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The mentor is now the Mentor – 7 Mentoring best practice for mentors

Mentoring best practice for mentors is discussed in this article. Mentoring was an uncommon privilege. Tuning into a higher frequency, the mentor imparted wisdom to the mentee. Older, majestic and impeccable, the mentor sat on a hallowed chair and the mentee sat respectfully at his feet. Almost always, a mentee showed allegiance to just one mentor. And then life changed.

Mentoring is not a new concept. It has its roots in ancient Greece. And throughout the millennia, mentoring – providing guidance and counsel to a younger individual which has occurred spontaneously as an informal relationship. In the odyssey (written by Homer, a Greek poet), Odysseus (known as Ulysses in the Latin translation) was preparing for the TROJAN war when he realized he would be leaving behind his only son and heir, Telemachus. Since the child was young and wars typically dragged on for years, Ulysses entrusted Telemachus’ care and education to Mentor, his wife and trusted friend.

Today, mentoring is a process in which an experienced person develops his or her goals and skills through a series of time limited, confidential, one -on-one conversations and other learning activities. Mentors also draw benefits from the mentoring relationship. As a mentor, you will have the opportunity to share your wisdom and experiences, evolve your own thinking, develop a new relationship and deepen your skills as a mentor.

Mentoring Best Practice for Mentors – Why is there a need to create a proper mentorship program template/ tool kit?

Mentoring is a time proven strategy that can help young people of all circumstances achieve their potential. Mentors are caring individuals who, along with parents or guardians, provide young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and a constructive example. As a mentor they need to play a multi role which has become the need of the hour to bring stability and career building of young populations. Nature and style of mentoring have changed now, parents, students and any professional organization expects a lot from a structured mentorship program. 

In recent years, as growing numbers of people recognized the tremendous power of mentoring. Formal mentoring like many cropping up throughout the public and private sectors. Consequently, we have seen a growing need for skilled mentors and effective mentoring programs that adhere to sound management and operation practices.

Building a successful mentoring program is challenging. There are a myriad of components to establish and oversee: the actual process: mentor recruitment and training: day to day operations, public relations efforts: fundraising activities, budget allocations, evaluating data collection and tracking and more.

It may seem a bit daunting: where do I begin? What should I focus on first? How do I do all these things effectively?

All answers will be available when we create a structured template or design the program by following proven, effective mentoring practices and strategies. 

Mentorship program Guidelines: 

The program guidelines and planning stage enables you to create a road-map of how you will manage, implement and evaluate your mentoring program.

Start with the need: 

Your decision to start a mentoring program stems from your belief that a need exists for such a program. Next you will need to confirm that people are ready and willing to invest in your program (with financial help, human resources, in kind gifts etc) and that demand and support for your program services will be ongoing. Finally, you need to determine whether your organization has the capacity, commitment and capability to run a quality mentoring program.

The most important phase of program to determine the following:

  • Which youth population your program will serve.
  • What specific type of mentoring you will offer.
  • Where mentoring pairs will meet.
  • Whom you will partner with (a school, corporation, faith based community)
  • Whom will you involve as advisors, staffs and participants

Let’s look briefly at each guideline and how it will help to shape a program:

Define the youth population that the program will serve: 

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Some of the Best Practices for Mentors

1.Based on the results of your need assessments, you will be able to identify certain characteristics about the youth you want your program to serve. The following are some of the factors to consider:

  1. Age: do you wish to serve elementary, middle or high school youth?
  2. Gender: do you intend to serve boys or girls or both?
  3. Mentoring need: do you want to help youth improve their reading or academics? Or are you looking to help them improve their social skills and relationship with others?
  4. Common characteristics: are you looking with a specific audience for example youth with disabilities or from a certain income bracket. 

2. Identify the types of individuals you will recruit as mentors: 

Once you have decided on your target youth population, you can refine your criteria for the type of people you wish to recruit as mentors.

While your resources for mentors may be plentiful, actually recruiting mentors can be challenging because you are asking people to volunteer a precious commodity: their TIME. By offering flexible options you can help to overcome their reservations.

3.Determine the type of mentoring program will offer: 

After you define the youth generation you want to serve and the kinds of individuals you intend to recruit as mentors, you must determine the type of mentoring you will offer. 

Responsible mentoring can take many forms: traditional mentoring, group mentoring, team mentoring, peer mentoring and e-mentoring. One -on-one mentoring and peer mentoring will require more mentors than other types of programs. Group and team mentoring will allow you to reach more youth with fewer mentors and e-mentoring will be the least restrictive in terms of bridging the geographic and time difference. 

4. Discuss any required program activities: 

Decide if the program will have required activities such as kick off meetings between mentors and mentees or other structured mentor/mentee group activities to monitor progress and create community.

5. Determine operational practices: 

  • For program duration, identify when the mentor relationship starts and stops.
  • For recruitment, discuss who the target audience is and how to market and promote the program.
  • In regard to the mentoring relationship, how mentees are paired, establish rules about confidentiality and determine what type of recognition should be used to acknowledge mentor and mentee participation.
  • To assess the mentoring program, consider formal surveys, interviews or focus groups to learn if participants were satisfied with the program, if needs were being met, what benefits occurred, the frequency of meetings and any perceived impact.
  • Establish a case protocol to ensure that the program has regular contact with both mentors and mentees about their relationship. 

How to build a successful mentoring program: A quick summary

Key design: The starting point for any mentoring program begins with 2 important questions:

  1. Why are you starting this program?
  2. What does success look like for participants and organizations?

To answer these questions you will need to dive deep to understand your target audience. Make sure you understand exactly who they are, where they are, their development needs and their key motivation to participate.

Successful program offers both structure and flexibility. Structure provides participants a mentoring work flow to follow and is critical to help participants to achieve productive learning that reaches defined goals.

Similarly, flexibility is essential to support varying individual mentoring needs across specific learning goals, preferences and learning styles.

Key design decisions include:

  • Enrollment
  • Mentoring style
  • Connection type
  • Duration
  • Social aspects

Attracting participants: 

The best designed mentoring program won’t get far without effective promotion, mentor recruitment and training. When new mentoring programs are introduced in any organization there is generally natural enthusiasm. Yet this enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into high participation rates. A common reason is the absence of effective promotion. This area needs to be focused more because in this stage live interaction will be there which needs to be conducted with effective ways to give a long lasting impression about the program.

Connect mentors and mentees: 

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Connect Mentors and Mentees

A productive mentoring relationship depends on a good match. Matching is often one of the most challenging aspects of a program. Participants will bring various competencies, backgrounds, learning styles and needs. A great match for one person may be a bad match for another. Matching starts by deciding which type of matching you will offer in your program like self- matching, admin -matching. The more you know about your participants, the better chance your participants will have for a great fit and a happy, productive mentoring outcome. 

Guide relationship: 

Now that your participants are enrolled, trained and matched, the real action begins. It is also where mentoring programs can get stuck. 

  • Keeping focus: most mentorship will take off and thrive. But some may not why? Because typically, mentoring is not part of one’s daily routine. Without direction and plan, a mentoring relationship is vulnerable to losing focus and momentum. That is why providing some structure and guidance throughout the mentorship is vital.
  • Goals plans and resources: one best practice is to ensure all mentorships have goals and action plans. This serves two purposes, a. it brings focus at the onset which helps a mentorship get off to a good start, b. it adds accountability to accomplish something. Provide all mentoring relationships with timely and relevant help resources throughout the mentorship.

Measure results: 

Understanding how your program measures up to expectations may well be the most important phase of all. Mentoring is a significant investment when you consider program management, infrastructure and the valuable time of participants. Articulating the impact is essential to secure ongoing funding and support.

  1. Tracking progress: mentoring programs should be tracked, measured and assessed at 3 altitudes; the programs, the mentoring connection and the individual. 
  2. Examine interactions: for mentoring interactions, you want to understand behavior to identify roadblocks and opportunities. Common questions you will want to ask :
  • Is the mentoring time frame too long, too short or just right?
  • Are mentorships getting off to fast track or lagging?
  • Are participants leveraging content resources you have provided?
  1. Collect the feedback: for participants, you want to understand the impact of mentoring in terms of outcomes while acquiring program feedback. One of the easiest ways to capture outcome and feedback is through surveys.

Ask participants and stakeholders how well the mentoring program met their goals and goals of the organization. Also ask them for their ideas for improving the programs.

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DONN S.KABIRAJ on Mentoring

DONN S. KABIRAJ, personal branding expert, believes that “an effective mentor-mentee collaboration is the key of any successful mentoring program which is possible only in an atmosphere of informality and friendship. Of what use is A well – crafted mentoring program if it doesn’t help the mentor and mentee connect and work together?”

Other Suggested Reads: MENTORING BEST PRACTICES

Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™

– Sowmya Hosabettu

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