The Four Stages of the Mentoring Process

By Jan Murray on
Mentoring Purpose and Practice

Last updated

Entering a mentorship relationship can sometimes lead to a rush to simply begin the process and move forward without proper consideration. In our experience this approach can result in unstructured and ineffective conversations that do not address the underlying issues, ultimately leading to stagnation in the relationship. Adopting a structured approach, on the other hand, provides a clear purpose for the mentorship and increases the likelihood of success. Although it may seem tedious, formalising and scheduling mentorship sessions is crucial to ensure the process is not hindered by busy work schedules and this mentoring process can be split into four distinct stages.

What are the four main stages of mentoring?

A typical four-step process can be applied to many mentorship relationships. As with all processes, it is important to follow each step thoroughly to achieve success. Skipping steps or focusing too heavily on one aspect while disregarding others can lead to confusion and subpar outcomes.

Stage 1) Analysis: Assessing Current Performance

Mentorship can only commence once the mentee recognises their desire and need for improvement in their performance or work habits. It is the mentor's responsibility to aid in the development of this recognition, as mentorship cannot be successful without the mentee's willingness to change. One approach to fostering recognition and awareness in the mentee is through using questioning that assesses their current performance and compares it to their desired level. Self-assessment exercises can serve as a strong foundation for future discussions. Our mentoring platform includes built-in tools such as SWOT and G-STAR to support this process.

Stage 2) Plan: Developing a Personal Learning Plan

A mentor should not force learning onto the mentee; instead, the mentee must actively participate in the process. As a result, creating a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) is a valuable step in the second stage.

The Personal Learning Plan (PLP) should address the following points:

  1. What is the desired outcome - what the mentee hopes to achieve through the mentorship.
  2. How it will be achieved - the steps or strategies the mentee will take to reach their goal.
  3. Where it will take place - the location or environment in which the mentee will implement their plan.
  4. When it will start and end - the timeline for the mentorship process.
  5. How it will be measured - the methods or criteria used to evaluate the success of the plan.
  6. Who will be involved - the participants or stakeholders who will play a role in the mentorship.

For optimal results, the Personal Learning Plan (PLP) should concentrate on one or two targeted development goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. Our mentoring platform includes an inbuilt SMART Goal Tool to aid in this stage of the mentorship process.

Stage 3) Progression: Implementing the Plan and Making Progress

At this stage, the mentor's role is to offer support to the mentee as they work towards their goals. The mentor must create a secure environment for exploration, self-discovery, and genuine learning as the mentee navigates their professional and personal hurdles. This stage is the most extensive and will require the most interactions and engagement. It is advisable to hold regular evaluations and to acknowledge any milestones that have been accomplished to monitor progress.

Stage 4) Evaluation: Reviewing Progress and Setting New Goals

This final stage entails evaluating the outcome of the goals, assessing any alterations made to the original objectives and Personal Learning Plan, determining the advantages gained from the mentoring process, and considering what the mentee (or mentor) has learned that might influence their future approach.

Do the mentee and mentor require a revised PLP and set of objectives to maintain the progression?

If additional improvement is still required (and the need for continuous improvement of performance is a common occurrence in the mentoring process) a new PLP and set of goals can be created and the initial mentoring relationship can be considered finished within the mentoring platform, but it is possible for the relationship to continue with a new plan and potentially a new mentor.

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