As an in-house tool for developing talent, mentors can provide the insight and expertise that can be critical for helping aspiring managers and individuals achieve their goals. To make this happen, there needs to be a smooth process as well as a pool of engaged and skilled mentors. In our experience, there are the three elements to a getting mentoring programme right in your organisation.
Step 1: Create engagement through inspirational stories
Everybody loves a story about a hero. A fateful journey through a set of obstacles that test and challenge; a story about beating the odds; a process of transformation and eventual success; and which ends with the return of the hero to share their tale. This is the stuff of inspiration – a compelling narrative that engages as well as opens up the audience for further insight.
This was the path of Leon Taylor, Olympic medalist and official mentor to Team GB, who has experienced performing at the highest level. At just 16 years old, Taylor was challenged by his coach to improve with the harsh comments, “You’ll never be good enough to go to the Olympics!” Whilst at first seeming mean and obstructive, his coach knew how to get the best out of him. Years later his coach was proven right when Taylor stood on the podium at the Athens Games.
Following this success Taylor decided to use his achievements as a vehicle to inspire other divers and travelled the length and breadth of the country to encourage aspiring youngsters. This was when he met Tom Daley, who as a ten year old, shocked Taylor with his talent and ability rendering him speechless (no mean feat!).
This meeting marked the start of their mentoring relationship, and as Taylor acknowledged himself, heralded the beginning of a bond that has been as personally rewarding for him as it has been professionally beneficial for Tom.
Step 2: Make your mentoring process easy, efficient and scalable through technology
Ever been locked in a room for a painful two weeks whilst you match up mentors with potential mentees?
The development of technology means that organisations can bypass this tedious exercise with the ability to automate the matching process with a seamless solution that takes the pain away. Utilising the latest matching software, instead of manually selecting people you think will connect, companies are freed up to progress with the important job of managing the mentoring strategy, securing senior buy-in and ensuring the KPI’s for the project materialise. Our partner Insala offers this type of mentoring technology and is definitely worth checking out.
Step 3: Transform the skills of your line managers
Imagine going on a first date with someone you’ve met online. You’re sat in a restaurant excited to finally meet this person who you’ve been messaging over the past weeks. Your palms are sweaty and your heart beats anxiously in your chest. There is a palpable sense of excitement in the air as your date approaches the table. You meet in person for the first time and sit together to begin your first real conversation.
What happens when you don’t click with your date? What do you do when the chemistry between you does not set you alight?
Would you tell yourself, “their profile page was great, I think I’ll see them again.” Probably not, right?
It’s the same for mentees. Whilst they may be engaged and inspired. Whilst they may have experienced a seamless matching process. What happens if the chemistry between them and their mentor does not work? The process falls flat.
It is essential that mentors learn how to build rapport, how to contract, how to listen and question, and how to bestow their experience in a way that provokes deeper thought and reflection. After all, mentors are a relationship of choice – the skills needed to make this relationship work are different from those used in everyday Line Management.
Ben Houghton is CEO of Noggin
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