Avoiding Pitfalls in Mentoring Relationships, Part II of III

By Misti Burmeister

In the March newsletter, I shared my story regarding my experience with a mentoring program through ABC Organization. The following is a continuation of that newsletter. If you would like to first read part I, please visit www.inspirioninc.com/blog/index.phpThe following are the first five tips to consider when creating a mentoring program:

Tip One: Define The Purpose

I invite you to define the purpose of the mentorship program, what the participants will get out of the mentoring relationship, and what you ultimately want to achieve by offering such a program.

Tip Two: Ensure Leadership Engagement

Leaders set the stage for every initiative. When they are engaged, it is seen by others as important and worth getting involved. Likewise, if leadership is unwilling to participate, the program is less likely to be successful.

Tip Three: Mentors must be opt in only

Not everyone wants to be a mentor, nor is everyone suited to the part. If someone does not want to be a mentor, don’t force it. Clearly explain the process involved in mentoring and let participants know they will have support. For example, having an outside consultant there to answer any questions and provide guidance is helpful. Demonstrate the personal reward in participating in such a program. The right people will get involved (those actually wanting to mentor) and will do a great job mentoring.

Tip Four: Advise Mentors To Be Patient With Mentees

At times, a seasoned professional may have an aggressive tone, which, to a young professional may feel like they are being told, “My time is too valuable for you.” Perhaps the mentor had a bad day or is frustrated with too much on their plate. Instead of managing their situation and asking their mentee to reschedule, or perhaps bowing out of the program altogether, they appear aggressive towards their mentee. (This is why choosing to be a mentor, must be just that, a choice, and never mandatory.)

A sharp and confident young professional may take the time to let a seasoned professional know how they are coming across. But not everyone is skilled or confident enough to do so, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Truly, a young professional’s time is just as valuable and if treated in an abrupt manner, most people will simply move on to another mentor or another company.

Tip Five: Training for Mentors

Mentors must get training on how to be a mentor and how to receive reverse (cross generational) mentoring, regardless of experience.

Many times, people who volunteer to mentor have no real understanding of how to mentor successfully. Some think mentoring is simply about giving advice and many do not understand how to deal with certain situations, regardless of experience level or age. Set the stage for success by providing your mentors with a strong training workshop on being a mentor.

In my May newsletter, I will share the final five tips for creating effective mentoring programs.

Read more on Mentorship Programs in Misti’s new book, From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, available beginning March 7, 2008 on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.Offered with respect,Misti Signature

Misti Burmeister, Founder/CEO, Inspirion Inc

© Inspirion, Inc. 2008. Copying and distribution of this article without modification is permitted in any medium without royalty, provided that the copyright notice and this notice are preserved.