Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mentoring Problem #1: Mentoring Resources

It's About Your Mentoring Resources

It’s never about how big or small your organization is, or even how big your mentoring program is – it’s always about the mentoring resources allocated proportionally to planning, implementing, and running it.

It’s a big job. I’ve seen programs stymie over fewer than 25 pairs – but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

Whether it’s a larger program with multiple program managers or a smaller program with just one program manager, becoming overwhelmed is extremely common. And usually this is due to the pressure of not having enough mentoring resources, including:

  • Needing to create something tangible out of nothing
  • Not knowing how to do it
  • Being pushed to do it by an impossible date
  • Feeling that the more you try to do it that it will take days, weeks, months to accomplish
Before you’re able to move past this stage, you will need to do one very important thing: acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Imagine that you’re lost in the woods. You don’t know any better, so you hope that by walking in one direction you’ll eventually be able to find your way out. It’s not even that you don’t have a map – it’s that you haven’t even realized that you need one. But one day, overwhelmed by the task ahead of you with no idea how far you have left to go or what the “end” even looks like, you say to yourself, “Wouldn’t this whole process be much easier if I actually knew in what direction I needed to go and could see what obstacles lay ahead on that path so I could avoid them?”

At that very moment, you happen to wander conveniently by a map stand in the middle of the woods for weary travelers such as yourself. You now have options! They are:

  1. Pick up a map.
  2. Stay lost. 
What do you do?

Pick Up the Map

Solution #1: Mentoring Planning

A lot of program managers who don’t choose to pick up the map end up making decisions based on what they think they know, and consequently making mistakes because they didn’t understand what they were getting into.

The fact is this: if you don’t have a plan in place, you are going to come across obstacles you haven’t accounted for and needing to compensate for overcoming them. Depending on what this obstacle is, and how many of them there are, your mentoring program may just hit a rocky patch or two or three… or it may never get out of the woods and fail entirely.

Solution #2: Mentoring Software.

Especially when you’re working with larger numbers of mentors and mentees in your program, trying to keep track of and report on your program can become an administration nightmare – especially when there are problems you don’t know about, and therefore can’t correct before they become a program-wrecking nightmare.

So when it comes to managing all the little details, the communications, the reporting, and the keeping of engagement levels across your entire mentoring program, realize that mentoring software may well be a very solid investment for you and your organization. As for how to obtain the buy-in for your mentoring program necessary to get it – stay tuned.

 Other posts in this series by mentoring training and program planning expert Judy Corner:

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