Mentoring programmes: What works

“From small acorns grow mighty oaks” — Helmut Postels via Wikimedia Commons

“There is an old adage that people join an organisation and leave a boss.”

This is as true in the world of business as it is in the criminal justice world.

How do you grow mentoring programs?

The successful mentoring programs we’ve seen started small, delivered well, and then grew. They have focused on quality and stickiness of relationships: analyzing successes, and replicating aspects of those as far as possible. They have scaled once they had some successes to show.

  • Start with a small set of committed mentors: quality before quantity
  • Identify mentees who are clear about what they want from a mentoring relationship and are equally committed
  • Create a process to help match and connect mentors with mentees
  • Consider both one-on-one mentoring and other formats, such as one mentor and a group of mentees, or even a group of mentors meeting with a group of mentees.
  • Track mentoring interactions, developing a mentoring relationship takes effort
  • Decide how to ensure quality, and what to do when relationships drift



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Jon Huggett

Jon Huggett


Board chair, global advisor and former Partner at both Bain and Bridgespan. @jonhuggett