I'm delighted that the AXIS Mentoring programme is featured in the OGV Jobs paper this month. I have also provided some 'pearls of wisdom' which hopefully will help folks in developing successful mentoring partnerships.
In Parts 1 & 2 we talked about mentoring having slipped off the agenda in some organisations and some key principles that may help you get mentoring re-introduced in a way that is more likely to add value than just be a futile exercise.
Part 1 covered:
1. Genuine leadership buy in
2. Nominating an Internal coordinator
3. The Matching process
Part 2 covered:
4. Training for both the mentors and mentees
5. Confidentiality and trust
7. Success factors
We’ll complete our look at this topic with three more items. Again we’ll use examples from Leith Gordon Ltd’s recent experience with Cabot Specialty Fluids (CSF), Aberdeen.
Have a think about:
8. Ongoing and specialist support – whilst it would be great to think it’s all plain sailing, there may be some issues that come up that need other or more specialist support than a mentor can offer. So you need to be clear with both mentors and mentees what the boundaries are and if/what/how ongoing or specialist support will be available.
9. Follow up – once the partnerships are underway, follow up regularly. Demonstrate that the organisation is committed to the success of the programme and is genuinely interested.
10. Evaluation – Of course, any organisation will want to know ‘was it worth it?’. You invested effort in identifying your success factors up front, so after about 6 months, you should evaluate your programme’s achievements and make adjustments as necessary.. CSF asked Leith Gordon Ltd to undertake a mid-programme review against the identified success factors ; the feedback was extremely positive and minimal adaptation was required. Then again at the end of the programme, gather feedback and make changes as necessary.
So, with a few simple, thought through steps you could successfully get mentoring back onto your organisation's agenda and glean some great benefits.
Feel free to contact me for a no obligation discussion on putting a mentoring program into your organisation, no matter the size.
Otherwise, good luck, I hope it goes well.
In Part 1, we talked about mentoring having slipped off the agenda in some organisations, yet with some thought, it can be re-introduced to gain the benefits that we all know about, if done well.
I suggested that you consider the first three points and reflect on what you believe your organisation’s position is on these. We looked at:
1. Genuine leadership buy-in
2. Nominating an Internal coordinator
3. The Matching process
So now you’ve had time to soak on those aspects, let’s move on. We’ll continue to refer to Leith Gordon Ltd’s recent experience with Cabot Specialty Fluids (CSF), Aberdeen.
So, the next key items to reflect on are:
4. Train both the mentors and mentees – to deliver a consistently understood, transparent and positive programme, all parties needed to be aware of the boundaries. Amy Robertson, HR Manager at CSF was keen to get an external party to deliver the training believing that the level of knowledge and credibility would be enhanced. The workshops were full of questions, debates and quite a few ‘ah –ha’ moments!
5. Emphasise confidentiality and trust – Easily said, sometimes harder to adhere to. The fact that a mentoring partnership exists should not be secret…but the content of the discussions absolutely should be held sacred unless there is a mutual agreement to share further.
6. Communicate about the mentoring programme
- With mentees: don’t underestimate how people, particularly when feeling vulnerable, can hear the invite to be a mentee as being sent to the ‘naughty step’. If that’s what you intend, fine, carry on. If not, stop and think how you want your programme to be seen.
- With everyone else: questions you may get from those not invited to be a mentee include - ‘why not me?’, ‘Is this a secret society?’, ‘Is it because the mentee is sucking up to the boss?’. You don’t need me to tell you that stories spread quickly - so lay your pitch out before the rumourmongers get their hands on the messaging.
7. Identify success factors – There is a lot of debate on this point, but put quite simply, clarify why you are putting this programme in place and identify what benefits you want to see. CSF has identified a set of success factors that have been shared with the mentors and mentees and enable calibration of progress.
So again, take a little time to consider these points in relation to your own organisation and of course, please contact me with any questions or comments.
In Part 3 of 3 we will complete with a few more salient points.
You might say that mentoring never left your organisation, and there are indeed some lovely examples…but in many companies, the existence of positive, sustainable programmes has waned. Sound familiar?
In three short chunks, I will offer you, as a key player in the process, some building blocks to enable the development of a mentoring programme that delivers benefits to your organisation.
Despite how some present it, there is no ‘rocket science’ behind successful mentoring…but there are a few fundamental principles, and so over a series of posts, I’ll outline some principles that I have found most pertinent. I won’t focus on the benefits of mentoring however, it is implicit that whomever is implementing a programme needs to be clear about what they aim to achieve from doing so.
Leith Gordon Ltd’s recent experience with Cabot Specialty Fluids (CSF), Aberdeen, Scotland will be used as examples. Amy Robertson, HR Manager of CSF decided to implement a pilot mentoring scheme and has been delighted with the progress to date.
So the first few pearls of wisdom are:
1. You need to get genuine leadership buy in before launching. No huge surprise but really…a champion in the leadership team is essential if mentoring is going to have credibility and if mentees are going to feel they have permission to dedicate time their own development. In CSF, the General Manager has been leading the march - he speaks about it passionately, he is a mentor himself, he introduces each workshop and communicates about the programme to the wider organisation. Good start!
2. Nominate an Internal coordinator – whilst it is very useful to have external support to design the programme, training, follow up and evaluation, there absolutely needs to be an internal coordinator. Make sure that the coordinator is given credit and time to do this role effectively At CSF, the HR Manager is the internal coordinator and folks know whom to contact with any queries.
3. Give your Matching process some thought – Matching… there’s a viper’s nest if ever there was one. Again many ways to do this with pros and cons for each method. CSF have set up a small pilot with a few employees who indicated they’d be up for it together with a group of volunteer mentors. The HR Manager did the first pass of matching. So far, there’s been a positive reaction.
So there are some starting points. My questions to you are:
Give it some thought and look out for the next two articles for some more fundamentals to get mentoring back onto your organisation’s agenda.
In the meantime, give me a shout with any questions.
Here's hoping that you will enjoy the 'Buta Blogs'.
The blogs are so named as the Leith Gordon Ltd logo is the 'Buta flame' (see Logo Explained) and let's be honest...who doesn't like a bit of alliteration?!
Watch this space and get ready to go Buta Blogging...
Warm regards, Susan
Susan and her family lived in Azerbaijan for over 6 years. Whilst on assignment, Susan wrote the ‘Baku Diaries’ for the CIPD North of Scotland & Islands newsletter.
By request, these diaries have been included here. They are ‘oldies’ now, but hopefully still ‘goodies'. Enjoy!