The Business Case for Mentoring

Strategic Overview

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”
– Simon Sinek

To fully achieve the potential of Acme, we must invest equally in human capital as we invest in the other assets of the business.


Given our strategic initiatives and business goals, now is the time to devote some of our organizational resources to leadership development. One key component of our human capital strategy over the next three years will be the establishment of a mentoring culture. To fully leverage the knowledge held at different levels in the organization, mentoring must become a part of the culture rather than just a passing event. This mentoring culture can develop only if mentoring is clearly aligned with the organization’s vision and mission, and the business strategy and goals. In addition, our mentoring program goals will link directly to Acme’s overall employee development strategy and goals.

Current State and Background

Acme Pharmaceuticals recently purchased Rich Industries in order to accelerate market access for Rich Industries’ products. Rich Industries lacked the large sales force and market channels required to cultivate relationships with the many doctors they need to promote their products. Acme’s large scale sales force is expected to accelerate the sales of Rich Industries pharmaceutical products, resulting in an overall increase in Acme’s margins, revenues and overall value.


Acme recognizes the value of leadership as a key competitive advantage. Leadership drives change and therefore drives the organizational culture needed to support Acme’s growth and business objectives. In addition, Acme recognizes the importance of developing leaders from the Rich Industries employee base to ensure leadership capacity and capability for future opportunities as the business grows and increases in complexity.


To support the critical need for leadership in rapidly changing conditions (internally and externally), Acme is in the initial stages of revising our leadership development strategy. Top talent assessments (including an evaluation of effectiveness in current role and future potential), skill gap identification, and new leadership competencies have been implemented as the first steps in the overall leadership development strategy. As Acme continues to evolve its strategy, mentoring is seen as a key component to the overall leadership development approach. In particular, mentoring will serve as a catalyst in merging both organizational cultures and cross-organizational learning.

Business Drivers

Given our current state, the following are the business drivers and goals for Acme’s mentoring program:


Accelerating cultural learning. Cross pollination of Acme and Rich Industries talent pool, in particular, the top 30% of leadership from both entities.


Retention. Organizations can lose key talent during times of change, notably after an acquisition. Acme has identified the key individuals and departments within Rich Industries that are critical to our growth strategy. Providing a mentoring experience will indicate to key employees that Acme intends to keep them engaged and productive.


Succession planning. As Acme identifies talent further down in both organizations, mentoring will provide key skills and understanding needed to support their promotion into higher levels of leadership.


For Acme:

  • Demonstrates organization’s commitment to developing employees.
  • Supports cross-functional communication and learning.
  • Helps the organization retain valuable employees post-merger.
  • Contributes to enhanced organization performance by supporting skill development that links to business goals.
  • Strengthens the organization’s reputation as an “Employer of Choice.”
  • Captures institutional/organizational knowledge.


For the Mentees:

  • Provides cross-functional learning experiences.
  • Provides access to a broader organizational view.
  • Provides knowledge and skill building opportunities to increase effectiveness.
  • Provides an opportunity to take ownership of personal and professional development.
  • Provides an opportunity to build and strengthen personal networks.
  • Promotes diversity of thought and style.


For the Mentors:

  • Provides an opportunity to build and strengthen mentoring skills.
  • Provides new insights into organizational issues through the eyes of the mentee.
  • Provides an opportunity to demonstrate leadership.
  • Provides an opportunity to contribute to the development of less experienced professionals
  • Enhances job satisfaction.
  • Compensation growth.[1]

[1] According to a 2012 Catalyst report, both male and female leaders who helped foster others’ careers saw a stunning average of $25,075 in compensation growth for themselves between the years 2008 and 2010.


Acme has identified the following targets post-merger.  Measuring the mentoring outcomes will provide insight as to the effectiveness of this strategy for Acme, and will dictate the frequency and scope of future program rollouts.

Organization Aspiration & Measurable Outcomes 1:


Turnover rate tracked against control group for a period of three years:

Vice President Level – less than 3% turn
Sr. Director and Director Level – less than 5% turn
Senior Manager Level – less than 5% turn
Mid-level Manager Level – less than 8% turn


Organization Aspiration & Measurable Outcomes 2:


Engagement Scores (by division); improvement in scores from 3.0 to 3.5-4.5 range on the following questions:

  • I feel involved in my work
  • I am inspired to meet my goals at work
  • I am satisfied with my opportunities for professional growth

Organization Aspiration & Measurable Outcomes 3:


Promotion – Track promotion rates for cohort for a period of two years against control group.


Organization Aspiration & Measurable Outcomes 4:


Track the following competency improvements:

  • Display executive presence
  • Work cross-functionally
  • Communicate vision
  • Thrive during change

Organization Aspiration & Measurable Outcomes 5:


Track the following improvements:

  • Improved relationship with managers
  • Improved relationships with colleagues
  • Improved relationships with direct reports

Critical Success Factors


  • Structured program that is integrated with clearly defined business objectives
  • Visible senior management commitment and support from Acme and Rich Industries
  • Training, tools and ongoing support for participants
  • Ownership of the mentoring process
  • Voluntary participation by mentees and mentors
  • Mix of participants from both Acme and Rich Industries
  • Ongoing communication to stakeholders
  • Commitment to continue mentoring for the next 3 to 5 years (sustained)

Potential Barriers & Solutions


Barrier 1

Mentees limited experience in leveraging mentoring benefits Communication of the program goals and specific benefits for mentees and mentors will occur throughout the process.

Solution 1

In addition, the participant guide provides tools and structure to maximize the mentoring experience and will be linked to Acme’s internal leadership development tools.


Barrier 2

Lack of organizational commitment

Solution 2

An initial meeting with the CEO and COO will be conducted to ensure support and buy-in.


Barrier 3

Lack of support by participants’ managers

Solution 3

Communication to participants’ managers is an integral component of the overall communication. Managers will also be involved in nomination process to ensure alignment.

Program Design and Deployment

To support the overall goals for mentoring, an initial one-to-one mentoring program will be implemented. To support the key business driver of strengthening the leadership pipeline, significant discussion occurred to select the most appropriate mentee and mentor pools for this initial pilot program. Ensuring senior leadership support, pool size, and mentoring skill sets were critical considerations in the program design.

In addition, as part of the pilot approach, it was agreed that the implementation of an internal program, combined with participation in an external program would support the best results in evaluating future mentoring options for Acme.

Key Program Components:


  • Executive Management Group members will be the mentor pool for the initial, internal program
  • The mentee pool will be members of the Senior Management Group from Acme and Rich Industries.
  • 15 mentees will be nominated by the Executive Management Group members, ensuring cross-functional representation.
  • The initial number of partnerships will be 8-12, depending upon “best fit” matches available given developmental needs of mentees and mentor skill set.
  • The program will launch at the end of June.
  • To support additional female Senior Management Group members in participating in a mentoring program, and to pilot an external mentoring experience, 2-3 individuals will participate in the Menttium 100® cross-company program.
  • Measurement will be an important component of the program and will include collecting participant feedback on the mentoring process and specific, behavioral changes or business impact as a result of participation in the program. The
  • Executive Management Group will assess the impact on the strength of the leadership pipeline throughout the program.
  • In addition, the opportunity to link participation in the program to engagement survey results and the tracking of retention over time will be explored.
  • The program will be owned by Anna Lee, with support from HRBP’s in each division.
    After the pilot, the cohort will expand to include Senior Directors, Directors, and Senior Managers from both Acme and Rich Industries. (Anticipated timing: 6 months from initial pilot.)