4 important tools for your mentor program and the mentors.
Mentors need tools — make sure they have them.
Tools help your mentor lead discussions and facilitate expanded learning in mentoring.
1st. Make formal training programs part of a formal mentor program. It makes it easy for mentors to facilitate conversations if the mentee is enrolled in formal education of some type. The mentor and mentee can discuss how the training or schooling is going and the mentor can offer experiential feedback. If you are administering a corporate mentor program, make sure mentees have access to outside training and they are listed as an item in the session agenda.
Professional associations make it mandatory for their members to update best practices through industry approved training, which gives them credits that meet the association standards. If a particular position in your company doesn’t have a mandatory upgrade knowledge credit system, create one for your employees.
Seek out programs that enhance the mentees ability to serve. An example of formal training outside the company might be a communications course for those wanting to improve their conflict resolution skills. Another one might be special safety training for a company involved in construction projects. Leadership training is attractive to most employees and many jump at the opportunity to learn these skills. Universities offer many adult education programs that may fit with your industry. Have someone research them.
Send sales people to sales courses outside the company training system. Send IT people to courses for new development ideas or maybe on-line marketing. Search out on-line programs — there are many available for almost any field. Mentors will have fun talking about these courses.
2nd. Make sure the mentor program and session structure allow for some communication training and discussion. The number one business challenge that continually comes up for employees when we survey businesses is effective information and communication flow. When I talk to individuals about challenges at work or home, communication is often cited as the block.
Making communication and information flow part of the mentor-mentee session discussion automatically puts a focus on improving it. What humans focus on, expands. When mentors and mentees discuss communication effectiveness constructively, it improves for both.
Search out a communications course source that all employees can take to enhance their ability to communicate in tough circumstances and tense situations. Give mentors and mentees opportunity to learn and grow their ability to communicate effectively and your company will grow and communicate effectively.
3rd. Mentors need is a guide to follow in their mentor sessions with mentees. A form to fill out. They can have the mentees fill the form but having one to follow helps. Make sure it includes a list of different types of goals and objectives — short term and long term. Most of these items can be reviewed quickly. Others may need more time.
- Hard skill goals; ie. Industry skills, computer skills, etc.
Soft skill goals; ie: emotional attributes to build on, communication skills, etc.
Career goals; what does the mentee want their career to look like? Where do they want to be in 6 months, five years and ten years?
Relationship goals. (if it’s a work environment, focus on co-worker relationships. Although depending on the mentor-mentee relationship, this may move into discussion about personal relationships outside of work.)
4th.Give mentors feedback. Mentors typically want to help and when they are guided on how they could do this better, they like it. Have a system in your mentor program for mentees to give feedback to the mentor on how he or she sees the mentors’ effectiveness. This needs to be done gently with a good communicator, and may need a third party leader or facilitator, and permission has to be given by the mentor to receive it. The program administrator may be a good resource providing he or she has mediation skills.
These four tools can help you make your mentor program great. Thank you for reading.