As with any job, mentoring is made more powerful if you have the right tools—tools of the trade, if you will. They might look a little different than other tools commonly used in work—you won’t find any hammers or electric drills here—but they are equally as important. Just like a teacher needs resources like a classroom, projector, textbooks, worksheets and assignments, a mentor needs the resources that will allow them to communicate with a mentee, track their progress, and build their skills.
Depending on whom you talk to, you could come up with a laundry list of appropriate tools for mentoring, so I’m only going to list some of the fundamental ones here. Without the right equipment, you’ll have a hard time effectively planning a mentorship or managing its progress.
Program Outline and Worksheet
Think of this as a partnership agreement. The program outline and worksheet allows you to lay out the terms of the mentorship, including your expectations of the mentee. The worksheet should include prompts that will assist the mentee is outlining their own expectations of the mentorship. The purpose of the worksheet is not just to provide the mentee with an idea of what the mentorship will entail, but also to get them thinking about what they really want out of the program.
Mentorships vary in length, but no matter how long or how short a mentorship lasts, it should always follow a clearly defined roadmap from beginning to end. Creating a timeline of activities will allow both you and your mentee to plan ahead, stay on track, and see the progress of the relationship. A typical mentorship timeline might include the following events:
- Mentor/Mentee matching
- Kick-off meeting for introductions
- Program outline and worksheet to set goals and expectations
- Set schedule for ongoing communication via online platform, email, phone, and face-to-face meetings
- Complete mid-mentorship evaluations and review
- Complete end-of-mentorship evaluations and program review
You’ll decide the timeframe your timeline will cover as well as the chronological order of events and corresponding dates. Keeping a clear timeline of events will give the mentorship momentum and set both you and your mentee on track for success.
Mentorship Management Platform
As with any mentorship, communication is key. Regular and easy communication between a mentor and mentee will build trust, accountability, and confidence. Having effective means of communication can sometimes be challenging, especially in the busy world we live in. A mentorship management platform like the one offered by MentorCloud allows you to leverage a powerful tool for mentorship management. Not only will you have an effective means of communication that is not restricted by schedules or location, but you’ll also have a central homebase for all of your mentorship needs. In addition to mentor/mentee interaction, a mentorship management platform allows you to share valuable information, track the progress of your mentorships, assign tasks to mentees, access resources like shared documents and videos, and collaborate with other mentors and mentees in the network. With this tool, you’ll be able to take your mentorships to the next level.
In terms of communication, face-to-face meetings are not always the viable option. What often happens with mentorships limited to in-person interactions is that time goes by and the meetings don’t take place, a practice that considerably reduces the effectiveness of a mentorship. Video conferencing can act as a supplement or even substitute to in-person meetings. With all the video conferencing technology at our fingertips today—and most of it free—it would be foolish not to take advantage of this valuable tool for mentoring.
Feedback is one of the major components of a successful mentorship, and that goes for both mentor and mentee. After you’ve set expectations and goals, followed a timeline of activities and events, and spent time interacting, completing tasks, and building skills, it’s time to evaluate each other and the program overall. Evaluations should be done in the middle of the mentorship and at the end, but it’s also reasonable to include a couple more at regular intervals just to gauge progress.
Throughout the course of a mentorship, a lot of ideas, suggestions, and advice will be shared. It’s hard to keep track of all that information, especially if you’re working fulltime and have other responsibilities. A learning notebook can be an effective means of recording all that valuable data, ensuring you’ll have an easy method of referencing it later and applying it to future mentorships or growing careers. Notebooks can be in digital or paper form, depending on preference. If used effectively, it’ll be a virtual treasure trove of priceless resources.
Building a mentorship with direction and momentum is a challenging endeavor, but having the right tools on hand will bring you that much closer to success. You'll put yourself on track to transforming your mentorship from mediocre into memorable.
If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.