As we close our discussion on creating a coaching or mentoring program, you must take the time to make the program permanent. You’ve measured the success of the program in both human capital and otherwise. You’ve shown that success to the decision makers and stakeholders and they are “on board”. Let’s look at some ways that you can make the program a permanent part of the organization.
First, the key part of permanence is to always be a step ahead of the organization. If things are going to change, you need to be aware of the coming changes. To do this, you should keep in contact with your executive sponsors or stakeholders. Set regular meetings with them using the coaching program as a meeting subject in order to keep the program in their minds. Be prepared to show how you’re evaluating and making changes along the way, both the good and the difficult changes. Once you’ve got this “window” into the future of the organization, you can always be on the lookout for ways to change the program with the organization. And when you do this, your executive sponsorship and buy-in will continue.
If your program involves a formal training course for coaches or mentors, be sure to keep that training alive and well – and on the schedule at all times. If organizational members are looking for ways to expand their own careers, they will inquire about the program. This is another way to keep in permanent. Don’t offer the course or the coach and mentor openings too frequently – one of the chief concerns in marketing a great product or service is to keep it scarce. And prospective coaches or mentors may have to wait to get into the program, which is a good thing. Keep in mind that just as you evaluate the coaching program itself, you must evaluate the training program, as well. Keep it fresh and people will keep lining up.
In regard to the coach and mentor “positions”, keep them at a level of scarcity, as well. Determine your time frame for opening the program to new coaches and mentors and stick to it. Conduct a marketing “blitz” just before you open the program each time in order to peak interest on the part of coaches and proteges. When the members of the organization know the benefits of the program and begin to know when it opens, they will be ready to move when the time comes. This tactic can keep the program alive and make it part of the organization’s “mental calendar”. In terms of marketing, be sure to use your executive sponsors as spokespeople when the time comes to open the program. This kind of marketing is effective and is also a definite mark of permanence.
If your program is still in “limited release”, that is, not a part of every area of the organization, go through the steps for expansion. When you do this, you’ll be able to create the permanence that we are discussing. By deploying the program to all levels, you’ll also be able to create the concept of scarcity that we’ve just discussed.
Another way to maintain permanence is to keep measuring and evaluating the program. Don’t give in to the temptation of going through a few evaluation cycles and then stopping. Evaluation takes time and resources but it will be worthwhile as the program changes with the organization and its needs. And as you market the program, the members of the organization will be able to see that coaching and mentoring is there to stay.
Before we finish our discussion on creating a coaching or mentoring program, let’s review the steps. First, determine your goals and the type of program you’re going to implement. Second, take the time to design the program based on those goals. Third, plan an implementation strategy that includes marketing, training, scheduling and selecting coaches, mentors, and proteges. Fourth, be sure to measure the effectiveness of the program through formal, informal, and benchmarking methods. Fifth, don’t be afraid to make changes. Sixth, remember to look for ways to expand the program at all levels. Finally, always make it permanent.
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