The Metrics of Mentoring

A company-wide mentoring program study was conducted in 2013 consisting of over 6,000 Sun employees for Sun Learning Services (SLS), the training organization within Sun Microsystems, and spanned seven years. All performance indicators such as employee retention, salary grade, and pay increases both for mentors and mentees showed that mentoring produced a positive impact. Retention among participants over non-participants translated into savings of $6.7 million dollars which far outweighed the $1.1 million program cost.

How to Determine Mentoring Program Costs

Program costs are one of the most obvious elements of calculating a mentoring program’s return on investment. To determine cost, one could use the formula of: (Rentention + Engagement and Advancement Performance)/Program Cost = Return on Investment. Mentoring and coaching programs should not only be preserved but improved as they are the most effective way to promote long-term learning. Seventy-one percent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring to their employees. Mentoring provides the focus on retaining critical talent. As a result, organizations will need to look at all dimensions and put more focus on engagement as a retention strategy. So we ask the question, could your company benefit from a million dollars in savings from your mentoring program?

How to Measure Mentoring Success

Once the organization’s goals are set, use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to specify measures of success. Setting KPIs for areas such as: participant acquisition, behavior within the program or outcomes at an organizational level determines cause-and-effect of mentoring success or failure. Once your KPI’s are identified, you will need specific ways to evaluate and ensure that the best practices in the organization are identified and expanded. Make sure resources are used efficiently and effectively. For example, the VA Office of Information and Technology’s (VA OI&T) mentoring program, which Coley & Associates, Inc. manages, tracks participant behavior. In order to accomplish their succession management goal, they request regularly monitoring the participants’ meeting schedule, participants’ success in setting and achieving goals, developing rapport with their mentoring partner, and their perceived value from the mentoring experience via periodic surveys. Other corporations and organizations, such as CIGNA Corporation and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, include metrics for event and education attendance, growth in certification programs, and service and benefit usage.

How Mentoring Re-energizes Your Employees

Most mentoring incentives and benefits are discussed from the mentee’s perspective. In 1995, a former VA Mentorship Program focusing on health information managers asked mentors for their feedback. The results showed that midcareer mentors were re-invigorated by the mentoring experience. One mentor shared, “I had to do some reviewing myself, as well as confer with the supervisors who work for me—it made a nice review for me.” Another mentor shared that, “It was nice to know I made a difference.”
Other work on the topic of mentoring outcomes cite that the second most frequently positive outcome for mentors is career satisfaction, motivation or promotion. Therefore, career enhancement from mentoring is not strictly for mentees. The promotion of loyalty, empathy or team spirit among employees brings improvements in office communications and relations. While mentors contribute to a mentee’s advancement through sponsorship, the next logical step is to ramp up employee engagement strategies by making all employees part of the decision-making process.

What Can be Achieved With a Good Mentoring Program?

Organizations commonly use mentoring to support highly engaged individuals who are being fast tracked into more senior leadership roles, particularly as it focuses on development of the whole person and has a broader scope than coaching. Engaged employees are more likely to support necessary organizational changes when they have a broad range of experiences and a goal of promotion.
A facilitated mentoring process results in:

  • Increased awareness for managers of employees’ caliber and core competencies, as well as the available talent pool
  • Higher ratings on evaluations of supervisors by direct reports
  • Increased number of cross-functional transfers
  • Increased skills by an average of 61 percent in 11 job-essential skill levels
  • Gains in 9 of 11 generic career and life-effectiveness skills after 13 months
  • Greater knowledge of the organization and other divisions within it
  • Increased retention of the best and brightest people

By understanding the impact and where to optimize metrics, your organization’s decision makers can make knowledgeable resolutions about where their investments will provide the greatest benefit. As businesses continue to change, it will be important for proactive companies to improve their diversity and harassment prevention training, develop translator resources and integrate cultural competence into their leadership and mentoring programs. Changes brought on by technology have a significant impact on the future workplace. Jobs that leverage human qualities, skills, and technology can continue to benefit from these documented metrics and see their employees become nurtured through prescribed mentoring solutions.

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