increase the odds that mentoring relationships will endure.

Standard 5. Monitoring and Support: Monitor mentoring relationship milestones and support mentors with ongoing advice, problem-solving support and training opportunities for the duration of the relationship.

Standard 6. Closure: Facilitate bringing the match to closure in a way that affirms the contributions of both the mentor and the mentee and offers both individuals the opportunity to assess the experience.

For additional information on the benchmarks and suggested enhancements for each of the six operational standards, download a copy of the Elements and check out the Start a Program/Managing Mentors section of Mentoring.org.

For detailed information on how to effectively operate your mentoring program, check out the following resources: