As with any job, mentoring is made more potent if you have the right tools—tools of the trade if you will. They might look a little different from other tools commonly used in work—you won't find any hammers or electric drills here, but they are equally 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.
Let us discuss the thought in depth.
Program Outline and Worksheet
Think of this as a partnership agreement. The program outline and worksheet allow 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 in outlining their expectations of the mentorship. The worksheet's objective is to get the mentee thinking about what they want out of the program and understand what the mentorship would entail.
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, stay on track, and see the relationship's progress. 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 a schedule for ongoing communication via an online platform, email, phone, and face-to-face meetings
- Complete mid-mentorship evaluations and review
- Comprehensive end-of-mentorship assessment 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 critical. Regular and accessible communication between a mentor and mentee will build trust, accountability, and confidence. However, having adequate means of communication can sometimes be challenging, especially in the busy world we stay 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 home base 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 a 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 for 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 significant components of a successful mentorship 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. 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 to gauge progress.
Many ideas, suggestions, and pieces of advice will be exchanged during a mentorship. It's hard to keep track of all that information, especially if you're working full-time 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 to 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 where true equality is achieved, and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.