Research-based standards serve as the “yardstick” for excellent, effective practice. That the IMA standards are research-based means that you can plan or evaluate your practices based on them, and that you can count on them leading you toward the results that you seek. Below are the IMA Mentoring PROGRAM Standards which are designed to guide practice at the program level. Over time the IMA will also publish mentoring standards for mentor practice and mentor program leadership practice.

We owe a great “Thanks” to Linelle Sharrard and Joe Allred who developed these IMA standards and the IMA accreditation process based on them.

The IMA Mentoring Program Standards

Standard I: Clear Vision of Program Scope

Program goals and design reflect an understanding of research on the unique strengths and needs of individuals as they develop over time. Include appropriate support activities, professional development, resources, and assessment practices designed to effectively meet the needs of mentee, mentors, leaders and supervisors and other support providers.  Program goals are explicitly linked to improving the needs of the mentored employee in meeting the expectations of the organization.

Indicators for Quality Program Development Potential Sources of Evidence
I-1. The program design is based upon research in employee induction and development and effective mentoring practices.

  • A sound, well-articulated rationale grounded in research and effective practices guides the development of program goals and plans for the design and delivery support and assessment services for the mentee.
  • The developmental needs of the mentee are clearly understood by program designers and managers.
  • Action and implementation plans for mentoring program
  • Documentation of program design for identifying strengths and needs of mentee
  • Strategies for promoting mentored employee development
  • Self-evaluations of strengths and needs
  • List of program goals
I-2. The program expectations are clearly defined.

  • The program design includes learning outcomes for participants (mentees, mentors and leadership) with clearly designed participant expectations for development.
  • The program design involves a planned progress for program orientation for all participants and ongoing feedback on progress toward program completion.
  • Strategies for promoting individuals’ development
  • Mentee milestones
  • Program goals
  • Assessment activities
  • Formative and summative evaluations
I-3. The program scope and size is carefully defined.

  • The program has sufficient staff and secured resources to design, implement and sustain activities listed under program design.
  • The program leaders monitor resource allocation on a regular basis and make appropriate adjustments.
  • Timely communication between program leaders, mentors and other stakeholders is conducted to ensure effective use of resources.
  • Staffing chart and time allocation
  • Job descriptions and postings
  • Collective bargaining agreement language pertaining to mentoring
  • Annual mentoring budget
  • Financial records
  • Grant awards that support mentoring
  • Schedules
  • Memos, meeting minutes
  • Training provisions
I-4. The program design provides effective communication between and among program participants and partners.

  • Coordination and articulation among all entities establishes clear and appropriate allocation of authority and initiative.
  • Sponsoring organizations demonstrate institutional commitment to the mentor program.
  • Opportunities for communication and feedback are assured among sponsoring agencies.
  • Formal and informal linkages are made internally among members of the partnership.
  • Added assistance documents
  • Assessment activities
  • Flyers
  • Handbooks
  • Journals/logs
  • Meeting minutes
  • Newsletters
  • Professional development support
  • Program evaluations
  • Program guidelines
  • Websites, list serves
  • Partnership agreements
  • Evidence of collaboration with partners
I-5.  The program design includes high quality mentor selection, training, assessment/evaluation and ongoing support in a mentor learning community.
  • Mentor selection criteria
  • Team meeting notes
  • Training agendas
  • Assessment/evaluation systems/documents
I-6.   The program design defines essential activities including formative assessment, written documentation of mentee/mentor work, analysis of work, and professional development for all stakeholders.
  • Assessment activities and forms
  • Designated artifacts
  • Training schedules and/or agendas
I-7.  The program has a code of conduct that ensures professionalism, confidentiality and ethical behavior.
  • Commitment/confidentiality support agreements

Standard II:  Clear Roles and Responsibilities for Leadership

The leadership program has an administrative structure with specified leaders who plan, implement, evaluate and refine the program through data analysis, program evaluation, and stakeholder communication. Leadership focuses on allocation of sufficient resources, facilitation of professional development, program oversight and evaluation, as well as ensuring effective communication of services and among stakeholders.

Indicators for Quality Program Development Potential Sources of Evidence
II-1. The program responsibilities for planning, operation and oversight are clearly defined and program leadership is designated.

  • The benefits to and responsibilities of stakeholders are defined.
  • Program organizational flow chart designating leadership and responsibilities
  • Job descriptions
  • Handbooks
II-2. The program allocates adequate time, fiscal resources, and appropriate authority to program leadership, which include a team of stakeholders that provides support and oversight.
  • Schedules
  • Agendas
  • Budgets
  • Leadership team list
II-3. The program leaders participate in on-going professional development to acquire the depth of knowledge and understanding necessary to develop, implement, and support the program.  A professional learning community specifically for program leadership is established.

  • Supervisors are knowledgeable and understand appropriate induction professional development and are an integral part of program operation.
  • Supervisors collaborate with program leadership to overcome challenging aspects of mentee working environment and other operational and logistical barriers.
  • Supervisors understand the role of other support team members and respect the confidentiality between team members.
  • Certificate of completion
  • Program handbook
  • Antidotal notes
  • Schedules
  • Agendas and meeting minutes

Standard III: Mentoring Selection and Assignment

Mentors are recruited, selected, and assigned using a comprehensive strategy that includes a clearly articulated, open process and specific criteria that are developed by and communicated to all stakeholder groups.

Indicators for Quality Program Development Potential Sources of Evidence
III-1. The program has a mentor selection process that is based upon written criteria which include, but are not limited to demonstrate:

  • Ability to work with adults (strong intra- and inter-personal skills including self –reflection of practice)
    • Commitment to participate in all activities outlined in the program
    • Commitment to the organizational community
    • Experience and knowledge
    • Professional growth
  • Application from potential mentors
  • Data verifying that the established criteria were used to select and screen potential mentors
  • Documentation of the selection process
  • Written selection criteria
III-2. The program includes criteria and a clearly delineated process for successfully matching mentors and mentees.

  • Roles and responsibilities of mentors are clearly defined and communicated to all program participants.
  • Selection criteria are consistent with mentors’ specified roles and responsibilities.
  • Selection process includes a written application and formal interview, guided by a set of criteria.
  • Documentation of the matching process
  • Feedback from mentor/mentees regarding the effectiveness of the match
  • List of matched mentor/mentee pairs
  • Matching criteria
  • Selection rubric
  • Policies governing problems that might arise in the mentoring relationship, e.g. dispute resolutions, ethical concerns, etc.
III-3. The program has defined a process to address changes or necessary adjustments in the mentor/mentee matches.

  • Mismatch policy and procedures are clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders.
  • Concerns regarding matches are responded to in a timely manner.
  • Mismatch policy
  • Procedures that addresses challenging matches

Standard IV: Mentor Professional Development

Mentor professional development provides a formal orientation and foundational mentor training before beginning work and continues over the course of the mentors’ work. Mentors have time, supported by the program, to engage in the mentor learning community and are consistently supported in the efforts.

Indicators for Quality Program Development Potential Sources of Evidence
IV-1. Mentors participate in initial, quality training and includes, but is not limited to:

  • Adult learning
  • Reflective questioning/Cognitive Coaching
  • Role and responsibilities of the mentor
  • Assessment activities and setting expectations
  • Stages of development
  • Trust and confidentiality
  • Program expectations
  • Attendance forms
  • Participant evaluation of training
  • Registration forms
  • Training materials
  • Schedule of training offerings
IV-2. The program provides ongoing training for mentors which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Supporting mentors to learn about and become confident in meeting the diverse needs of the mentee.
  • Appropriate use of formative assessment tools and processes.
  • Advanced training in pedagogical approaches if appropriate to circumstances
  • Advanced technical training if appropriate to circumstances
  • Attendance forms
  • Participant evaluation of training
  • Registration forms
  • Training materials
  • Schedule of training offerings
  • Mentor logs
  • Self-assessments
  • Activity log
IV-3. The program structures adequate time and opportunities for mentors and mentees to engage in meaningful:

  • Regularly scheduled mentor/mentee network sessions
  • Conferencing
  • Observations
  • Shared professional development
  • Attendance forms
  • Participant evaluation of professional development
  • Professional development activities and materials
  • Documentation of mentor/mentee contact, such as calendars, journals, schedules
  • Evidence of formative assessments







Standard V:  Formative Assessment

The formative assessment process provides a framework for the purposes of demonstrating mentee growth and progress, and engages the mentor/mentee in an ongoing reflective process.

Indicators for Quality Program Development Potential Sources of Evidence
V-1. The program formative information is used to determine the scope, focus, and content of the professional development activities that are the basis for the mentees’ self-assessment and development of an individual professional learning plan.

  • Mentors are prepared to integrate support and assessment strategies within the context of mentoring.
  • Assessment information contributes to the development of a mentees’ professional learning plan.
  • Formative assessment results are used to guide professional development.
  • Needs assessment forms
  • Professional learning plans
  • Mentor training on formative assessments and support
V-2. The program utilizes multiple measures of formative assessments to identify individual mentee needs and guide support.
  • Self-assessment data
  • Mentor observation notes
  • Analysis of work performance and assessment data
  • Reflection logs
  • Other artifacts as deemed appropriate
V-3. The program utilizes appropriate documentation to illustrate the use of formative assessment.
  • Data collection forms and processes such as mentor observation data, performance data, checklists
  • Data summaries and analysis
V-4. The program has established milestone criteria for development and the use of formative assessment allowing the mentee and mentor to set clear goals for improving the mentee’s level of proficiency.
  • Milestone criteria
  • Self-assessments
  • Data summaries and analysis
  • Professional learning plans
V-5. The program formative assessment and the accompanying documentation guide the mentoring and professional development and are not used for evaluation/employment decisions.
  • Assessment forms
  • Data collection forms, analysis and summaries






Standard VI: Program Evaluation

The Program uses a comprehensive, ongoing system of program development and evaluation that involves all program participants and other stakeholders.

Indicators for Quality Program Development Potential Sources of Evidence
VI-1. The program annual evaluation is designed to provide information for setting goals and ongoing program improvement.

  • Regular collection and reflection of feedback about program quality and effectiveness from all participants is done using formal and informal measures.
  • Program leaders analyze multiple sources of data and shares data in a systematic way to all stakeholders, and use the data for program improvement.
  • The program provides for mentor accountability in a supportive environment through a defined process of communication and documentation.
  • Program stakeholders participate in external reviews designed to examine program quality and effectiveness.
  • Evaluation tools
  • Links between the evaluation and assessments and standards
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Evaluation summary
  • Action Plans
  • Handbook revision
  • Leadership minutes
  • Program improvement plans