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What the Difference Between a “Quality” and an “Effective” Mentoring Program is?

  • Quality is a condition that must exist relative to something else:
    • I am a better quality mentor than you. (Not a professional statement, however) I am a quality mentor as measured against the standards for mentoring practice. Our program is a quality program, as measured against mentoring program standards. Given this definition, the effort to develop a higher-quality mentoring program will need some mentoring program standards. The effort to promote quality mentoring requires standards of mentoring as a professional practice. This is an evolving picture. Nevertheless, a quality program is one that “has arrived,” not one that is “in process.”
  • Effectiveness also must exist relative to something else. In this case, that something else is a set of goals. In other words, a program is deemed effective if:
    •   It is getting closer to its goals, or
    •   It is successful in accomplishing its goals; that is, it does what it was designed to do.
  • This is helpful from the perspective of continually improving a program, sustaining the resources that support it, and accomplishing important and valued things. However, these distinctions are not as simple as they might seem. For example: A program that has as its sole purpose to “orient new employees to their job,” may assign a mentor to help carry out that purpose. If, later on, all new employees feel well oriented, it could then be said that this is an effective mentoring program. In other words, the program has accomplished what it intended to do, regardless of whether it meets some standard for quality or not. However, placed against a set of program standards, or compared to another program with additional purposes (such as the improvement of performance and results), the orientation program seems of less quality and to be less effective than those which accomplish more. This suggests that there is a consensus that such peer support programs as mentoring and coaching should at least address improving productivity and results.

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