According to Wendy Murphy, associate dean of undergraduate academic programs and a professor of management at Babson College, successful mentoring programs have three key features in common:

  • A director or coordinator. This person can serve as “a trusted third party that’s helping facilitate the relationship, making sure that people have the resources that they need, and a trusted advisor should things go awry or challenges arise,” says Murphy.
  • Opportunities for participant input. Giving mentors and mentees some say in the matching process—for example, through an in-person networking night with a post-event survey, or a digital system where mentors and mentees rank their choices based on resumes and bios—“helps participants feel invested in the relationship,” explains Murphy.
  • An orientation. Kicking off the relationship with a training session for both mentors and mentees “enables people to all get on the same page so that the mentees and the mentors all understand the expectations,” Murphy says. It’s an opportunity for both parties to align on the duration of the relationship, how frequently they will meet, the content of those meetings, and the pair’s shared goals.

Provide mentors and mentees with this list of questions, taken from our playbook on managing a multigenerational workforce, to help them align during their first meeting:

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