Mentoring program - Seven mistakes to avoid

By Jan Murray on
Avoiding mentoring program mistakes

Being in the company of a role model, a wiser head who can guide you through a period of transition, can be very powerful. That is the power of a mentor.

Whether you are considering running a mentoring program, becoming a mentor or looking for a mentor, it is important to understand not only the benefits but also the pitfalls that you need to be aware of. Successfully navigate these and you could be on the way to a highly rewarding experience.

In an article in Personnel Today Eleanor Lloyd Jones, regional branch co-ordinator for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) outlined the findings of some research on the effectiveness of mentoring among CIPD members.

"Where mentoring relationships worked, there was clarity of objectives. It's important to know what the mentee wants and to agree this upfront; set boundaries and have a clear end point," she advised. "It's easy for you to meet up with someone you get along with, but if there is no clear focus the mentoring relationship will just drift."

Common Mentoring Mistakes

1. Not Setting Goals And Outcomes

Embarking on a mentoring relationship without goals is like setting off on a journey without a destination in mind. How will you ever know when you have arrived? Mentees need to have two or three clear goals and think about how they will be able to measure them so they can say ‘I did it"

2. Not Setting or Following up Action Points

To prevent the mentoring process drifting, it is important that at the end of every mentoring session the mentor and mentee ensure that action points have been identified that will help the mentee progress towards achieving their goal. These action points then need to be reviewed at the following meeting to ensure progress is made.

3. Not Defining An End Point

Right from the outset of the mentoring process it is important to discuss a realistic timeframe. By making the process time-bound the mentoring is less likely to drift, as the time to achieve the goals is clearly defined and can be measured and monitored.

Eleanor Lloyd Jones of the CIPD recommends a defined period of six months, a reasonably short period that will give both parties the opportunity to focus.

4. Trying To Make a Mini-Me

As part of the mentor training the mentor needs to understand that mentoring is not to clone a mini-version of themselves, it is about using their experience to develop the talents of the mentee.

5. Overlooking the "Obvious"

Never assume that what's obvious to you is obvious to someone else. If common sense were common, there wouldn't be any problems in the world, right? Both mentor and mentee should get into the habit of double-checking their assumptions.

6. Believing Mentors Should Structure And Drive The Mentoring Relationship

While mentors have a role in structuring a formal mentoring relationship based on their availability and what they want to offer, mentees are responsible for driving the relationship and making clear from the outset what they want to learn from the mentor.

7. Believing Mentoring Is a One-Way Relationship.

Although it's not necessarily viewed this way, mentoring has always been a reciprocal arrangement in which both the mentor and mentee learn and benefit from the relationship.

While mentee benefits may be more obvious, mentors gain as well. Mentors have the opportunity of reflecting on defining career moments, testing their long-held assumptions and participating in another person's professional and personal growth.

At PLD our e-mentoring programs are designed to provide practical guides to mentors and mentees and to provide a roadmap to guide them through each step of the mentoring process, avoiding potential mentoring mistakes and strengthening the mentoring relationship.

If you would like to find out more about running a mentoring program call 01625 251 055 or request a demonstration.

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