Mentoring - Frequently Asked Questions
What commitment is involved?
Training programs vary according to the needs of the company. With Coaching there may be a specific skill set required to learn and therefore will have specific timelines for both the Coach and the Partner. Mentoring programs vary depending on whether it is formal or informal programs, training necessary to begin, depending on the commitment of the Mentor and Partner, and depending on the follow-up and support sessions for the Mentors. Attendance at all events is essential for continuity. Preparation for meetings and the face-to-face meetings themselves all take time. Some of our more successful programs include the following:
Can I be a partner (mentee) and a mentor at the same time?
- need for a small committee to organize, manage, recruit mentors, and maintain the Mentor Program.
- 2-3 days of training induction at the beginning for the mentors.
- 2-3 workshops for mentors and partners based on specific topics relevant to the work setting.
- Minimum of 1-2 hour meetings between the mentor and partner, at least once per month.
- 2 hour meeting with mentors at the end to summate the process and make recommendations for the following year.
Not usually. However, some organizations have a few people who act as a mentor and a mentee simultaneously. This does work effectively when planned for appropriately.
What if I (mentor) can't deliver what my partner (mentee) expects of me?
The matching process is important. The organizing committee sets out a detailed application form for both the mentor and mentee. The application form sets out the requirements corresponding with experience and skills for the mentor and mentee and then a match is set. The program induction will equip you with some basic tools to help the mentor carry out the role of the mentor. The induction program may also set out the mentee's expectations or the mentor may do that in the first meeting with the mentee. It is the responsibility of the partner (mentee) to determine the goal set with support from the mentor. Should the match not be working, then it is referred back to the steering committee and/or the mentor helps the mentee with a different match. Being open and honest is most appropriate.
With whom will I be matched?
Mentees are matched with a mentor based on the application form. When you register you will be asked about the skills and experience you have to offer, and you also have the option of specifying the kind of person you are looking to mentor. When a mentee registers, they specify what areas they are seeking support in and what skills and experience they are looking for in a mentor. During the matching process a member of the Steering Committee will be in touch with you to talk through the match and confirm suitability. You will get to meet your match for the first time at an induction event.
Do I have enough experience to be a mentor?
Anyone with life experience can be a mentor. However, the level of experience needed really depends on what the mentee needs for growth. The more "Mentor Leadership Training" the mentor has, the more effective they will be as a mentor.
Training makes a differenece. Mentees register with very different needs such as:
- help in adjusting to a new job and faculty
- taking on more responsibility
- managing staff
- gaining an understanding of the work setting
- knowledge of job hunting
- improving confidence
Mentors who have been trained become better listeners and learn how to ask effective questions and are able to support just about anyone.
How will I be matched?
You will be matched according to what the mentee needs and what the mentor can bring to the table in terms of support.
Mentors have tended to come from across job settings including project managers, technicians and supervisors, etc. Some companies keep this process open to all applicants and some restrict access depending on departments.
How do I bring closure to the mentoring relationship?
There is an ideal time to bring closure to the relationship, although many mentors and mentees do agree to stay in touch informally. Usually formal programs last from the fall to the beginning of the summer. Vacations tend to break the pattern so it is wise to end a formal program before a significant break. Within the Peer Mentor.net "Mentor Leadership Training" Program, there is training time spent on "How To Begin" and "How To End" the mentor relationship. There are specific things to do to end with grace and courtesy. The bottom line is to treat others as you would like to be treated.
I have not heard from my mentee in a while and I am concerned that the relationship is not progressing.
The mentee should drive the relationship; we ask them to arrange the meetings and set objectives. At the first meeting you should discuss preferred methods of communication, work schedules and availability and even set up rough dates for the meetings, which should help to avoid problems of this kind. However, some mentees may need more support than others. They may be nervous about making contact, or may be struggling to prioritise time when they will concentrate on their personal development due to a heavy workload. You should try to make contact with them, and if you are still experiencing problems, contact a member of the organizing group.
What can I do if our meetings seem to be running out of steam?
Although the mentee should drive the relationship and set objectives, the mentor should spend time thinking about how to meet those objectives, and perhaps planning activities for the mentee. Mentees may need help making other contacts, externally and internally. Mentees often need to build contacts and may need a fair amount of discussion on how to make these contacts. A reality of our day is that most jobs are acquired through nepotism. When perusing a high volume of resumes, managers will often go with who they know.
Where should the meetings take place?
Mutually convenient places which suit both parties are best. Some mentors have the meetings in their offices, others in cafes, training rooms etc. It is often best to meet somewhere impartial and to consider noise levels. Be aware that Mentor Programs are not a dating service and are intended for staff support. The meeting should be in a safe place.
What if I decide I don't want to continue with the program?
All mentees and mentors should make a commitment to the total program. Although not necessary, it is recommended that they sign a contract with a specific time line and a minimum number of meetings. Sometimes a mentee will get uncomfortable because of the questioning techniques of the mentor. Sometimes these challenges need to be met face on and can be quite difficult. Finish what you start.
Do you have any tips and advice about how to get the most from the program?
- Be organised and committed
- Choose the most effective time and place for meetings
- Take notes
- Listen hard to tough questions (especially the ones that make you uncomfortable)
- Prepare for meetings
- Set and agree on objectives
- Be open and assertive
- Be punctual and re-schedule with plenty of warning
- Give the relationship time to work
- Attend all the workshops and events as part of a larger process