How to Structure a Mentoring Program

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ACE (Association for Consulting Expertise) is a Portland, Maine-based group that has a critical mass of 60 consultants with varying levels of expertise for marketing, sales, operations management, and coaching to name a few. Our focus is to educate, inspire, and provide a supportive environment where people who provide consultative services feel they belong. “Success through collaboration” is our mantra.

During our monthly program on February 20th, I will be facilitating a forum on “How to Start a Mentoring Program.”

Most successful companies utilize mentoring programs to stimulate learning and creativity. Having a structured mentoring program, where members can take the time to develop their skills (and assist others in their education), offers great rewards to all those who participate, as well as the companies/groups that foster them.

Having been in my field for over 25 years, it has been a privilege to mentor several people. Educating my associates on the recruiting business and seeing them grow and thrive has been a wonderful experience; It has helped shape the person I am today.

Our preferred model is to hire people with no specific recruiting experience and train them. Mentoring that results in enhancing teammates’ performance is very gratifying, but it is by no means a given. Communication style, personality, receptiveness for feedback, and the ability to focus on the needs of the individual all contribute to success within a mentoring program.

The Role of the Mentor

Mentors, it’s critical to take ownership of your role. Your ability to be the coach, advisor, instructor, and advocate hinges on your ability to communicate effectively.

To succeed, you must:
– Discover the best learning style for your mentee.
– Develop strong listening skills and embrace necessary feedback.
– Be patient, persistent, and thoughtful so you establish a trusting relationship that builds confidence with your mentee.
– Use your stories to illustrate your expertise or depth to reinforce confidence/comfort and demonstrate proficiency.

For mentees to fully engage with their mentors, they have to be open to learning the subject matter and see the value. Mentors need to gauge their enthusiasm and drive, as well as their ability to learn and retain the material, to determine how to plan and execute goals with their mentees. Closely monitor and evaluate your mentees and create an environment with there is open and honest feedback by both parties.

Being a champion for your mentee is one of the most critical elements for success. Continuous praise, support, acknowledgement of progress and good ideas will generate enthusiasm and encouragement for furthering the mentoring relationship. The end goal is to have the mentee be comfortable and confident in order to employ newly learned material that continues to evolve and grow.

The Mentoring Program

We will be starting an internal mentoring program for ACE, and these are the steps we are taking to develop it. Please review and adapt for your own company or organizations mentoring program.

Our group of 60 people has varying levels of experience. We strive to do the best we can for our clients and also for ourselves. To fully reach our potential, we all need those influences that bring a greater possibility to fruition. Developing that framework is the mission of our mentoring program.

Here are the initial steps we will be discussing on the 20th to structure our mentoring program:

1. Application Process


The plan is to develop a clear vision for a more formal mentoring program. We need to determine the following: Should it be a requirement of ACE members to participate? Where should meetings take place? What time commitment is involved?

2. Matching Process

Define the needs/wants of those who would participate
Define the application/matching process

Determine the following: Who are the mentors? Who are  the mentees? What does the mentor need and is there a suitable match?

3. Mentoring Process

Determine goals and objectives for mentors and mentees

Goal-setting can be difficult. However, the better you define the parameters for what the program is and is not, the better to develop a tight alignment. Determine and use metrics to gauge progress and outcomes.

4. Process Improvement

After a mentoring period that has been established, there should be an evaluation from both parties.

Consider: What was learned? How will the subject matter be reinforced? In what ways might we use this moving forward?

Stay tuned. We expect a lot more detail and discussion at the roundtable on the 20th!

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Vantage Point is led by Jay Casavant, who founded the firm in 2007 after being in the high tech recruitment business for 22 years.

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