In this blog I will be discussing how to scale your mentoring programs to the next level and some of the barriers inhibiting scaling your mentoring.
Ask a typical school to rate how strong their mentoring program is.
The typical answer goes something like this:
“We have a world-class mentoring program.
We have been working on it for years and are rightly proud of our achievements.
Each mentee has individual attention from us. We can find the perfect match for them.
We are also able to track and monitor every step of the mentoring relationship.
We know when they meet, how often and for how long they meet.
We get amazing survey results from mentees and mentors alike.
And our repeat mentoring statistics are incredible.
In fact, our mentoring program is outstanding in every way possible except one metric.”
What is that ‘one metric’?
“The number of people in a mentoring relationship is tiny.”
In fact, as a percentage of the total student population, the number of mentoring relationships is embarrassingly small. Typically, well under 5% of students are in a mentoring relationship.
Education institutions are rightly proud of the quality of mentoring but when asked to aggressively expand the quantity of mentoring relationships, they find a much harder challenge. Short of hiring more people, how do you scale your mentoring?
Virtually every school, college and university are grappling with the same issue, “how do you scale your mentoring program”.
How do you get both quality and quantity when it comes to mentoring?
I believe there are two major barriers to achieving a mentoring program that can truly scale:
It is not humanly possible to continue to manually match mentees and mentors other than for the smallest, most exclusive programs.
Leveraging digital technology is the only way to bring mentoring to the masses so that you can scale.
While well intentioned, the expectation that each and every step of the mentoring relationship should be controlled and monitored is not feasible. The reality is that insisting that every step of the mentoring interactions take place on your digital platform is simply too restrictive for most mentors.
In short, scaling your mentoring program will come at two costs.
The first cost is the actual cost of acquiring the right digital mentoring technology. This is still far cheaper than increasing headcount but is still a significant cost.
The second cost is on control and quality. To achieve mentoring for the many, you will need to compromise on the level of control that you have over the mentoring relationships. This allows for mentoring that fits into the lives of your mentors and mentees, and not necessarily the approach that gives you the best data. This means allowing mentoring to take place outside of the narrow constraints of your mentoring platform. Your role is to facilitate mentoring for the many and not to stifle it. For example, you can keep control and quality through surveys and other feedback tools.
The price of scaling your mentoring is a price worth paying to bring mentoring to the many and not the few.
I would welcome your thoughts.