Tip #1: Answer the Unasked Questions
A manager or administrator for a mentoring program also wears the hat of internal customer service executive. This blog series will cover a few principles and techniques that I have found critical to a successful mentoring program.
From an administrative standpoint, what is a successful mentoring program? Every program administrator should define this for themselves based on the goals of the program as well and their own circumstances and expectations. For me, a successful program has the two following elements:
- Active participants who generate enough enthusiasm that more people want in on the action, thus growing the participation pool.
- Informed participants who clearly understand the program and have very few questions, concerns, or issues. This leaves the manager more time to successfully and efficiently maintain the program.
Today’s topic, “Answer the Unasked Question,” is a tip I learned many years ago when training to work as customer service representative in a call center. I have found it one of the most essential and versatile tips I have ever gotten. Essentially, it means this: whatever you do, whether it’s customizing your mentoring software such as Wisdom Share or creating e-mail or marketing materials for your program, make sure your information doesn’t bring up unintended questions or resistance because it wasn’t thorough enough. The benefit of following this principle is, first and foremost, clearer communication. Second, this translates to fewer repeat inquiries about the same issue. Here’s an example most of us are familiar with: the meeting invitation.
You’re invited to a meeting for mentors.
October 31, 2015 at 12:00
Main Training Room
After reading this invitation, what questions do you still have? You may be wondering, what kind of meeting? What will they cover? Since it’s at noon, will they serve lunch? How do I RSVP, and to whom? You can see why, in the above example, this meeting host will be deluged with questions about the event. They might even get repeat inquiries from the same invitee because the invitee didn’t grasp just how much information was missing before they reached out the first time. Clearly, the inviter didn’t stop to think, What questions might I be asked when I send this out? That is, they didn’t “Answer the Unasked Question.” So, after a bit of thought, our invitation may look more like this:
Mentors, you’re invited to a Mentoring Program Launch Lunch.
Learn more about the program and how to be a successful mentor!
A buffet lunch will be provided.
October 26, 2015, noon to 1 p.m.
This will be held in the Main Training Room on the 3rd floor.
RSVP by October 20, to Rebecca at (XXX) XXX-XXXX
In conclusion, when reviewing a poster, marketing material, invitation, e-mail, or any other communication, ask yourself, “What unintended questions will this information cause?” Armed with the answer, you’ll be able to edit accordingly.