Establishing a Mentorship Program. Part 3

posted December 16th, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

Critical Success Factors


I asked Nancy to describe the critical success factors for establishing a formal mentoring program. She said: “You have to have a commitment on the part of both parties to take the relationship seriously enough that you ensure that you both meet for your appointed lunches or coffees or whatever it is. We get feedback every year from mentors and mentees to see how the program worked for them and the overwhelming majority of matches work really well.  However, there have been a few mentorship relationships that have not worked well. In one case, one of the mentees clearly was only interested in job finding and once she realized her mentor could not help her do that she never contacted her again, and in another a mentor didn’t take the commitment seriously enough and kept cancelling meetings.  One of the success factors is being committed to doing it like it’s a job, even though it’s a volunteer commitment. The other key factor is having goals and milestones so that when you get together you focus on whether the goals are being met.  The Toronto CREW program has been successful because of the dedication of the committee, the participants and the program structure.


I asked Nancy to tell me what she is proudest about in terms of these programs and mentoring in general. She said: “I’m proud of the great program we developed given the size of our organization, and given we’re a volunteer organization.  This year, we had 19 mentors out of an organization that has 180 members.  That’s a really great ratio of members that are involved in this.  So I’m proud of us as an organization for doing this.”


Nancy continued: “I wish I could look into the future 10 or 15 years and see whether these programs will really have an effect.  I believe they will – they have to.  Whether these women leave commercial real estate and do something else or not, I can’t help but think that having had this relationship with a mentor will have a profound impact on them.  The other thing that is incredibly gratifying is how much the mentors have gotten out of mentoring.  In the first year of the program, one of the mentors told me how much she enjoyed not just the mentee she was working with but how much she learned about a different generation. She said listening to her mentee talk about the issues she’s faced with and her approach to problems was unbelievably helpful in understanding her daughter.


I asked Nancy what advice she would offer a young woman who finds herself in need of a mentor. She said: “Most of the women in our program have found the program through word of mouth. They heard about it from other young women or Toronto CREW members within their companies, but I’ve also heard of some finding it by going on the internet. There are mentorship programs within companies and some university graduate programs offer them too. The other thing you can do is look for informal mentors – people that you a have a rapport with, someone more senior with more experience – I have found you can  always learn from these people.  I know in the early days of my career, I was never part of a formal mentorship relationship but I certainly took advantage of the people around me that were willing to give me their time. I listened to them and tried to learn from them and got them to try to help me figure out what it was that I needed to do next. I still have mentors – we can all use them no matter how senior we are.”


I asked Nancy what is was about mentoring that makes it most satisfying for her. She said: “For me it’s about helping more women succeed in business. I really feel strongly that we need to get and keep more women in business.”


What Strikes Me?

Giving back is very rewarding


Mentors get as much out of the mentoring relationship as mentees


Starting something from scratch and seeing it grow and prosper is profoundly rewarding


An organization doesn’t have to be large to make a significant contribution to its community


What Strikes You?


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