Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Virtual Mentoring Right for Your Organization?

Consider Virtual Mentoring Earlier Rather Than Later

One of the biggest things our clients ask about when putting together their mentoring program is mentor matching criteria.  We’ve written previously on the 5 mentor matching criteria you should consider, but today I want to focus on location-based mentor matching criteria and virtual mentoring.

Location is a big consideration when you’re putting together your mentor matching criteria, and for good reason. You want to consider a few things:

  • How great a distance your mentoring program spans – e.g. one office? One city? One state/province? One country?
  • How far can you realistically expect your mentors and mentees to commute to meet?
  • How important it is to you that your mentors and mentees meet face to face, as opposed to virtually?

When To Use Virtual Mentoring

Realistically, if your mentoring program is geographically larger than one office, you’ll be looking at having virtual relationships. Why? Your mentoring program is likely (hopefully) targeted. For this example, let’s say it’s targeted to a certain department. In every office, you have an average of 7 people in that department. Of those 7, only 4 are willing and qualified to participate in the mentoring program. Of those 4, you have two possible mentors, and two possible mentees.

That’s a very small selection pool, and there’s a very small chance that there will be two good matches between those four people. When you’re looking at achieving set objectives for your mentoring program, location is not a limitation you can afford to impose – because it’s a huge limitation. And you don’t want to limit your mentoring participants, or your mentoring program, in that way. You can bet that there are people in other offices and locations who can better help each other, and who can better help you meet your objectives.

That doesn’t looking a virtual mentoring exclusively for your organization – but it does mean setting expectations about virtual mentoring from the very beginning of your mentoring program planning.

Virtual Mentoring and Expectation Setting

By virtue of being virtual mentoring, it will require technology. This can mean video conferencing like Skype, Google Hangouts, or GoToMeeting, or even meeting by phone. But it also means that you need to prepare them for the possibility of being in a virtual mentoring relationship, and painting a picture of what that looks like in your organization.

Set expectations with your mentors, mentees, administrators, mentee’s managers, and leadership. Let them know through mentoring training:

  • How virtual mentoring fits into your mentoring program plan and structure
  • Rules specific to your organization and/or mentoring program
  • Best practices and suggestions

Learn more about Insala’s mentoring software.

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