Understanding good practice in workplace mentoring
Understand the context for effective workplace mentoring
AC 1.1 Describe and define the purpose of workplace mentoring
Workplace mentoring is a “learning partnership between employees for purposes of sharing technical information, institutional knowledge and insight with respect to a particular occupation, profession, organization or endeavor” . Mentoring is perhaps the best described as a developmental process – dynamic and unique to each person. If the process is done correctly, the organization could reduce turnover and increase output. It can be via two ways, formal mentoring and informal mentoring. Informal mentoring means that the mentoring is unstructured and unofficial. This is a situation where a new employee is taken care of and taught by a ‘qualified’ employee voluntarily (i.e. providing daily guidance, being “under his/her wing.”). As opposed the formal mentoring is done formally and in a structured process, often when it allows the organizations to create and nurture those relationships by matching more experienced employees (mentors) with less experienced employees (mentees) to meet specific objectives while helping those individuals in the mentoring relationship to encourage, identify and develop their own talents.
“Tell me and I forget.
Show me and I remember.
Involve me and I understand”
AC 1.2 Explain the role, remit and responsibilities of an effective workplace mentor
In my opinion as of the basics you need to have a clear understanding of why you want to be a mentor and have a realistic assessment of your skills and experience. Secondly have a clear understanding of your expectations for your mentee and clearly communicate these to him/her. Both speaking, listening and be able to commit the necessary time to each mentee is a really important ability. Also show flexibility within any changes of the expectations or the plan. Create goals for the mentee with milestones and deliverables but with being realistic about setting the timelines. Making sure you are working together and you are advising not dictating. In addition they need to remain objective, have a calm and patient manner, and bring a positive attitude to each session. Trying to give as much good example as you can however admit if you don’t know something. Help mentees move out their comfort zones and also celebrate their successes. On the other hand help the mentees understanding when things do not go as planned. Be always consistent, reliable, trust wordy, supportive and show empathy. Recognize your mentee’s weaknesses and build his/her strengths with a tailored guidance and offer your constructive feedback as well.
As well as there are benefits to the organization: a significant impact upon recruitment and retention, increased productivity through better engagement and job satisfaction, effective succession planning
AC 1.3 Describe the knowledge, skills and behaviour of an effective workplace mentor
Good mentoring always involves a wide range of skills, including coaching, counselling, consulting and teaching. Providing feedback is a key role of the Mentor. Mentees need to listen carefully to this, avoid becoming defensive, and look factually at their performance. Similarly, it is important to consider the behavior and actions that prompted positive feedback and what can be learned from this. Being Open-minded is another skill that you need to have. The Mentor will encourage Mentees to move out of their “comfort zone”. They will take different and sometimes challenging views on issues that affect the Mentee at work. There will be disagreements and these need to be handled constructively. Also the relationship will only work if both parties are honest with each other. Confidentiality is critical to the rapport. It is also important to regularly review how the relationship is progressing and to recognize when it is appropriate to terminate the relationship.
AC 1.4 Explain what a workplace mentoring contract should include to ensure a quality, ethical mentoring relationship
In my opinion before you enter into a mentoring relationship, it is important to have a clear agreement between yourselves of what the shape and nature of the relationship will be. It is advised that before a mentorship is started, the mentor and mentee meet to talk and agree the basis of their working relationship. In my view a good mentoring contract should answer the below questions
• What do you want to achieve from the relationship?
• What are the limits of the relationship?
• How will you handle confidentiality?
• How is mentoring support different from research supervision, appraisal and counselling?
• The roles and responsibilities of the mentor and mentee.
Also it is always helpful to agree on the general areas by following the code of ethics which you are both comfortable as the main focus for mentoring. In any limits, conflicts of interest, fairness or discrimination queries can be useful to come to an agreement prior. Last but not least the practical queries about the whereabouts, regularity of the meetings, and availability between meetings, holidays or the weekend. The data protection and confidentiality should be extra clauses is the contract nailing down the rights and responsibilities around these really sensitive areas.
Understand the process for effective workplace mentoring
AC 2.1 Explain how a model of mentoring can be used to manage a workplace mentoring relationship
The mentoring process in my opinion should build up like the below. Start with an initial meeting where both parties should explain and agree the purpose of the mentoring relationship also the format of the meetings and how these will work. It is important to come to an understanding what each sides will commit to and what is expected from mentees, mentors and their role. A mentor sessions in my eyes could have the following elements included. A review of experience should be really useful. Identifying objectives and providing feedback also recognise strengths, achievements and parts of development are one of the most important objectives for a mentor. Mentoring does sometime need a bit of coaching on specific areas. Discuss professional issues and agree in the support what the mentee needs. Set targets for future actions which is achievable and also create opportunities for mentees to gain experience. As of the third “phase” both parties are moving on by identifying when the relationship reaches a natural end. A review and the sign off of the objectives is necessary in helping the mentee to identify the next steps. Review on the effectiveness of the relationship could be beneficial for both parties.
The GROW model is a good way to structure a meeting with the mentee. You can both start with the goal and work logically through the model or you can move the model around, starting with the reality and then the goal, if this works best depending on the mentees personality. Always finish with the way forward and ensure that this is set and possessed by the mentee. The goal is to get the focus on the future and on what the mentee wants to achieve as an individual. This is not where the mentor thinks he/she should be aiming. Reality is to ask questions to help the mentee establish where they are now. If the mentor works with the individual directly may need to give some feedback on actual performance. If the mentor do not work with them directly encourage the individual to get feedback on their performance from their direct line manager as this will help them to identify their current reality. Options could help the mentee to identify what different choices are open to them and ask questions to help them explore the reality of each of these options. Share your experiences if the mentee is struggling to identify sufficient options and beware of being too directive. Way forward is to encourage the mentee to propose an action plan which they have set and encourage them to set SMART objectives, objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable and realistic for the mentee in their current position and that have clear timescales attached.
AC 2.2 Explain the range of tools and techniques (including diagnostic tools and those exploring learning preferences) that can be used to support effective workplace mentoring
Mentors need to have tools and techniques that can accurately define what motivating people what are their values. My theory is that people are unpredictable. When you’re incoming a new relationship, you’re entering the unknown. It’s no wonder that when managers go on board on mentoring, they’re keen to collect all key mentoring tools and techniques that might help them. Reality is there are many mentoring tools and techniques. In their excellent book, “Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring”, David Megginson and David Clutterbuck are filling 13 chapters with different mentoring techniques. This book is a wonderful resource, but all that information is potentially overwhelming for someone who’s new to mentoring. At the heart of any mentoring relationship is a conversation. So the core mentoring tools and techniques are ones that enable and facilitate conversation. Help mentees identify what success looks like. As the Cheshire cat wisely says in Alice in Wonderland “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”. Helping mentees picture what success looks like is a great starting point for any development. One simple way to help mentees define what success looks like is to wave a “magic wand”. The mentor might ask “If you could wave a magic wand and things went perfectly, what would it look like?” The mentor then encourages the mentee to describe the positive, physical, detailed signs of the picture to bring it to light. Help mentees identify what’s already working. As a society, we are naturally deficit-focused. Our focus is typically on what’s not working, what problems we need to solve, what challenges we need to overcome. Even the optimists among us need help to focus on what’s already working. Mentors have a valuable role to play to help mentees identify what’s working. One simple technique is to use a scale of 1 to 10. The mentor might ask, “If you imagine a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the picture of future success you just described and 1 is the worst it has ever been, where are you today?” The mentor then explores why they are as high as they are on the scale, so the mentee can identify what’s already working that they can then build on. Help mentees produce ideas and alternatives for making progress. One powerful role a mentor has to play is to hold a mirror up to the mentee to remind them of their achievements and the skills and qualities that will help them make progress. Providing genuine positive feedback on what impresses them about the mentee will help to generate ideas for making progress. These 3 key areas are a simple starting point for a mentoring conversation but often the simplest techniques are the most powerful.
Also we can use specific tools as an employee appraisal, on the job assessments, psychometric testing, one – on – one meetings, self-assessments or peer assessments. These techniques all help to the mentor to understand the way how the mentee is thinking and support and lead to successful future picture. Active listening should be the number 1 tool for a good mentor as to recognize the mentee’s strength and weaknesses. During my researches I have read about the Five “Mys” : “My Style”, “My Career”, “My Craft”, “My Life”, “My World”. Each of them focuses on helping mentees manage the five aspects or “MYs” of their professional and personal lives. I think it is really important the understand all of them as we are all humans and our personal life can affect our working life no matter how hard we try not to.
AC 2.3 Explain why it is important to maintain basic records of workplace mentoring and what these should be contain
It is the responsibility of mentor to ensure that they adopt a systematic and detailed method of record keeping. This can be achieved by ensuring continued competence and adhering to identifiable and acceptable standards of practice. In addition, records provide evidence that due consideration has been given to the mentee they are engaging in their professional responsibilities more. The purpose of record keeping is to improve stability between sessions, to provide a record for the use of the mentor, and in some cases for the mentee. Also to enable assessment, planning and evaluation of progress. In addition, to allow the collection of basic statistical information for the purposes of departmental audit where mentoring is provided within an organizational context. This may include before and after outcome measures. Last but not least to provide a record that is clear, complete and up to date. The below guidelines reflect the general principles recommended by many professional organisations: legible, written in ink, dated, signed. The information should be: summarising, relevant, objective (non-judgmental). All entries should be: up to date (within 48 hours of a session), reflect the mentoring and signed after any alteration. Records kept in electronic form should follow the same guiding principles as those given for written records.
AC 2.4 identify any potential barriers to workplace mentoring and explain suitable strategies to overcome these barriers
Whilst effective mentoring can be a valuable part in organisations there are barriers to it being considered and used operationally. These supposed or actual barriers in organisations are valuable to understand and more importantly address in order to increase the possibility of success for any mentoring strategy or localised implementation.
The first barrier can be the not enough resources issue. Anxiety around a lack of resources is mostly due to: needing to create a mentoring program, not knowing how to do it, or being pushed to do it by an impossible date.
A mentoring program is not something that you can just throw together in a short amount of time and expect to produce results. This common misconception often prevents a program from getting off the ground before it even has a chance to begin. The solution might be to make sure you have a solid plan in place to ease this initial concerns. This plan should contain both a process that outlines how you intent to proceed, and a methodology that confirms not only what you are doing but also why you are doing it. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.
The second barrier is that leadership won’t buy in. Another misconception about mentoring is that it is a waste of time and money. Leadership wants to be sure nothing takes away from the bottom line and mentoring is not always valued within this equation, often because of the way it’s presented – that is to say, as a “nice to have” program. The solution can be a pitch mentoring as an organizational strategy with built-in KPIs and measurements to prove your success. Identify exactly what organizational objectives you can tie to mentoring. Indicate your success metrics to prove mentor training as something that should be taken seriously.
The third barrier can be that the participants won’t know what to do. What is a mentor? What is a mentee? What is mentoring overall? Don’t let the combination of no training or guidance and your participants’ misunderstanding of what their roles are result in an unsuccessful program and struggling mentors and mentees. The solution would be that to communicate your expectations continuously throughout the mentoring program. Make sure everyone is on the same page right when you begin to position mentoring within your organization. It is easier to start in the right place rather than to go back and make corrections when habits and patterns have already set in.
The job is not finished after you implement the program. Obstacles may arise that can throw your mentor training off-track, such as a new member with different ideas or problems within a mentor-mentee partnership. To avoid this, be sure to spot check throughout the program to ensure that everyone is still on the same page.
The fourth barrier might be the misconceptions about mentoring. “I won’t be able to work it in to my schedule.” Time is a big issue that always comes up with potential mentors. While they may have interest, they often think that they do not have enough time. However, mentoring is not a life-long commitment. It requires a commitment of about 8-12 months and is a time-efficient program that is beneficial to every party involved. Mentoring is not just for long-term career development or promotion. It also helps participants’ understanding of their organizational culture from different perspectives. If there is a choice between something directly business-related and something related to mentoring, the common choice would be to pick business. However, if you are in a mentor-mentee partnership, you are already working on business. It has a definitive value (if you’re being sure to measure and report) and ties into the organizational strategy (if you’ve planned correctly from the beginning). The solution could be to set expectations at the beginning by providing a strategic planning workshop and role profiles in order to set participants straight on the common misconceptions listed above, and further answer what the places and roles of mentors, mentees, and managers are in your program. Both mentors and mentees need a clear job description to understand the skills needed and to make sure they are qualified for their position. Additionally, don’t forget to make sure the managers know how they fit in to the mentor-mentee partnership because their guidance is the key to its success.
The fifth barrier can be the external pressures. Many times, external pressures such as the economy, budget cuts, and organizational issues negatively affect the process of getting your mentoring program started. When these types of situations happen, that is when you need mentoring the most. External pressures call for development from your organization, which is normally sustained through mentoring. However, when it comes to budget cuts, usually the first thing to go is training and development. The solution could be to track, report and measure. This process is four-fold. Ensure that leadership and management take the program seriously. Prove your success and point to specific problem areas and where you can improve.
There are two kinds of measurement you should be sure to use. Qualitative: This kind of measurement measures subjective experience. For example, if mentees are asked to express through a survey whether they got something beneficial out of the program or whether they were happy in their mentor-mentee partnership, these are two qualitative measures.
Quantitative: Quantitative measurements show the direct effect of the program’s return of investment on the organization’s strategy. The other way that mentoring can be measured is by comparing training costs with mentoring costs. Substantial savings can often be seen with the organizations that choose use mentoring either instead of training, or to supplement or support training. I am sure there are more barriers however I just wanted to highlight the ones are most important for me.