The importance of training to design and structure your mentoring programmes for success

Importance of training to design and structure your mentoring programmes for success

Effective mentoring programmes don’t just happen.  We know this from the number of mentoring programmes which are started with a lot of enthusiasm but don’t deliver the results they set out to, or the ones that don’t take off altogether. Whether it’s a mentoring programme for businesses, youth, schools, or whichever other organisation and institution, when we look deeper at the skills and experience of the people running mentoring programmes, they often – through no fault of their own – have little experience of best practice in mentoring programmes. For that reason, they are unable to draw on these best practices which can make all the difference between a successful and mediocre mentoring programme.

When it comes to mentoring programmes, there’s no one-size-fits-all design. If your aim is to design and run a high-performing mentoring programme, you need to identify and understand the key factors that influence this, and where you need to focus your efforts. The starting point will always be your goal and resources – what you are trying to achieve with your programme, and what people and resources you have at your disposal. Working within these parameters, there are key design principles to consider, as well as pitfalls to look out for in order to make your programme effective and yield fruit.

If you are the person in charge of a mentoring programme, make sure you have the knowledge and skills to set up a mentoring programme which really creates value to those who participate. Here are 5 key reasons why you should join our REMP programme and building your knowledge around managing mentoring programmes: 

  1. You’ll prevent your lack of experience from jeopardising the success of the programme

It may seem relatively simple and intuitive to set up and run a mentoring programme; after all you are just recruiting and matching mentors and mentees – right? Not quite! You might match a mentor to a mentee, but how do you support them to build that personal connection, so important for peak rapport, which delivers the most value for mentoring?

“We found great technical mentors and made perfect matches for our mentees, based on their area of interest and skills. They worked together for a week and then didn’t have much more interaction; the technical side was a good match, but beyond that, they had nothing else to share. ”

— Programme manager

A mentoring programme is more than just one person with more experience talking to someone with less experience. Those mentoring conversations need to be meaningful and help the mentee achieve their goals. Without the right training, a mentoring programme manager would essentially be conducting a tick-the-box exercise that forces two people without real rapport into hours of conversations that end up being a waste of time.

If there is a single, consistent Achilles’s heel in organizational mentoring structures, it’s marginal mentoring. (IBID) Evidence indicates that poor mentoring can be worse for employees than no mentoring at all. Don’t waste your time setting up a programme if you are not clear on how it will deliver results. Chances are you will be at the helm of yet another bad mentoring programme if you do.

2. You’ll understand what mentoring is so that you can be able to influence others

There are as many different definitions of mentoring as there are experiences. And while mentoring can be many things to many people there are some common threads. Above all, mentors empower their mentees. They listen, question, reflect and connect.

The most effective mentors help their mentees to see things in a different light, and take action where they may not have dared before.  Mentors who jump in with solutions or advice, or start teaching their mentee something which they already know cannot really be called mentors. They may lead mentees down a wrong path or demotivate them altogether.

If, as a mentoring programme manager, you also don’t understand the art of mentoring, you won’t be able support your programme participants adequately and will be complicit in continuing this misconception.

3. You’ll understand how to ensure that your mentors have the right skills to mentor effectively.

All too often, it is assumed that successful business people and entrepreneurs make effective mentors. It is also believed that they can do so with little to no training whatsoever, and that the art of mentoring is innate and/or easy to acquire.

If you’ve never had a mentor before, you may lack the discourse or mental map to do it well. This can lead you to imposing your ways of thinking to your mentee, or making them heavily reliant on your direction for decision-making. It’s things like this and more that would make your mentoring programme a marginal programme and give mentoring a bad rap.

In an organisational setting, ill prepared mentoring programmes can inhibit retention, employee development and commitment, which are the very objectives that mentoring initiatives seek to solve.

By understanding what constitutes an effective mentoring programme, you’ll be better poised to support your programme participants to get the right training that supports the mentee and programme goals.

4. You’ll be inspired on how to motivate your programme participants and create a culture of mentoring within your ecosystem

In order to get buy-in to your programme, you need to understand who the participants will be and what they stand to gain from your mentoring programme. The participants will be mentors, mentees, programme sponsors and any other supporting roles. Each of them will have different reasons and drivers for joining a mentoring programme.

Understanding the things to keep on your radar when designing a mentoring programme, and the common pitfalls that mentoring programmes fall prey to will help you institute tried-and-tested workarounds to mitigate them. It will also help you develop a concise pitch that speaks to and addresses each of your participants’ pain-points or challenges so as to inspire and motivate them to be a part of your programme. You’ll be able to clearly articulate to your teams what they can expect and how your programme will  provide a solution to their challenge.

When you know what you are doing or supposed to be doing, you are more confident in your abilities and execution. This will in turn shine through to the programme participants and they will trust that they are in good hands.

5. The skills will serve you for your whole career.  

When you are trained for a particular role or skill, your efficiency and proficiency of the role goes up. You are less likely to make common minor mistakes, and will identify challenges and troubleshoot solutions much easier and faster. You will be able to work with little to no supervision and also experience role or job satisfaction that will increase your morale. That, in itself can boost the quality of your work, setting you up for promotions in the future.

Training as a mentoring manager will give you an edge in future roles, especially if you have successfully managed to set up effective mentoring programmes and embedded them within your organisations or hubs. Increasingly, employers and organisations are looking to set up and run mentoring programmes. A well prepared and trained mentoring programme manager, who knows and understands what determines and differentiates a successful mentoring programme from a marginal one, can make all the difference.

Join our REMP Programme now to get all the knowledge and practice you need to set up your mentoring programme for success!  

Running Effective Mentoring Programmes Course

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