Many younger employees are encouraged to find mentors where they work. And many companies in NYC, New Jersey and Connecticut encourage mentorship programs. Everyone generally agrees that mentorships can be valuable programs for both mentor and mentee.
Often, however, because there are really no guidelines on how or what a mentor should do to help his or her charge, mentorships are not as productive as they could be. Here are a few ideas on how to make mentorships more effective.
Mentors need to choose mentees carefully.
As a mentor, you are giving up a not insignificant chunk of your valuable time, and you don’t want to waste it on someone who is disagreeable or not willing to put in the effort. One way to determine if the prospective mentee is willing to engage with you is to give the person an assignment and see how he or she does. For example, you can give them a book to read, or have them write an a review of an article, or make a presentation. If he fails to do the assignment, you may want to reconsider taking him on.
Have a mentor team.
These days, it is rare that one person has the overall expertise and time to mentor a person exclusively. So, it is best to have a team of mentors to work with a person. Each mentor can tutor the mentee in the mentor’s area of expertise, and mentors don’t have to spend as much time doing it.
Set up guidelines.
First of all, the mentor needs to find out what expectations the mentee has for the relationship, so the mentor can get an idea of how they match up with the mentor’s own conception of how things will be done. It is important right from the start that both mentor and mentee are on the same wavelength as far as what they want and expect to get from working together.
Set up a plan for when and how often the mentor and mentee will communicate.
Finally, there needs to be accountability on the part of the mentee as well. The mentee needs to understand that he or she needs to adhere to certain performance standards – work must meet expectations and the mentee needs to meet deadlines and make appointments on time. The mentee should be tasked with creating an agenda for meetings with the mentor.
The mentee needs to understand that he or she is in effect the mentor’s student and should understand that he will receive criticism and that repeated mistakes will not be tolerated.
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