BUILDING EFFECTIVE MENTORING PARTNERSHIPS

Summary

 

The purpose of mentoring is to establish a formal relationship between two people, a mentor and a mentee, with learning and development at its core and the fulfillment of clear and mutually defined goals as its intention. The purpose of your participation in this training was to better understand the relationship process and acquire the knowledge and skills that will allow you to succeed in establishing and benefiting from a mentoring relationship.

In this training, by section, you learned that:

MENTORING OVERVIEW  

The main difference between mentoring and coaching is that the coach helps the “employee” do his or her job better and the mentor helps the “mentee” make the transition to self-development and to achieve goals beyond the present job situation.

A mentor serves as role model, coach, broker and advocate. All of those defining roles require key characteristics to include a positive view of others, a source of reliable knowledge, patience, and the ability to see the big picture.

A mentee must be goal-oriented, willing to initiate a positive learning experience, are eager to accept new challenges and accept personal responsibility for their success or failures.

The focus of mentoring has changed to align with the principles of adult learning. Adults learn best when they are self-directed and can exercise immediacy of application. The responsibility for planning, implementing and evaluating learning has shifted from mentor directed to the mentee being a full partner in setting direction and availing themselves of a multitude of venues for knowledge and skill reinforcement.

Mentoring brings benefits to everyone involved in its practice. To name but a few:
Benefits for Mentees:
•  Enhanced training and career development
•  Increased self-awareness and self-discipline
•  An expanded personal network
•  Positive and constructive feedback on professional and personal development areas

Benefits for Mentors:
•  Satisfaction from helping others and seeing them progress
•  Increased awareness of personal biases, assumptions and areas for improvement
•  Renewed enthusiasm for their role as expert
•  Expanded networking opportunities

Benefits for the Organization: •  An environment that fosters personal and professional growth through the sharing of business information, skills, attitudes and behaviors
•  Increased role modeling of leaders developing other leaders and future officers
•  Increased membership satisfaction for mentees and mentors

A mentoring relationship goes through four phases: building rapport, setting direction, making progress, and winding down and transitioning to a professional relationship. Both mentor and mentee need specific competencies to sustain them through each stage.

TRAINING DESIGNED BY ROLE

Depending on which mentoring role you assumed, you were guided on which training to take and therefore what you learned:

MENTOR TRAINING
A mentor‘s role is to listen, provide constructive feedback and help their mentee consider options.

Among many of the qualities a successful mentor has are a personal commitment to help others be the best that they can be; respect for others and their ability to make choices; and being able to accept different points of view. You also learned how to avoid practicing counterproductive behaviors.

During the rapport building phase, two key competencies for a mentor to have are empathizing and active listening. You learned processes to expedite the acquisition and practice of both skills.

Asking open-ended, effective questions, when used correctly, encourage dialogue, require that mentees think through the issues, and disclose mentees' thoughts and feelings. You explored the use of three different types of effective questions: investigative, discovery, and empowering.

Providing feedback is critical to sustaining the mentoring relationship. How it is delivered is as important as what it contains. Constructive feedback is information-specific, issue-focused, and based on observations while praise and criticism are both personal judgments about a performance is generally vague, focused on the person, and based on opinions or feelings. You also learned how to effectively discuss delicate issues.

Successful mentoring relationships start with a Mentoring Partnership Agreement , a clear agreement about goals, procedures, and limitations so that the mentor and mentee have identical expectations.

MENTEE TRAINING

A mentee is responsible for deciding the amount of guidance they desire; the skills and competencies they want to acquire; and absorbing the mentor's knowledge and applying what they have learned.

Many mentors make the mistake of confusing “hearing” and “listening.” Listening is the interpretation of what you heard, followed by evaluation where you weigh the information, and finally, based on what you thought you heard and how you evaluated, you react. You learned that you can improve your active listening skills through the four steps of: listening for central ideas ; determining what is of personal value to you in your mentor's conversation; identifying and eliminating as many of your "trigger" words as possible, and learning to keep pace--speed of thought vs. speed of speech.

You reviewed many of the barriers to active listening and how to avoid them, to include forming a judgment before you understand what is being said; constant interrupting; and being inattentive.

As a mentee, it is essential that you be able to crystallize, clarify, and set realistic or SMART goals (Specific, measured, active, realistic and timed).

Even in a relationship that is as important to a career as a mentoring relationship, there can be disagreements or misunderstanding. Because it is important to make sure that you resolve differences appropriately, professionally, and respectfully, the use of “I”-messages or “I”-statements are a way of communicating about a problem to your mentor without accusing them of being the cause of the problem.

You learned that a Mentoring Action Plan (MAP) helps you translate your goals into easily executable and attainable steps based on your goals. A key component of your MAP is your ability to set goals that will serve as self-motivators helping you to focus your efforts in a consistent direction. You learned a systematic approach for setting goals.

MENTORING RELATIONSHIP EVALUATION

You learned that there are two major types of program evaluation: process evaluations and outcome evaluations. Process evaluations focus on whether a program is being implemented as intended, how it is being experienced, and whether changes are needed to address any problems. Outcome evaluations focus on what, if any, effects programs are having by, for example, compare goals to outcomes or examine differences between mentoring approaches.

A process evaluation can be facilitated using the following types of questions:
•  How is the mentoring partnership working?
•  What is working well?
•  What, if anything, is working not as well as you had hoped?
•  What are you both gaining from your experience of the process?

An outcome evaluation can be facilitated using the following types of questions:
•  How will I recognize when I've reached my goal(s)?
•  Do I invite my mentor to give me suggestions for how I can communicate better?
•  Have I built trust by talking about the topics of trust and confidentiality with my mentor?
•  Do I always take responsibility for scheduling our meetings?
•  Am I working on one or more measurable goals with the help of my mentor?
•  Have I told my mentor how and how often I want feedback?

What next? Mentoring works. Participants and organizations benefit. What happens in a mentoring partnership can have a profound impact on all involved. Open yourself to being an effective part of a learning relationship...think about what we all might become.

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