Project Management Institute

Mentoring for Successful OPM Implementation


Dino Butorac, PMP®, BRISK Business Inc.

Table of Contents



Mentoring in OPM Implementations

Goals of mentoring within the OPM context

Setting initiative objectives

Mentoring implementation as a project within OPM implementation

Mentroing timeline

Mentoring planning and execution

Assessing initiative resources

Needs assessment

Recruitment and selection of initiative participants

Matching of initiative participants

Training of initiative participants

Initiative execution

Evaluation of the initiative

Benefits of Mentoring During OPM Implementation

Benefits for mentees

Benefits for mentors

Benefits for organization




In order to prepare an organization for the successful implementation of organizational project management (OPM), it is important to ensure that relevant information is being communicated throughout the organization. The organization can facilitate the sharing of knowledge, expertise, skills, insights and experiences through dialogue and collaborative learning—also known as mentoring. Mentoring benefits the organization, the mentors and, of course, the mentees.

Mentoring initiatives help practitioners perform more effectively by exposing them to more experienced employees whose knowledge and real-world experience can shorten the time needed to learn how to plan and carry out the actions that are parts of their jobs. By participating in the mentoring initiative, mentors receive recognition for their professional competency, and the satisfaction of being able to help other people in a very direct way; and greater exposure to fresh perspectives from other members of the profession. Within the OPM implementation context, mentoring initiatives provide organizations with an additional venue for the exchange of information and ideas, as well as the more general benefits of higher employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.

This paper proposes effective practices for performing mentoring activities, determined by scientific research of general workplace mentoring initiatives. It discusses mentoring activities from the perspective of the OPM implementation program context.


Organizational project management (OPM) is the framework used to align project, program, and portfolio management practices with organizational strategy and objectives, and customizing or fitting these practices within the organization's context, situation or structure (PMI, 2014b). This paper discusses the role of mentoring within a typical OPM implementation program, which establishes or improves upon the OPM core-enabling processes. These core-enabling processes (Strategic Alignment, Organizational Project Management Methodology, Governance, and Competency Management) facilitate an organization's ability to realize its strategic objectives through portfolio, program and project management (PMI, 2014b, p. 39).

Mentoring is a relationship between a more experienced person (mentor) and a less experienced person (mentee1), with the goal of achieving personal and professional growth of the mentee. Here, “more experienced” doesn't necessarily mean “older,” and there are certainly cases where the mentor can actually be younger than the mentee; for example, when an older individual makes a career change and is in the role of the novice. However, this is less often the case: Finkelstein, Allen, and Rhoton (2003) stated that older workplace mentees reported receiving less career mentoring than did younger mentees (as cited in Allen & Eby, 2007).

Mentoring differs from coaching in that mentoring has the general object of development, whereas coaching is associated with a specific skill development. The time frame for coaching is typically short term, whereas mentoring tends to focus on long-term development. Mentoring is more concerned with modeling, counseling, supporting, advocating, introducing and sheltering. Coaching is more concerned with goal setting, providing practical application, providing feedback, and teaching (D'Abate, Eddy, & Tannenbaum, 2003). Mentoring is a more general, broader and a longer-term activity than coaching, but coaching is often one of the activities that is performed as part of the mentoring process.

The methods discussed in this paper are based on the research findings that have been published in The Blackwell Handbook of Mentoring: A Multiple Perspectives Approach (Allen & Eby, 2007). The handbook covers the research of mentoring within three different types of environments: youth mentoring, student-faculty mentoring and workplace mentoring. This paper is naturally focused almost exclusively on the workplace perspective, but it takes into account many findings from the other two perspectives that confirm or enhance the findings from the workplace perspective.

These research findings are then analyzed within the OPM implementation context in alignment with Implementing Organizational Project Management: A Practice Guide (PMI, 2014b), where OPM implementation is identified as developing or improving an OPM framework that integrates the business model, the organizational culture and PMI's existing standards. As part of this analysis, a sample, high-level project lifecycle for mentoring implementation is suggested and some specific implementation guidelines are given.

Mentoring in OPM Implementations

While it may be possible for mentoring to happen in the organization informally and spontaneously, to ensure realization of the benefits it provides, the organization needs to officially support and sanction mentoring relationships in a formal way. Mentoring is implemented as one of the components of the OPM implementation program following the guidelines in Implementing Organizational Project Management (PMI, 2014b), The Standard for Program Management (PMI, 2013d) and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition (PMI, 2013a).

The mentoring implementation project's requirements are defined and the project is designed during the Develop Implementation Plan step of the OPM program as described in Implementing Organizational Project Management (PMI, 2014b). Mentoring implementation is about organizational change, and so good change management is part of the project planning from the outset. Sustainability of the change is important as well; and achieving sustainability begins with the initial planning and is further supported within the Continuous Improvement step of the OPM implementation program (PMI, 2014b).

Goals of mentoring within the OPM context

The main objective of OPM is to tie the project management processes to business processes and organizational strategy (PMI, 2014b). The goals of the OPM implementation program are set so that the organization realizes some or all of a number of potential benefits of OPM shown in Figure 1. Within this context, the goals of the mentoring initiative are aligned with the overarching goals of the OPM implementation program.

Potential benefits of OPM implementation

Figure 1: Potential benefits of OPM implementation.

Mentoring primarily belongs to the OPM competency management process, which is one of four core-enabling processes together with strategic alignment, organizational project management methodology, and governance (PMI, 2014b).

The purpose of OPM competency management is to facilitate the timely and appropriate assessment of the skills and development of the experience necessary to implement portfolios, programs and projects within the organization (PMI, 2014b). Competency management ensures that all levels, including process owners, functional managers and executives have the competencies necessary to successfully deliver the goals of portfolios, programs and projects, and understand their roles in the process (PMI, 2014b).

Mentoring can play an important and significant role in this process, provided that there are enough existing and available experts in the organization and that the goals of mentoring are aligned with the goals of the OPM competency management process and OPM implementation program as a whole. The objective is to realize as many of the general benefits as possible that mentoring can bring to mentors, mentees and the organization, as discussed beginning on Page 13.

Setting initiative objectives

Within the context of the OPM implementation program, the primary objective of the mentoring initiative is to promote and support changes in how the organization manages its projects, programs and portfolios. However, mentoring initiatives in general have the potential to meet other objectives, such as helping with succession planning, improving employees' skills outside of the OPM context, increasing retention or increasing diversity in the workplace (Allen & Eby, 2007). Within the context of OPM implementation, those objectives would be deemed as secondary, but choosing additional objectives that reach further than just the OPM context might help in obtaining support for the mentoring initiative from the organization's leadership.

In any case, objectives for the mentoring initiative should be set, be based on organizational needs and be clearly communicated (Allen & Eby, 2007). For example, through the mentoring initiative an organization might choose to also improve the results of their transition and succession processes in addition to the primary objective of promoting and supporting changes in their current portfolio, program and project management processes.

Mentoring implementation as a project within OPM implementation

The OPM implementation program should utilize standard program management practices, such as the standard phases of the program management lifecycle: program definition, program benefits delivery and program closure. These should be aligned with The Standard for Program Management (PMI, 2013d) and Implementing Organizational Project Management (PMI, 2014b). Within the broader program, mentoring implementation should be one of the initiatives identified, prioritized and selected for implementation as described in step 3.2.1 of Implementing Organizational Project Management (PMI, 2014b).

In most situations where mentoring implementation is structured properly and appropriately, it is likely that this initiative would be relatively quick and easy to implement, and would have relatively high strategic importance. The initiative itself should be structured as a project—following the standard practices as described in the PMBOK®Guide (PMI, 2013a)—by applying the appropriate processes from all five Process Groups and ten Knowledge Areas.

Mentoring timeline

As stated by Allen and Eby (2007), best practices for formal mentoring initiatives can be grouped in the following stages that are being run more or less sequentially, with some possible and necessary overlaps:

  • Assessing initiative resources
  • Needs assessment
  • Recruitment and selection of initiative participants
  • Matching of initiative participants
  • Training of initiative participants
  • Initiative execution
  • Evaluation of the initiative

Since we are looking at an implementation of mentoring as one of the initiatives within the OPM implementation program, and we want to implement this mentoring initiative by applying project management methods and techniques, we can map its activities to the generic project lifecycle activities described in the PMBOK®Guide (PMI, 2013a):

  • Starting the project
  • Organizing and preparing
  • Carrying out the project work, and
  • Closing the project.

Combining these together, we arrive at a high-level generic lifecycle of implementation of the formal mentoring implementation project, as depicted in Figure 2.

High-level generic lifecycle of the mentoring implementation project

Figure 2: High-level generic lifecycle of the mentoring implementation project.

Formal mentoring initiatives within the workplace context are typically structured to last between 6 months and 2 years, with most of them lasting one year (Allen & Eby, 2007). Within the OPM implementation context, the length of the mentoring relationships should be aligned with the length of the OPM implementation program in order to facilitate its successful completion. However, to continue reaping the benefits of mentoring even after the initial OPM implementation program has been completed, and because long-term OPM success needs continuous improvement, consider transitioning mentoring to operations beyond the initial OPM implementation to sustain and further expand its benefits.

Mentoring planning and execution

The OPM implementation activities can be summarized within the workplace-related research findings from The Blackwell Handbook of Mentoring (Allen & Eby, 2007).

Assessing initiative resources

It is important to determine the availability of resources, such as funding; the climate of the setting; support for the initiative; and availability of senior employees who would take on mentor roles. In cases where there are not enough mentors available, hiring external professionals may be warranted, but with the possible downside that they are not familiar with the organizational culture. However, a possible upside is that the external resources may bring a more politically independent position, and possibly fresh perspectives and ideas.

Allen and Eby (2007) have shown that organizational support and commitment of top management to the mentoring initiative in the workplace is beneficial. Committed and sustained executive sponsorship has also been recognized as the most important critical success factor for OPM implementation (PMI, 2014b). These clearly demonstrate the need for top management support for the mentoring initiative within the OPM implementation.

Top management support ensures adequate resourcing of the project, not only from the financial perspective, but also from the time perspective, as both mentors and mentees need to dedicate some of their time to the mentoring process. When leaders communicate the importance and value of the initiative to employees, it becomes more likely that employees will demonstrate commitment to it.

Implementing Organizational Project Management (PMI, 2014b) identified sustained leadership as a critical success factor for OPM implementation. There should also be executive-level support and promotion for the mentoring initiative as well. This support can be shown in many different ways. Allen and Eby (2007) identified the following actions by top management:

  • Serving as mentors
  • Allowing time away from the job for mentoring participants to meet
  • Holding regular meetings dedicated to publicizing the initiative
  • Establishing a rewards system to encourage mentors to participate
  • Making mentoring part of a company's overall employee and management development program

Needs assessment

Allen and Eby (2007) concluded that a needs assessment is valuable to the development of a formal mentoring initiative and that the needs of the organization, participants, and other constituents should be considered to determine its specific objectives and policies. The requirements of the mentoring implementation project were defined during the Develop Implementation Plan step. During the needs assessment step of the mentoring implementation, alignment with the intended benefits of the OPM implementation program is confirmed, as well as the needs and goals of the OPM Competency Management process (of which mentoring is a part). The results can then be used to decide which specific groups should receive mentoring (i.e., young leaders; full-time project managers; or employees in charge of projects, programs or portfolios, functional managers, and even executives) and to formulate criteria for evaluating the initiative (i.e., measured competency development).

The needs assessment can also help a mentoring initiative develop clear, attainable and realistic goals, which should be communicated to both the mentor and the mentee during the training step. Research clearly demonstrates that an organization needs to set an objective for its initiative, objectives need to be based on organizational needs, and objectives need to be clearly communicated (e.g., Catalyst, 1993 as cited by Allen & Eby, 2007).

The needs assessment should also consider community and cultural factors, especially within larger or cross-cultural organizations; for example, economics, politics and legal concerns may influence the initiative's policies and objectives (Allen & Eby, 2007).

Recruitment and selection of initiative participants

Allen and Eby (2007) emphasized the importance of recruiting and selecting mentors and mentees; and, although there is some debate regarding the best way to do so, workplace mentoring has been found to rely mostly on internal recruitment. Mentors most likely to be effective should be selected from among a pool of potential mentors. In addition to common selection criteria for mentors, such as motivation, experience, interest and interpersonal skills, Allen and Eby (2007) concluded that a mentor's empathy (i.e., capacity to share or recognize emotions experienced by the mentee) and a proactive orientation (acting in advance of a future situation instead of waiting and then reacting) may facilitate effective mentoring. Furthermore, they found that mentoring in the workplace environment exemplifies the mentor's ability to model desired behaviors. Their research also recognizes the potential detrimental effects of negative mentoring relationships and makes recommendations for screening out poor mentors. For example, a mentor's lack of accountability may present a potential problem.

Mentees are typically recruited and selected based on the initiative's objectives (Allen & Eby, 2007), and within the OPM implementation context mentoring should include those interested in project management training and development. Allen and Eby (2007) also conclude that for successful and beneficial mentoring relationship to occur there should be significant emphasis on the mentee's motivation and interest. In addition, their research suggests that the ability level of the mentee is very important to attract mentors, and that proactive mentees achieve better results than the less proactive ones. This highlights the need for the organization's leadership to recognize and stimulate more proactive employees to take an active part in the mentoring initiative, as well as in the overall OPM implementation program.

Most organizations use experienced professionals, managers and executives in general mentoring initiatives. Translating that into the OPM implementation context, senior project managers would be the obvious mentor candidates, as well as managers and professionals with more project management experience. Experience/ expertise, knowledge, skills, abilities, interest, motivation and availability are factors to consider when selecting mentors. However, there are often fewer available mentors than mentees, so limiting the number of mentors may be limiting to the whole initiative.

The organization's leadership should make sure that those selected to be mentors would be available enough to commit to mentoring. It is also important that they participate not because of the pressure from higher management, but because through mentoring others they want to help their colleagues, their organization and themselves.

When selecting mentees, the task may seem to be easier because everybody in the organization who is in the project management profession is a candidate. But, in most cases the small number of mentors dictates stricter selection of mentees. In general, mentees with a stronger orientation toward achievement, initiative, assertiveness and learning show more potential to improve (Allen & Eby, 2007) so it is reasonable to expect a similar pattern within the OPM implementation context. Additionally, the selection process should focus on those who have expressed an interest in mentorship. PMI (2014c) research noted that “[t]he most effective [mentoring] programs are mentee-driven, with mentees seeking out the person they want to learn from and engaging with him or her directly” (p. 8). With a limited number of mentees due to a limited number of mentors, the selection process will focus on those factors that would most increase the success rate of the initiative.

Regardless of the criteria used to select the mentees, Gray (as cited in Allen & Eby, 2007) stressed that these criteria need to be fair, achievable and communicated openly.

Matching of initiative participants

Once initiative participants are selected, matching is the next step. There is significant importance for the matching process to ensure a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship. Empirical evidence shows that perceived similarity in terms of interests and values directly relates to satisfaction with the relationship (Allen & Eby, 2007). Research also shows that the match should include input from the participants, provided that it can be put into practice.

When considering the process of matching mentors and mentees, research suggests that participants shouldn't be matched randomly but, instead, matching should be based on the initiative's objectives and the organization's overall culture (Allen & Eby, 2007). Also consider other areas of mutual compatibility, such as general business and industry as well as hobbies and personal interests. Perceived similarities between mentor and mentee prove to be an important matching factor in forming a successful relationship. As a best practice, participants should have a say in determining with whom they will be matched (Allen & Eby, 2007). When expectations are clear and agreed upon by both mentor and mentee at the beginning of their working together, the relationship works better and achieves better results. This includes not only the wanted outcomes, but also the frequency and methods of meeting and working together (Allen & Eby, 2007).

Matching is more successful when both mentors and mentees have been trained on the topic of mentoring before they start; and especially if that training includes information that helps them develop an interpersonal connection (Allen & Eby, 2007). Therefore, within the OPM implementation context, the matching should be done according to these findings with particular attention to making sure that mentors and mentees are trained in advance and that they discuss and set clear expectations from the start.

Training of initiative participants

Allen and Eby (2007) emphasize the importance of training for mentors. This training should include a discussion of the initiative requirements and procedures, and provide instruction on how to set expectations and boundaries of the relationship. Their research suggests that perceptions regarding the effectiveness of the mentoring initiative are closely related to the quality of the training. These findings show that within the OPM implementation context, particular attention should be paid to careful design and delivery of the training for mentors since the training has a significant impact on initiative success, and, therefore, may influence the success of the OPM implementation program. Furthermore, ongoing training of mentors is important to long-term success of the initiative.

Initiative execution

Formal mentoring initiatives may have specific policies regarding the frequency and method of interaction, duration of the relationship and manner of ending the relationship, but there is little empirical evidence to show which polices are best (Allen & Eby, 2007). Regarding meeting frequency, the value of ongoing interactions depends on the nature of the relationship and the partner's availability (Allen & Eby, 2007). The literature suggests that the mentoring relationship may last from 6 months to 2 years depending on the goals of the initiative (Allen & Eby, 2007).

Within the OPM implementation context, the structure and content of mentoring interactions should revolve around OPM practices aligned with the other initiatives performed within the OPM implementation program. In most cases, interactions will be focused on sharing experiences and knowledge of project management practices and how to apply them on current projects.

Most mentoring initiatives in organizations are designed so that participation is voluntary, with no repercussions for those who do not participate or who withdraw (Allen & Eby, 2007). Forcing people to participate may create resistance and thwart their efforts and dedication, making the whole initiative unprofitable or even damaging. The OPM implementation context is no different.

Evaluation of the initiative

Allen and Eby (2007) concluded that ongoing monitoring and initiative evaluation are important to demonstrate the effectiveness of the mentoring initiative. Monitoring can help prevent negative mentoring experiences by influencing perceptions of accountability. Evaluation should assess the extent to which the initiative accomplished its goals (as established by the needs assessment).

Within the OPM context, the primary goals would be the mentees' OPM competency development and their progress as a result of the initiative. By applying structured monitoring and evaluation it is possible to identify those mentor/mentee relationships that are “in trouble” and should be repaired or halted.

Also, the initiative can be examined to see if it is achieving its objectives from the perspective of its purpose and budget. These results are particularly important for obtaining and sustaining top management support of the mentoring initiative. Results of the mentoring initiative can play an important role in evaluation of the whole OPM implementation program. The frequency of regular checkups should not be too frequent and burdensome, but be frequent enough for the organization to react to the findings in a timely fashion. So, in general, shorter initiatives should have checkups more often than longer ones.

During a typical monitoring checkup, the mentoring initiative is reviewed in terms of what is working well, where there are problems and ways to improve. The checkup is usually done as a series of one-on-one discussions between the initiative administrator and mentors and mentees, but it can also involve written reports (Allen & Eby, 2007). In addition to interviews and written reports, other evaluation tools can be used, such as questionnaires, appraisals and 360-degree assessments. Within the context of OPM implementation program, the focus of the evaluation should revolve around the effects of mentoring on achieving the objectives.

Benefits of Mentoring During OPM Implementation

By appropriately aligning the goals of the mentoring initiative with the goals of the OPM implementation program, a successful mentoring initiative will bring the organization closer to achieving its strategic objectives by tying its project management processes to its business processes and organizational strategy. It has been shown by Allen and Eby (2007) that workplace mentoring initiatives can deliver benefits for organizations, including better talent pool development and management, higher productivity, better performance and lower turnover costs. The benefits for mentees and mentors include improved career possibilities and higher career and life satisfaction levels. Since an OPM implementation program is being performed within the workplace environment, it is reasonable to conclude that within that context these same benefits can be expected. Therefore, mentoring should be built into the OPM implementation program as one of its initiatives to ensure more effective achievement of this alignment. Mentoring serves as a tool to ensure that stakeholders understand the value of OPM, its purpose, its benefit to the organization, and how their attitudes and practices can impact the organization. It also helps stakeholders make sense of the OPM program, which improves sustainability after it is implemented.

Benefits for mentees

When a mentor teaches a mentee how to perform a certain task (an example of coaching within the mentoring framework), this is known as a knowledge transfer. This can improve the mentee's performance. Also, the mentee's knowledge and skills are enhanced by performing challenging assignments and receiving feedback and coaching from the mentor. But, these are not the only mechanisms in play, even though they may be the most obvious ones.

With mentors serving as role models, the mentees develop their perceptions of what may be possible and their expectation that they can achieve outcomes may increase. This can happen consciously or unconsciously; but, mentees are likely to absorb the mentor's attitudes, values and behaviors, which can improve their work. For example, there was a mentee with little experience in managing groups who understood leadership mostly as possessing and exercising power over subordinates. During mentor/mentee discussions related to the ongoing OPM implementation the mentee observed his mentor's servant leadership style with her focus on helping and empowering her team members. So, even without discussing it with her—let alone being taught about it—he started embracing a similar leadership style. This improved the results and morale of his team. Mentoring helped him develop servant leadership even though the topics of their mentoring discussions to that point in time had not included leadership styles.

General workplace mentoring initiatives provide mentees with improved career attainment possibilities and higher career and life satisfaction levels (Allen & Eby, 2007). These outcomes are achieved through several different changes that happen as a result of mentoring. Allen and Eby (2007) structured them into a model of consequences of mentoring relationships, and grouped them into the following mentoring functions:

  • Human capital: Through performing challenging assignments, receiving coaching and observing role models, mentees enhance their knowledge, skills and expectancy perceptions, which have a positive influence on their job performance, and, as a result, on their career attainment. For example, less experienced project managers can learn new skills more effectively.
  • Movement capital: Mentees acquire internal and external labor market knowledge and perception of ease and desirability of movement within the organization through their increased exposure to and visibility in the organization. These affect their job search behavior, inter- and intra-organizational mobility, and turnover, thus increasing their career satisfaction and career attainment. For example, mentees can get more exposure to be considered for new roles and responsibilities within the OPM context, but also outside of it.
  • Social/political capital: Through the mentor's sponsorship, protection, exposure, visibility and coaching, mentees improve their awareness of the political environment and the importance of networking, while at the same time increasing their sense of power and confidence. The result is improved self-monitoring and influence tactics, increased networking and seeking new mentors—again, positively affecting their career objectives, either within the OPM context or outside of it.
  • Path/goal clarity: Through the mentor's role modeling, acceptance, confirmation, counseling and friendship, mentees increase their self-efficacy, instrumentality and expectancy perceptions. These positively influence their job performance and career attainment.
  • Values clarity: Through the mentor's role modeling, acceptance, confirmation, counseling and friendship, mentees achieve focus on their career and clarify their personal and professional values. This, in turn, positively affects their career and life planning, reduces turnover and increases their career and life satisfaction levels. For example, less experienced project managers might learn from their mentors about their own likely career path, which can help them focus and perform better.

In addition, within the OPM implementation context, mentoring initiatives may help mentees perform more effectively by exposing them to senior employees. The mentees can learn from their experience, which can aid them in learning how to plan for and carry out the actions that are parts of their jobs. This is particularly important as part of the change management approach that is recommended as part of the OPM implementation program.

Take for example, a mentee who was struggling with the concept of net present value calculation in an OPM initiative to establish a company-wide project selection and authorization process. It was only through discussion with her mentor that she was finally able to grasp the concept and understand how to apply it properly. Without the mentoring process in place, which enabled the organization to address this issue in an organized and systematic way, the issue may have remained unresolved for a longer time, exposing the organization to a higher risk of inaccurate net present value calculations.

Mentoring can also help mentees face and conquer the fear of changes that are coming their way, and reduce their possible resistance to these changes. In the previous example, the mentee was reluctant to embrace the changes to her processes, mostly because she didn't fully understand the calculation technique that she was supposed to use in the new process. Because of that lack of understanding, she was also reluctant to embrace any other changes that were supposed to happen as part of the OPM implementation, such as new roles and responsibilities assignments in her department. After discussion with her mentor and obtaining clarity on the technique, she was more ready to accept other pending changes.

Benefits for mentors

Allen and Eby (2007) summarized that general workplace mentoring initiatives provide mentors with improved career attainment possibilities, and higher career and life satisfaction levels—in a way similar to those of mentees—but with some significant differences. Mentors may experience several different outcomes and changes through their activities. Again, following the model of consequences of mentoring relationships, the authors grouped the benefits into the following categories.

  • Human capital: Through challenging assignments and building friendship with mentees, mentors may acquire knowledge of the latest trends, awareness of intergenerational work–life differences and experience cognitive rejuvenation. This, in turn, enhances their mentoring and leadership skills, and may improve their job performance, which may have a positive influence on their career attainment. For example, an experienced portfolio manager may mentor a young leader who has experience in agile project management with which the mentor has limited experience, so the mentor would also be able to learn first-hand from the mentee.
  • Movement capital: Through providing mentees sponsorship, friendship, better exposure and visibility within the organization, mentors acquire better external labor market knowledge and perceptions of ease and desirability of movement. These affect their job search behavior, and inter-organizational mobility and turnover, thus increasing their career satisfaction and career attainment. For example, through the process of mentoring the mentors could find out which of their skills are in demand in the market and may stimulate and motivate them to perform better—either within the OPM context or outside of it.
  • Optimal resource usage: Through providing mentees with challenging assignments, mentors are able to reduce their stress and increase their mental energy and cognition of division of labor. These factors can lead to delegating more tasks to mentees, increasing their scope of work and improving job performance. These in turn lead to better career attainment. For example, when the mentor is a portfolio manager and delegates some of her portfolio tasks to her mentee, she might be able to focus better on some other, more important tasks.
  • Social/political capital: Through providing sponsorship, protection, coaching, exposure and visibility, mentors are able to receive unfiltered feedback from mentees, acquire awareness of political climate and importance of mentoring and get a sense of power and confidence. The results are improved self-monitoring, improved job performance, enhanced mentoring skills and the desire to seek more mentees, which have a positive effect on career satisfaction and attainment.
  • Identity validation: Through providing coaching, role modeling, friendship, acceptance and confirmation, mentors increase their sense of purpose and fulfillment, reinforcement of professional identity and increased desire to contribute. These lead to a greater commitment to the career, engaging in more developmental activities and the desire to seek out more mentees, which leads to higher career and life satisfaction and career attainment. The number of potential mentors is often the biggest limitation to mentoring initiatives. The increased desire to seek out more mentees results in more mentees receiving mentoring.
  • Relational gains: By providing acceptance, confirmation, counseling and friendship to mentees, mentors reach better mentor/mentee fit, greater emotional attachment and a reduced sense of loneliness. The result is engagement in more developmental activities and the search for more mentees, which, in turn, results in better career and life satisfaction.

Within the OPM implementation context, where change is being introduced to the organization and feelings of uncertainty may arise among the employees, the mentoring initiative can actually increase the mentors' desire to contribute due to an increased sense of recognition, purpose and fulfillment. By participating in the mentoring initiatives, mentors receive the recognition of their professional competence, satisfaction of being able to help other people in a very direct way; and they get more exposure to fresh perspectives from newer and less-experienced members of the profession.

Benefits for the organization

Within the OPM implementation context, it is reasonable to expect that successful performance of the mentoring initiative will support easier and more probable achievement of the overarching goal of organizational project management: alignment of the organization's strategic objectives with execution of that strategy through related projects and programs (PMI, 2014b). For example, a potential result of mentoring is that the OPM implementation program is executed more efficiently and the organization reaches a higher level of project management maturity more quickly.

An especially important aspect of mentoring is its capability to reduce potential resistance to the change that the OPM implementation program will likely produce. Less experienced project managers, members of sales and/or delivery teams, but in certain cases also functional managers and executives, need to be coached on how to handle aspects of project management with which they may not be familiar, such as stakeholder engagement, working with executive sponsors, business processes, etc. By involving individuals in mentoring, the organization can gain their buy-in and consensus, and keep them engaged throughout the planning and implementation stages of the OPM program. Successful organizational change management requires a commitment to transforming from what an organization is into what it wants to be (PMI, 2014a), and mentoring can help in establishing or developing this commitment.

Also, if mentoring implementation is being executed as one of the OPM implementation program's initiatives, it is likely that the mentoring initiative will be one of the “quick wins” due to its relatively low difficulty of implementation and high strategic importance. Quick wins help to achieve buy-in, so they should be implemented early in the program and be included in the short-term planning (PMI, 2014b). For example, the initial setup and implementation of the mentoring initiative may be performed in a matter of weeks, and it can then serve as an illustration of already happening changes and improvements within the organization. By being able to show these tangible mentoring results very quickly, the whole OPM implementation program is more likely to receive greater support from the stakeholders, thus increasing chances for overall success of the program.

In order to determine the specific expected benefits for the organization—and to define them as the objective of the mentoring initiative implementation—a needs assessment should be performed at an earlier stage as part of the identification and prioritization step of the OPM implementation program (as described earlier in this paper). Assuring that the mentoring initiative meets the needs of the OPM implementation program increases the likelihood of successful achievement of OPM application within the organization and realization of the intended organizational benefits of OPM.


Mentoring practices benefit the implementation of organizational project management. Therefore, a project to implement mentoring should be one of the components of the broader OPM implementation program. Keep the following points in mind:

  • Plan the implementation of organizational project management as a proper program by applying guidelines from Implementing Organizational Project Management: A Practice Guide (PMI, 2014b), The Standard for Program Management (PMI, 2013d) and Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide (PMI, 2013b).
  • Identify mentoring implementation as one of the potential “quick wins” within the OPM implementation program.
  • Utilize the proposed high-level generic lifecycle for the implementation of mentoring, which incorporates stages as recommended by research results (Allen & Eby, 2007) and typical project phases as recommended by A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)– Fifth Edition (PMI, 2013a).
  • Leverage the research findings from workplace mentoring initiatives (Allen & Eby, 2007).

By following these recommendations, mentoring will benefit the implementation of organizational project management and will bring the organization closer to achieving its strategic objectives; while at the same time realizing general mentoring benefits such as higher employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.


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1 Some authors have proposed alternative terms for “mentee,” such as “protégé” or “mentoree.” However, “protégé” is a more general term with wider meaning and it can be used even outside of the mentoring context, so as a counterpart to a protégé, there could be a mentor, but there could also be a patron, protector or sponsor. While “mentoree” clearly denotes a relationship with a mentor, it is being used less often than “mentee,” so throughout this paper the term “mentee” is used.

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