The Missing Piece of Mentoring Success?

Written by
Chris Browning

Successful Mentoring Programs

MobilizeIn my recent blog entry, Mentoring Is More than the Match, I described the “Five M’s of Successful Mentoring” model that we advocate here at River (market, match, monitor, motivate, and measure). It’s a solid strategy and I’m proud of the piece I wrote, but in collaborative conversations with Laura Francis, River’s Director of Marketing, we began to debate if there is a sixth M that is missing from this model: Mobilize.

While I think the concept of Mobilize has a level of alignment to the first M, Market, I do see them as different. For context, here is what I originally wrote about “Market”:

With the ability for mentoring to positively influence a variety of development processes (e.g., leadership development, HIPO, on-boarding), it is not a one-size-fits-all type of process. As such, program administrators need to give careful consideration to the type of messaging they use when marketing to and recruiting participants to their specific programs. Our clients with successful programs spend time considering the WIIFM (What’s in It for Me) messaging that will maximize participation, and they put effort into developing customized messaging to each audience, as appropriate.

What, then, is mobilize? One definition (credit to Merriam-Webster) is: to bring (people) together for action. I like this definition; it’s simple and to the point. It also encompasses the concepts behind the potential need for a sixth M, and why Marketing, while an important M, doesn’t cover it.

To make a mentoring program successful, an organization absolutely needs to effectively market to the different user groups, creating the right message for each audience, a message that needs to help convince people to participate and can sometimes differ significantly for each such audience.

Team working togetherMobilize goes beyond that. To mobilize effectively is to consider all the various stakeholder groups (some of which may also end up being users, but not necessarily), and to bring those stakeholders together with the intent to act. Who are some of those stakeholder groups, and how would they mobilize? Here is a sampling:

  • Executive Sponsors – These are the individuals who have the proper level of budgetary authority and/or influence to say “Yea” or “Nay.” Executive sponsors should be mobilized to contribute to program success by: participating in program strategy discussions, advocating for the program among their peers, removing barriers to program success, securing future budget commitment, etc.
  • Program Owners/Administrators – These are the individuals who will be responsible for weaving mentoring into the fabric of existing learning, talent, and/or D&I programs. Program owners should be mobilized to design programs and related plans, including: launch plans, risk mitigation strategies, marketing and communication approaches, measurement plans, etc.
  • IT – These individuals are the ones who will play a key role in approving the use of a mentoring software solution and/or in connecting that solution to other platforms. IT resources should be mobilized to: approve mentoring software vendor security policies, integrate the mentoring software with other systems (e.g., via data push and Single Sign-on), etc.
  • Procurement/Legal – These are the folks who will be responsible for procuring and contracting around a mentoring software solution. Such resources should be mobilized to: evaluate vendors, draft and review agreements, negotiate terms, generate purchase orders, process invoices, etc.

It seems clear to me that Mobilize is a unique factor in mentoring success, one that cannot be wrapped into one of the other five areas. It is a concept that stands on its own and provides a distinct result beyond just marketing the mentoring program to users. So it seems there are really six M’s we should leverage as we push for mentoring success.

With the above as context, I would be interested to know what you think: Should there be a sixth M added to the “Five M’s of Successful Mentoring” model? Share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Related Resources

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