One of my favourite Seinfeld episodes is the one entitled “The Protoge”. George REALLY wanted to have a protoge for the status it would bring him (and someone to pick up his drycleaning!) It was around a type of mentoring that didn’t work because the expectations were not realistic. While this was pure comedy, the principle rang true. The right match and the right expectations are critical for a successful mentoring relationship.


Mentors & Mentees

Shelley Brown

Formal mentoring programs will match a “rising star” with an experienced, successful executive with the objective of the mentor passing along experience, knowledge, and guidance to the younger employee. Perhaps even acting as a champion for his/her career, helping him/her to get visibility within the organization and giving him/her access to special projects and teams. This is the ideal situation.

Here are some reasons why mentoring programs fail:

  1. Mentor and Mentee are paired for the wrong reasons
  2. No training is given to either party to clarify the process or their individual roles
  3. Expectations on either side are not fully articulated
  4. Lack of accountability for the success or failure of the mentoring relationship
  5. Lack of integration with the larger talent management strategy

Mentors and Mentees must be paired together based on specific criteria – the two most important being the Mentee’s career aspirations and the willingness / commitment of the Mentor. Once paired, a schedule of meetings with specific outcomes is determined. The first meeting should be a discussion of personality type, communication and work styles (ideally utilizing a psychometric tool like the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator). Both parties agree on the structure, format, frequency and content of the meetings and commit to a schedule.

A successful mentoring relationship can be extremely fulfilling for both parties and will be remembered for years to come.


Let Bromelin work with you to set up your internal mentoring program to develop your key talent and get tangible, measurable results.  Let me help you make your organization an employer of choice!

Shelley Brown
Bromelin People Practices