M2.03. Analysing the conditions relevant to the mentoring process at the workplace

3. Organisational policies and procedures relevant to the mentoring process

One of the cornerstones of any mentoring program is a Policy and Procedure Manual that provides governance and guidance in the delivery of services defining policies, procedures, and responsibilities.
The mentoring program should have formal policies, procedures, and responsibilities in place to ensure the purpose and goals are met. At a minimum, policies and procedures should be established for the following aspects:
  • Duration of the mentoring relationships (i.e., 6 months, 1 year, etc.);
  • Matching rules (mentees to mentors);
  • Roles and responsibilities for program manager, mentors, mentees and other stakeholders;
  • Whether participation in mentoring program group activities is mandatory or optional;
  • Dealing with a Mentee-Mentor Mismatch;
  • Closure (of the mentoring relationships).
There are many important facets to administering a quality mentoring program and written policies and procedures can contribute greatly to the long-term stability and safety of the mentoring program by:
  • Providing documentation of the organization’s vision and operating principles. A policy and procedure manual provides a clear statement of the program’s mission, values, and vision and provides the framework that defines the mentoring program’s operating principles and processes.
  • Providing staff with clear guidelines on how to administer a program. A policy and procedure manual provides detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to administer the mentoring program and clearly defines staff roles, company’s expectations, and routine operating guidelines.
  • Addressing risk management issues. A policy and procedure manual is the cornerstone of the risk management plan because it provides clear and explicit instructions on how every part of your mentoring program will be administered. Developing a policy and procedure manual will help eliminate uncertainties concerning how to safely, effectively, and consistently run the mentoring program.
  • Ensuring consistent operations despite possible turnover in key staff. If policies and procedures are not documented, the organization risks losing crucial program operations knowledge if a key staff member leaves. By clearly detailing, in writing, how the mentoring program is run, it’s possible to minimize organizational knowledge loss and program disruption. A policy and procedure manual will help the program to maintain continuity of services and will assist the mentor in training new staff members.
  • Serving as a blueprint for program replication and expansion. A policy and procedure manual gives a consistent model for program expansion or replication.
  • Serving as a baseline for continuous improvement. Although developing the policy and procedure manual is hard work, this important task forces the organisation to examine its mentoring program and be honest about the structure of current program practices. Once written, the policy and procedure manual provides a concrete starting point that will allow continually improving and refining the mentoring program.

Policies are high-level program statements that embrace the goals of mentoring program and define what is acceptable to ensure program success and effective and consistent program operations. Policies are crucial to the mentoring program achieving its goals and are mostly developed for program practices that are mandatory and non-negotiable in nature. For example, a policy might address the level of screening all mentors must complete or whether your program allows interactions outside the context and working hours between mentors and mentees. Policies are typically approved and monitored by a board inside the human resource department of the company.

Procedures are statements that describe how a particular operational function is implemented and managed within the mentoring program. Procedures are brief statements that describe the step-by-step process necessary to implement policies and other organisation’s practices. Procedures often include who should carry out tasks and when those tasks are to be done. Examples of mentoring program procedures include the process for conducting background checks, the steps staff follow when matching a mentor and mentee, and the sequential process for closing a match between the mentor and mentee. Procedures are usually governed by the mentoring program coordinator or other staff but may also require executive director and/or board approval.