Mentorship Best Practices

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Mentorship

Few would argue that Mentorship is a key to personal and professional success. I hope that the mentorship best-practice thoughts below are helpful to you, whether you’re a motivated, hard-working, coachable, flexible and capable potential mentee or a seasoned, accomplished, committed mentor, ready to give-back, or a connecting and passionate executive implementing a program for your company.

  1. Mentorship should be integrated into the ongoing culture, not just inserted as an afterthought. From the top-down, from the bottom-up, all must think, speak and act in ways which would support the success of a mentorship program.
    • This means providing the time and resources to ensure the ongoing success of the program.
    • This means commitment from the top in thoughts, words and actions, and follow-up from all ranks to ensure exceptional implementation on an ongoing basis.
  2. Let the mentees drive the cause and the conversation, and let the mentors guide the conversation and learnings, within a specific timeframe.
    • Problems occur when mentees aren’t the initiators or when mentors aren’t the right guides.
  3. Agree on specific, measurable goals, objectives and timelines.
    • Do it for the right reasons, the intangible results, but report on the measured results to build momentum, credibility and impact.
  4. Report on the specific, measurable impact of the program.
    • Learn from what went well and what didn’t go so well and respond accordingly.
  5. Focus on building specific and transferable soft skills, but apply the learning to a specific project.
    • Common leadership soft skills include: communication (for clarity, succinctness, written, assertiveness), confidence, decisiveness, negotiation, delegation, empathy and humor, embracing change.
    • It’s best to learn any of these transferable leadership skills in the context of specific work projects as it would have clear impact today’s project, and develop transferable skills for tomorrow’s project.
  6. Adopt mentorship projects in alignment with larger team, product and corporate goals.
    • In fact, mentorship programs can actually be instrumental in the success of the larger product, team and corporate initiatives!
  7. Optimize the matching of mentors and mentees.
    • Sample guidelines include connecting people:
      • within or outside the company, but not part of the local team,
      • with similar overarching values,
      • with similar interests
      •  with similar experiences
      • with different perspectives
  8. Have a back-up plan when things don’t go as expected.
    • Commit to showing up for meetings, but have a plan when life happens.
    • Be prepared to shift mentors or mentees into other relationships if necessary.
    • Have a program director to act as a resource when mentors or mentees need additional information, resources or support.
  9. Be inclusive. Engagement a large community of dedicated mentors and mentees. With that said, don’t force someone to engage if they aren’t committed participants, if it’s not the right time for her/him to get engaged.
    • It’s easy to engage those who raise their hand eagerly and more challenging to approach the shy, reserved, quiet others who would also greatly benefit – as a mentee or a mentor.
  10. Celebrate your progress.
    • Change doesn’t happen overnight. Progress is what should be celebrated. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Best of luck with your mentorship program. Showing up and speaking and thinking about implementing one will put you ahead of most people!

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