Mentoring Best Practices

Posted by Kim Wise on Fri, Sep 21, 2018 @ 04:40 PM

WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTORING PROGRAM?

Three Best Practices From a Mentoring Expert

There are three best practices that must be followed for you to get the best results from your mentoring program. Without these,  your chances of success are slim.

1. Matching - Create Synergistic Matches That Produce Great Results.

Matching is about more than just putting people together. There is a science to it. We have to make sure they can talk to each other...understand each other...communicate well. After all, how many of us have time these days to have regular meetings with someone who is driven by values that we don't understand and who basically demands a lot of effort? Yes, I get that you would say, how can I match that way? Yes, of course, a matching algorithm is easier, but you can still create great matches on your own. I have faith in you!  

To truly maximize the results of a great mentoring partnership, these are the three most important factors in matching. Ask yourself:

  1. Do Mentor and Mentee have similar strengths? According to a study by the Gallup organization of 1.7 million professionals, senior executives don't shore up their weaknesses but rather add a team member who can fill them. I'm bad at marketing, I hire a great marketing guy. The senior executives surveyed spend all of their time working to expand their own talents and gifts. We believe that with strengths-based matching, we expand those strengths that carry us the furthest down the field.
  2. Does the Mentor embody what the Mentee wants to learn? Does the Mentor have the skills, interests and background from which the Mentee will best learn?
  3. Finally, matching is about connecting people who can easily communicate, can understand each other and those who truly trust each other. In other words, people who have similar mental processing styles, similar decision making styles and similar values. These are the traits that make transferring knowledge successful and fun rather than something that doesn't work. 

To truly maximize the effects of a great mentoring partnership, you'll want to take the most care in how you partner mentors and mentees.

2. Goal Setting - Mentees Set Achievable Goals.

Mentees should drive the mentoring partnership agenda by setting goals that are to be achieved during the partnership period. It allows the mentor to know how to plan discussions and it gives the mentee the ability to set a direction that can define that mentee's future life. 

In requiring goals for all program participants, you give yourself, as program administrator, a great way to show return on investment to the person holding the purse strings for your program. By measuring the gains  of your mentoring program, you'll get increased budgets for your program, maybe a fabulous matching algorithm and potentially all kinds of fun, additional tools.

3. Coaching and Guidance - Ongoing Coaching and Guidance Creates Successful Partnerships.

No matter how sterling a mentor pool you have, mentor and mentee coaching can make all the difference between success and failure. Whether your mentors are equipped with impressive interpersonal skills or not, ongoing tips and tools embedded into your process can make your mentors all stars. By establishing a step-by-step process, you teach best practices, standardize a mentoring process that is communicated throughout the organization, establish defined mentoring expectations and create a culture of mentoring where people share. 

I occasionally get people who feel that this sounds like too much or that your people wouldn't follow "rules" like this. You may be thinking that the people in your mentoring program are too sophisticated and that they wouldn't need this, that they already know what they are doing. To this I say that you may be right with a few of them. The primary reason we set this curriculum is to give mentors and mentees a defined process to follow, a language in common and consistent mentoring behavior to follow making them great Mentors and Mentees. Not only that, we reduce confusion. You'd be surprised to know how many differing understandings about mentoring there are out there. 

There is nothing more demoralizing to a Mentee than having a mentoring experience that doesn't work. Mentees talk. They know whose partnership is working well and they compare their experience with those best results they hear. By establishing a standard mentoring workflow, you create a consistent, successful experience for all participants. No rematching, no unhappy mentees, only the good stuff!  

If you have any questions about what I've shared, don't go away confused. Call or email us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Topics: Mentoring Best Practices, mentoring software, talent development, corporate culture, online mentoring, web-based mentoring, mentoring research, roi of mentoring