Tips for Measuring & Evaluating Mentoring Program Success


To harness ongoing support for your program, measuring mentoring success is key. Conducting a top-down goal analysis should include organizational objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), targets, and segments.

First, consider your mentoring initiative in the context of a higher-level business need. Next, set realistic KPIs and targets. Finally, elaborate on your strategy with segments and specific measurement tactics. Watch our quick video to learn more:

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The high-level objective is the “big picture” that answers the question, “Why does this initiative exist?” Likely mentoring will be just one of several strategies to achieve an organizational objective. Here are a few objectives and their common corresponding mentoring initiatives:

Measuring Mentoring Success Table 1

Key Performance Indicators

Once you’ve derived a general concept of an initiative to attain your organizational objective, use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to specify measures of success. Consider setting KPIs that look at several areas:

  • Acquisition of participants
  • Behavior within the program
  • Outcomes at an organizational level

This will help you determine cause-and-effect of mentoring successes or failures. For example, if you know employee satisfaction is high among those who have completed a partnership, but membership in the program is dismal, then membership is the dial you will need to turn in order to achieve the high-level objective. The table below provides some examples.

Measuring Mentoring Success Table 2

Targets & Segments

measure success whiteboard

Once your KPIs are clear, make your success metrics bounded and specific by establishing targets and segments. Targets are measures of success, and segments are the populations, behaviors, or outcomes to analyze against your target. Through this process, you will turn high-level objectives into SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Below is an example of what a complete, SMART mentoring business analysis might look like:

Measuring Mentoring Success Table 3
A good practice is to measure improvement for a specific segment against an organizational baseline or another segment. Groups to compare against each other may include:

  • Employees who were not in the mentoring program
  • Employees who participated in the program but did not set goals
  • Employees who participated in the program and set specific goals
Practical Ways to Measure Key Performance Indicators

Once you know what to measure, you will need specific ways to evaluate mentoring. Engage stakeholders in a conversation about how to capture meaningful metrics. For KPIs that track acquisition and behavior, such as program participation and completion, look at user workflows and segments. Acquisition might look at what percentage of eligible users actually got matched. Behavior might track whether they set goals, achieved goals, met regularly, developed a rapport, or perceived value from the experience.

Tip: If a metric relies on reported behavior, you will need incentives in order to get an accurate measurement. The best incentives are built into your culture & expectations. For example, tie mentoring into improvement plans, leadership programs, or promotion requirements – then make certain activities or check-ins required for credit for these programs. If mentoring is fully optional, people will still benefit – but they won’t all want to track their activities.

Also think about practical ways to measure outcome-based KPIs. In the case of a talent retention program, you might track how long people stay with the organization, or you might instead choose to measure predictors of retention, such as employee attitudes. Following are examples of ways you can measure employee attitudes:

  • Survey how engaged employees are toward both their work and the organization. Understand levels of enthusiasm, drive, and passion about individual contributions and the organization.
  • Survey how committed employees are to the organization. Do employees feel attached to the organization and driven to stay on board?
  • Survey managers as to apparent engagement levels within their teams.
  • Survey satisfaction with career development over time.
  • Survey employee perception of organizational culture in a few key areas:
    • Does the organization treat learning and adaptability as an objective?
    • Is the organization invested in employees’ professional development and skill acquisition?
    • Does it seem like the capability of people is always improving?
    • Is the organization honest, open, compassionate, and trustworthy place to work?

For the above tactics, be sure you have a way to track improvement. One way to do this is to capture data for those in your target audience who haven’t been mentored, then compare that data to that of those who have completed a mentoring partnership. Alternatively, try capturing data for your mentoring population before they begin the program, and then capture it again upon program completion and once more six months later.

Next Steps

Once you’ve defined and developed your goals and mentoring metrics, you can set up the mechanics of how you will measure mentoring success. This is where software can help. Chronus software provides several features, including:

  • Analytics: track program and individual connection progress
  • Reports: view real-time performance and export details for further analysis
  • Surveys: acquire feedback from participants throughout all phases of program

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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