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Mentoring Matters – Part 2

September 16, 2010

(Part 2 of 2)

The previous entry identified some of the key issues to address in developing the framework for a mentoring program. The next steps are to recruit mentors and train them so both the mentor and mentee get the most out of the relationship.

You know the best methods for communicating with your members, but what are some of the points to emphasize in your recruitment efforts? Your members should consider volunteering as a mentor for the following reasons:

1) The chance to help others in their profession or industry.
2) The opportunity to share knowledge and give back to their industry or trade.
3) The chance to help support the organization and show the commitment it has to its members.
4) The opportunity to network and establish broader relationships.
5) The further development of their leadership skills.
6) The ability to share their vision for the future with others.

As you begin to identify those that will serve as mentors, a critical component to ensuring the success of your program is the training of new recruits. Below are some tips to include in your mentor training session. While most of the suggestions are applicable to mentors, some will apply to mentees as well.

1) Listen. Both the mentor and mentee must understand the perspective and circumstances of their partner which may be comparable or completely dissimilar. Each should be cognizant of when to speak and keep quiet.

2) Expectations. Set them. At the outset of the initial conversation, each party should define what they hope to get out of the relationship — they should be honest and put all issues on the table, from the get-go. Setting the most basic of expectations will help establish a rapport and trust that is the foundation for a successful mentor/mentee relationship.

3) Share. Mentors should share more than their ideas, which are always valuable, but other resources too, such as; books, blogs, manuals, a listing of websites the mentor may frequent, etc. Mentors should also consider other ways to help their mentee such as making introductions to other colleagues or anything that may help the relationship to flourish.

4) Plan. It is likely that both parties are busy people. Setting regular meeting times or frequency intervals during which they will talk or meet will help significantly. Many people are subject to inertia and once a meeting or two gets cancelled or goes unscheduled a mentoring relationship can wither on the vine. Phone conversations can be just as productive as face-to-face meetings, but where practical meetings should be in person.

5) Enthusiasm. It is especially critical that mentors project a positive and enthusiastic image. Mentees are likely to be “green” and inexperienced and part of the mentor’s role is to keep the mentee engaged and eager.

6) Prime the Pump. It is often beneficial to provide mentors with a with a list of conversation starters to get their meetings/calls on track. A list of topics such as work-life balance; managing office politics; working with colleagues and professional staff; leadership training; etc., will help “break the ice.”

All of these suggestions should help you jump-start your mentoring program. For more information try the following:

United States Office of Personnel Management; Best Practices: Mentoring; http://www.opm.gov/hrd/lead/BestPractices-Mentoring.pdf

The International Mentoring Association: http://www.mentoring-association.org/

Best Practices for Mentoring Programs: http://www.emt.org/userfiles/BestPractices.pdf

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 8, 2010 8:18 am

    When I worked for a national association, I got a lot of calls from local staff who wanted to start a mentoring program. Lots want to do it, but few really got something off the ground. This is very helpful, thanks for starting a blog to share this information.

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