Standards – Program Governance

Proposed Standards for Mentor Program Governance

© 2003, by Barry Sweeny


By “governance” what I mean is the ultimate authority for decisions and the success of a program. In many organizations that role is or should be filled by a governing “Council”, advisory board, or Board of Directors. In this case I will use the term “Council” for that group.

If an “advisory” role is chosen for your program governance, that would move the ultimate responsibility from that group and place it elsewhere, likely with a Program Director.  Such a shift would also necessitate revision of some of the items below to a more advisory approach.

  • Programs should be led by a Council representing all stake holder groups,
    including proteges, mentors, department, site, and corporate managers, staff
    development/training or organization development, and/or knowledge management leader, an employees’ union representative, and possibly, a human resources manager. The Program Director is an ex officio member with no voting powers.
  • The Council should be led by a President or Board Chair.
  • The Council should be well-read in the research, theoretical literature, and best practices in mentoring.
  • The Council should define and periodically refine the program’s purpose, goals, set strategic direction and policy, and should supervise the Program Director for the coordination of the program according to these policies.
  • Council members should attend at least one initial mentor training, new employee orientation, protege support activity, and mentor support group meeting (assuming the program has these components).
  • The Mentor Program Coordinator should continually monitor the progress of
    the program, the program budget, and of personnel in the program, and should
    periodically report on these to the Council. Frequency of these reports is determined by the Council. These reports shall be of a summary nature to respect
    the confidentiality of individual mentoring pairs.
  • The Council should continually monitor the progress of the program and of
    personnel in the program, and should periodically direct adjustment of the
    program to improve its effectiveness and attainment of it’s goals and purpose.
  • The Council should mentor the Mentor Program Director so as to support and
    improve the coordination of the program.
  • The Council may employ any consultants and/or trainers deemed necessary
    to build the capacity and support the professional development of program
  • The Council should seek to model in their own work as a Council the very concepts and skills that mentors are trained to use in mentoring, so that Council members personally experience and understand what they ask mentors to do.
  • Every Council member will act as a spokesperson and advocate for the program
    with the organization’s key decision makers so as to ensure continued understanding of the program’s functions, impact, and value to personnel and the organization.