why mentoring programs fail

Mentorship programs have been proven beneficial to all parties involved: the person doing the mentoring, the person being mentored, and the organisation they are part of. In fact, mentorships have taken the top spot in L&D program areas.

What do the studies say? 

Despite these numbers, plenty of mentoring programs miss the mark and fail. Even with the best intentions, a failed mentor-mentee relationship can lead to dissatisfaction with the entire experience. As a result, the potential benefits of mentoring get lost and leave all parties disconnected. 

In this article, let’s dive into why mentoring programs fail and what we can do to change things. 


5 Reasons Why Mentoring Platforms Fail

There are plenty of reasons why mentoring programs, especially those not utilizing the right mentoring platforms. Many mentoring programs will start off with strong drive and momentum, however without mentoring software support, the mentee-mentor relationships often fizzle out. 

Let’s take a look at five factors that contribute to the failure of a mentoring program:


Reason #1: Your Goals for a Successful Mentoring Program Are Unclear

Most of the time, people start a mentoring program without establishing clear goals. They fail to identify or communicate the program’s goals, which confuses potential participants as they don’t know what they’re signing up for.

If you are planning to set up a mentoring program, you need to clearly communicate your program goals from the get-go: what is the purpose of your mentoring program? What do you hope your cohorts will gain from it in the end? Is your mentoring program intended for learning and development, knowledge sharing, or retention?

Identifying your goals from the start will allow you to design an effective mentoring program that participants will want to join. Establishing clear goals is essential for a successful mentoring journey, guiding both mentors and mentees through the progression and development stages effectively.


Reason #2: Lack of Competence and Resources

An organisation’s senior managers and leaders are almost always assumed to make the best mentors. This is why some assign these roles to them without checking how competent they are or whether they have the motivation to be a mentor. In some cases, mentors are nominated to be mentors however they aren’t provided the resources or training they need to become effective mentors.

Inadequately prepared mentors and programs can lead to the failure of the program. Instead of helping the organisation, this can backfire and work against what the program was hoping to achieve in the first place.

Mentoring program coordinators must train and coach both mentors and mentees. Utilising mentoring software not only provides a comprehensive resource library but also enables mentors with the necessary tools, and training resources to make the program a success. When choosing mentoring software, ensure they have comprehensive bite-sized online e-learning that is suitable for the modern learner.

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Reason #3: Lack of Support from Senior Management

For the long-term success of any program in an organisation, it needs to gain support from senior management. Brancher’s most successful mentoring programs have a clear “program sponsor”. This sponsor is responsible for advocating for the program and opening key kick-off webinars or workshops. When a mentoring program doesn't get support from the top management, its importance can be overlooked and seen as a distraction from the real work that employees have to do.

When you're trying to get management to approve your proposed mentoring program, highlight how the organisation can benefit from it too. Use Brancher’s ROI calculator to determine the return on investment that your organisation can expect through increased employee engagement and retention. Look for other management members who have had a positive experience with mentoring and can attest to its success. This helps you get support in presenting your business case for the need for mentorship in the workplace.


Reason #4: Poorly Matched Mentors and Mentees in Mentoring Relationships

The success of a mentoring program depends on the relationship that a mentor and mentee can forge together. If the matches aren’t great from the start, it will directly impact the program’s success. This typically happens when the program coordinator is manually matching mentees with mentors. Even though you try to keep your biases in check, some mistakes can happen in matching mentors and mentees by picking out names in a hat or choosing someone from a more senior position.

Fortunately, there are tools that you can use to automate the matching process. Brancher uses a science-based matching algorithm to recommend the best possible matches using science and your unique matching criteria. Ensure that the mentoring software you choose takes personality and values into account when matching. These are the biggest predictors of “match chemistry” that will lead to successful mentoring relationships.

With Brancher’s mentoring software, you can match mentees and mentors with the click of a button. Mentees can also choose their own mentor, based on the algorithm’s recommendations which reduces bias and provides 90% matching satisfaction.

A robust mentoring system not only simplifies this process but also fosters the development of strong mentoring relationships, supporting various mentoring programs including one-on-one, group, and peer mentoring.


Reason #5: Poor Evaluation and Tracking of Mentoring Program Success 

A successful mentoring program requires continuous monitoring of relationship health, meeting frequency and satisfaction and overall program success. Some program coordinators measure the program’s success at the end via a survey. Waiting until the end of a program to measure success results means there is no time for course correction along the way. If mentoring relationships fade or don’t work out, it’s too late to address any issues. 

Mentoring administrators should have visibility over mentoring relationship success 24/7 throughout the life of the program. An online mentoring platform allows administrators with the ability to track success and proactively reach out to any pairs that might be ‘at risk’ or ‘off track’. Administrators can see how frequently pairs are meeting, how satisfied they are, whether they are achieving their goal and whether the program is on track to achieve organisational objectives (e.g. increased retention or engagement).


See Our Work in Action

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If you’re thinking about setting up a mentoring program for your organisation, reach out to Brancher today to book a demo. We’d love to help create a culture of mentoring at your organisation. Let our software and program management team do the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.



LinkedIn. (2023). 2023 Workplace Learning Report: Building the agile future. https://learning.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/learning/en-us/pdfs/workplace-learning-report/LinkedIn-Learning_Workplace-Learning-Report-2023-EN.pdf 

Laura Wronski, Jon Cohen. (2019, July 16). Nine in 10 workers who have a career mentor say they are happy in their jobs. SurveyMonkey, CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/16/nine-in-10-workers-who-have-a-mentor-say-they-are-happy-in-their-jobs.html 

Adobe. (2023, September 27). Adobe Future Workforce Study: What U.S. employers need to know about Gen Z in the workplace. https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2023/09/27/adobe-future-workforce-study-what-us-employers-need-know-about-gen-z-workplace 

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