Seven Success Strategies for Mentoring Program Managers: For Those in Charge of Mentoring Programs, Their Own Development Often Gets Short Shrift

By Zachary, Lois J. | Talent Development, February 2015 | Go to article overview

Seven Success Strategies for Mentoring Program Managers: For Those in Charge of Mentoring Programs, Their Own Development Often Gets Short Shrift


Zachary, Lois J., Talent Development


Mentoring has become a strategic imperative for ensuring employee engagement and career success. While much time and attention have been given to training and supporting mentors and mentees, minimal attention has been paid to the unsung heroes of those efforts--the mentoring program managers (MPM). These individuals charged with the responsibility of managing, coordinating, overseeing, and steering organizational mentoring efforts often suffer from benign neglect of their own making--not making the time for their own development and learning.

Guidebooks are helpful in familiarizing MPMs with mentoring, its processes, and structure, but rarely do they address the strategic growth and development of the MPM in preparation for the role, while they are in the role, and planning for leadership succession. Ensuring that an MPM has a growth and development plan in place for himself benefits him as well as the entire organization.

Why it works

Whether MPMs are part time, attached to another function and responsibilities, or in fully dedicated positions, they will need to focus on developing themselves in their role. Implementing and growing a successful mentoring program requires a knowledgeable, capable, competent, skilled, and visionary manager.

Without a specific plan in place, what ends up happening is a little bit like the story of the shoemaker's children who have no shoes. The MPM is so busy managing and implementing a mentoring program for everyone else in the company that it leaves no time for him to address his own learning needs. When an MPM lacks adequate training and preparation for the role, it negatively affects the growth and development of the program and limits his effectiveness in the role.

Guidelines

If you are an MPM, what can you do to avoid putting your own learning and development on the back burner? Here are seven learning and development opportunities that are guaranteed to make you more successful in your role, followed by questions to consider relative to those opportunities.

Be prepared. What professional memberships do you have in mentoring support organizations?

Realistically assess how much you really know about mentoring. If you're not as up-to-date and knowledgeable as you should be, find both virtual and local networks to plug into. Once you do, network like crazy. It is a relatively easy way to tap into best practice models.

Let your commitment show. What are you learning about mentoring from being in mentoring relationships?

Be a role model. Engage as a mentor. Experiential learning is a quick teacher and it will help you fully understand the dynamics and challenges of being in a mentoring relationship.

Remember that the best mentors are mentees as well. Being able to walk in a mentee's shoes will accelerate your learning and put you in a better position to support your program's mentees.

Make your own growth and development a priority. What growth have you seen in yourself during the past six months?

Identify the skills and competencies you are going to need to take your mentoring program to the next level. Then assess your strengths and challenges. Create an individual development plan to help you get there, and review it often. Challenge yourself. What new resources can you tap into right now that would make the biggest difference in your performance as an MPM?

Look in the mirror frequently and ask, "What more can I be doing to raise the bar on my mentoring program? …

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