Why build a mentorship program?


When John Fairclough started his facility maintenance company, The Resicom Group, he had only a few employees and enjoyed interacting with each one of them. As time went on, the company, based in Lemont, Illinois, grew and Faiclough felt more and more disconnected. So he decided to implement a mandatory mentorship program to help fill the gap.

His first step was to define the goals of the program. “I felt that there was a relationship gap between employees and leaders in the company—I wanted to bridge that gap. I also wanted the program to demonstrate that we have excellent leadership.”

After defining his goals, Fairclough determined what he did not want out of the program, which included mentors counseling their direct reports. “I didn’t want anyone to feel unsafe with what they were telling their mentors,” he notes. “I also didn’t want the mentor to be in charge. I wanted the relationship to be led by the mentee, by their needs and goals.”

Determining logistics was next up in the program planning process. Fairclough decided mentors and their mentees would meet four times per year formally.

Then it was time to pair people up. “This was the tricky part,” he says. “I explained a few rules to mentors. They were to keep things confidential and not to try to solve their mentee’s problems; just listen.”

Five years after implementing the program, “it is going phenomenally,” he says. “We have 75 full-time employees and I am finding that the mentors and mentees absolutely love it. As for members of my management team, they are mentored by persons in outside leadership forums.”