Organizational Needs

Assessing and Addressing Your Organization’s Needs


THE KEY QUESTIONS for this section

  • What organizational needs are there which are appropriate for the mentoring program to address?
  • What organizational needs are there which programs other than mentoring should address?
  • What calendar issues and events should be considered when planning a mentoring program?
  • What are the needs of supervisors and other relative to our mentoring?
  • What should mentoring look like given these needs?


Mentoring programs which do needs assessments, typically assess the needs of proteges, or perhaps even the mentors. That IS a critical place to START. However, expert experience has shown that the mentoring program must be perceived as “Worth it” by decision makers in the organization if it to be sustainable.

That means that your needs assessment must also address valued organizational needs such as:

  • Increased RETENTION of new employees and the associate cost savings
  • Bringing new employees “up to speed” with veteran employees regarding KNOWLEDGE OF and COMMITMENT to organizational mission, initiatives, and expectations
  • Accelerated “LEARNING curves” for new employees
  • Improved job PERFORMANCE of both the proteges and their mentors
  • Increased PRODUCTIVITY and “bottom line” RESULTS for which the organization is accountable.

Assessing these “needs” will likely be a research and discussion process focused on collecting data that already exists, such as in a personnel or HR office, as well as development of ways to assess NEW indicators. Assessing these organizational needs may become a considerable task taking extensive time the FIRST time, but over time the task will become much simpler and faster, and the value of these data will become immeasurable for your program’s success. This is so because the organizational needs are probably much more important to decision makers than is the development of persons. A sad but true reality, so don’t ignore it.

The Work Flow – Schedule and Deadlines Create Needs

New proteges may not know there are things looming ahead that they really need to know, so someone who wants them to meet that deadline or do that task well needs to tell them.

Mentors, will all know of these things the protege does not, but typically, these deadlines and tasks are so routine, so common place, that mentors may not even rem,ember that their proteges don’t know that stuff.

The program therefore, needs to have checklists, monthly mentor reminder “agendas” and other means of making sure that these things are not missed – they can become a big deal if they are not handled well. Assessing the extent to which these needs are defined and understood is the point here. If asked, mentors will say, “of course”, but still forget to DO it. The point is to build the list of the deadlines and such things. Check with or assess managers’ knowledge of these issues, Get a focus group of mentors together to add to and check the list. Finally, figure out specifically how these needs will best be met and help mentors remember and understand that.

Organization Priorities and Initiatives

Your program has (or WILL have) a purpose which relates to your organizations’ priorities and initiatives. It also has (or WILL have) program goals, which relate to what the mentoring program will uniquely contribute to accomplish the organization’s purpose. These are the reasons your program exists and currently has support. If you want to have the support needed to sustain your program long-term, you’ll need to design your mentoring program so it meets it’s goals – that is, so it meets the needs of the organization that supports it.

Assessing these needs is the issue here. That may require an interview or three of key executives, department leaders, or such people, to be sure that:

  1. YOU know what they consider critical for THEIR success, and then think about how mentoring can address those things.
  2. THEY know that YOU know and intend to address what they care about. That’s how to get initial support from these folks. DELIVERING on these needs is how to KEEP their support.

The Needs of Supervisors and Colleagues

Supervisors and others are not participants in your program. However, they have issues that overlap into your area. Supervisors care about and are responsible for the success of your proteges. Don’t keep supervisors in the dark. Sure, mentoring MUST be kept confidential, but for supervisors to understand WHY that’s needed is your issue. Conduct an informational training for all supervisors who have proteges in your program. Help them understand what mentors can and cannot discuss. Help them understand that if they have a “need to know”, that all that’s needed is a THREE way meeting with the mentoring pair, rather than exclusing the protege and making them concerned.

A similar process may be needed for colleagues who are not (yet?) program participants. Build their understanding of what you are doing and give them reasons for why they should encourage and support it. let them know that their desire to help others is WELCOME and that “it takes a village” and that INformal mentoring, a mentoring culture is the long-tem goal of the program. If you do not make this effort, and do so early in the life of your program (MAKE the time) these folks can not only misunderstand what you are trying to do, they can feel excluded, resentful, and even sabotage your efforts. Get enough of these unhappy folks against you and YOUR program wil, be in deep trouble, even at-risk of death.