Tips for a Successful Mentorship Program
While settings and target groups may be different, a few principles tie virtually all successful mentor programs together.
- Literally hundreds of decisions can be made in designing a mentoring program. There is no one right way. The key is to design the program so that it fits the culture of the organization or setting in which it will operate. Mentoring experts call this: cultural fit.
- Closely related to cultural fit is clarity of goals. What is the purpose of the mentoring? What will it achieve or accomplish? What results ought to occur if a mentoring program is successful? Once the goals are identified, it is much easier to make decisions regarding various program elements and it is possible to use the goals as a way of determining whether the program detail is on track or off track.
- Connecting mentors with the person(s) being mentored is a crucial element of any program. In general, however, the key to a successful match is NOT the degree of similarity between the mentor and the partner. The key is the mentor's ability to tune in to, understand and accept what the partner is experiencing. This kind of ability to communicate can be enhanced with training. Therefore, training mentors is typically more important than finding mentors with similar characteristics.
- The success of the mentoring match is dependent on MONITORING that relationship that develops between the partners. In other words, it is not helpful to just match people up, and let whatever happens happen. Therefore, someone has to take responsibility to check regularly with each partner to determine how it is going, what each one is getting and not getting from the connection.
- Persons who volunteer as mentors must be assured in action (not just in words) that they will be getting something valuable out of being a mentor; that their time will be well-spent, that they will grow or learn, etc. Mentors need to experience value, what we call MUTUALITY, when they interact with their partners. It cannot be a one way relationship where the mentor does all the giving.
These orientation tips let you know that there are some generic aspects to mentoring. You may be able to apply these ideas right away or at least determine how well they might apply to your population since you are more familiar with their characteristics, setting, and circumstances.
Source: Peer Resources - Navigation Tools for the Heart, Mind and Soul™
Copyright © 2006 by Peer Systems Consulting Group Inc.