Success Strategies for Mentoring Program Managers

Mentoring has become a critical part of organizations’ talent development plans. While mentors’ and mentees’ roles, responsibilities, expectations, and success strategies are the most discussed topics, a mentoring program manager is in the driver’s seat of a professional mentoring program. They are in charge of planning, managing, coordinating, and steering an organization’s mentoring efforts. Clearly, there are lots on their plates.

Without proper planning, right from the beginning, a mentoring program can suffer halfway. Here are the top 6 strategies that can help a program manager implement a successful formal mentoring program.

1. Choose Your Mentors Wisely

Choosing the right mentor for a new mentoring program is one of the most challenging things a program manager has to do. Often there are more people in an organization who wants to be mentored than people who want to mentor others. But that doesn’t mean a program manager chooses mentors haphazardly.

When deciding mentors, a mentoring program manager must look for someone who is enthusiastic, helpful, respectful towards subordinates and experts in their respective fields.

2. Matchmaking Has To Be Precise

A mentoring pair can make or break a relationship. That’s why mentoring matches has to be precise. A mentor must be paired with a mentee based on their compatibility and competencies; without them, a mentoring program can be a dead duck. It is very important to consider personality preferences and characteristics to ensure compatibility.

One way to do that is to ask questions to the participants about their career goals, communications styles, personalities, and what kind of a person they want to be paired with.

Also read: Why Mentoring Training is Important for Mentors?

3. Train Your Mentors

Mentoring is a complex task; it needs specific skills that come from training. Strong communication and active listening are most important among all the mentoring skills a mentor should possess. A mentor must be able to listen, with all the senses, to what a mentee is saying and be eloquent on the suggestion or advice.

If a mentor is underqualified for his role, they can instill wrong principles and standards within their mentees. This will produce poorly trained mentees, which means, a complete failure of a mentoring program.

Online mentoring courses like Mentoring University help mentors get trained and certified, ensuring a successful mentoring program.

4. Be An Active Listener

Active listening is paying complete attention to what the other person is saying so that the listener doesn’t miss any vital information.

Not only for mentors and mentees, active listening is crucial for mentoring program managers too. As a program manager, you are bound to encounter mentors and mentees who are in need of help; and active listening is the best way to solve their problems.

Successful program managers are those who know how to listen. While listening is not something that can be learned, active listening is; it comes from training and practice.

Here are some active listening tips that can help a person shut out the mind chatter when someone is speaking:

  • Understand what the other person is saying and provide verbal validation
  • When appropriate, repeat some of the things that you have heard
  • When meeting someone in-person, keep your non-verbal gestures warm and inviting; make eye contact and nod or shake your head

5. Monitor The Relationship

A program manager’s responsibilities don’t end after the start of a mentoring relationship. They are also responsible for running a program smoothly. Without proper supervision, a formal mentoring program can falter.

The program administrator should conduct a quarterly check-in with each mentor and mentee to monitor their relationship and the progress of the program. They also need to make sure the mentors are choosing the right activities for the benefit of the mentees.

Program managers can follow these tips for effective check-ins:

  • Ask open-ended questions to mentors and mentees
  • Affirm the contribution of all the participants
  • Know the activities they are performing to achieve mentees’ goals
  • Provide suggestions on any areas needing attention
  • Check if the participants need any ongoing support or training

Also read: Top Mentoring Training Strategies for New Mentors

6. Wrap Up When It’s Time

Mentoring is one of the many good things that have to end on time. Ideally, mentoring programs last between 9 and 12 months. However, if a mentee achieves his/her goals before that time, it is okay to end the relationship early.

When a mentoring program has drawn to a close, the program manager must ask for feedback from all the mentors and mentees. This can include their experience, any improvement suggestions, and whether or not they wish to continue the relationship after the formal ending of the program.

In the end, hold a wrap-up meeting marking the success of the program. Wrap-up meetings are also a great place to acknowledge the efforts of everyone involved.

Ending a professional mentoring program the right way is essential. Without this process, hurt feelings may occur due to an unpleasant ending of the relationship, which will ruin the participants’ overall experience of the program.

Originally Published On: Mentoring University