Client Challenge: " We run a mentoring programme every year, and every year we struggle to get the mentors to attend our kick-off events and actually schedule (and stick to) mentoring appointments."
The Message In general, mentoring programmes tend to focus on the mentee's learning. However, mentoring programmes should also focus on what the mentors can learn. In fact, both parties gain new knowledge and insights and develop new leadership competencies. Both parties 'give and take'; it is no longer the mentor 'giving' all the time. Establishing this reciprocity from the very beginning will help to motivate mentors to be as active as mentees in a mentoring programme.
Hierchical: Have the most senior mentors announce their attention to attend the kick-off event and send a note to all mentors that those who cannot attend must write a note to their mentee, which will be given to the mentee during the kick-off event.
Viral: Based on Herrero's model for behavioural change, identify a group of highly connected, highly visible and trusted mentors to become the 'pull' mechanism for new mentors to become more involved. Gather personal stories from them about the benefits they have achieved for themselves as mentors (through short interviews) and have them spread these stories through their own network and to the mentors, as well as via your intranet or other internal publications.
How Mentors Benefit
Here are just a few of the ways in which mentors can benefit from a mentoring programme, based on our Mentor+Model:
Mentors help mentees understand challenges, evaluate what happened, explore intentions, develop alternative solutions and prepare action plans. This process enables mentors to develop their ability to listen, observe, ask useful questions, withhold judgement, be empathetic, and influence when they have no formal authority and power. These are all extremely important leadership skills.
When mentors and mentees come from different professional backgrounds, and mentors describe their own experiences in handling professional tasks, they become more conscious of their own competencies and more skilled in communicating these in other contexts.
All mentoring relationships create at least one new network: the mentor/mentee relationship. Mentors and mentees can also help each other to develop new networks and to open their networks to each other.
Mentors learn what motivates mentees to consider a career and how mentees view the organisation. In today's labour market, where good employees are in great demand, it is useful to understand what attracts and encourages these employees to stay. Listening to mentees' stories and ambitions about jobs and careers can also give mentors valuable inspiration to focus on their own career and professional future.
To support mentees in navigating in the corporate environment, mentors become more conscious about how political life evolves in the organisation. For example, a new subculture or new informal power structures may have emerged within the organisation that the mentor may not have noticed. Mentors can use these insights to enhance their own leverage within the organisation.
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