After reading another 3 books about mentoring schemes, I come back to this same idea that participants need to be trained or at least prepared/informed about the mentoring process and relationship. First of all to clarify expectations. For example, Jane Cranwell-Ward, Patricia Bossons & Sue Gover define in their book “Mentoring, a Henley Review of Best Practice”, what mentees should expect such as “a sounding board and/or encouragement and/or a critical friend and/or some emotional support and/or a confidant and/or a source of knowledge”. Furthermore they clarify what the mentoring relationship should not be. Many mentees may enter into a mentoring relationship thinking that it will solve their career problems or get them promoted. Cranwell-Ward et al. point out that this relationship is not “an opportunity to fix day-to-day performance issues, purely sponsorship, purely coaching nor an opportunity for career advancement”. Once expectations are clearer for mentees, it is important to help mentors get into their role and understand the scope and limits of their responsibilities. To help them we need to answer the following questions :
– What are the outcomes and expectations ? Are they expected to provide certain results ?
– Who are they going to mentor ? Where do they fit ? How are they going to be matched ? The matching process needs to be transparent, consistent and coherent. We will see this point in more details in another article.
– What do you tell mentees about the mentor ? What is the degree of confidentiality ?
– What happens if they don’t get on ? The process of disengagement needs to exist and to be a “no-blame divorce” to ensure they can part easily and continue on being mentor for others or being mentored by anothe rmentor.
– Do the mentor have the knowledge or experience ? The question of legitimacy is important to address, in the selection of mentors, in the building of mentors self-confidence in their role, and in the attraction of mentees.
– How much time will it take ? In order to engage and commit to that relationship, mentors with busy schedules need to know if they’re going to be abke to free enough time to be available for their mentees.
These questions can be answered during a training session prior to the start of the mentoring scheme. Cranwell-Ward insists “Research has shown that relationships are 3 times more likely to succeed if both mentee and mentor are trained.”