Guide to starting a mentoring program - Part 4

December 10, 2015

An important step that is often overlooked in the process of launching a mentoring program is training the managers of mentees / mentors to enable and facilitate mentoring relationships. While managers are not directly involved in the mentoring process as are the mentees and mentors, they play an important role in every mentoring program.

Mentoring managers should be trained to ensure that everyone in the program is fulfilling their responsibilities, so that each party and the company as a whole can reap the benefits of a successful corporate mentoring program.

Ensuring managers have the correct understanding of the program

It is important to find out from the managers if they indeed have the correct perception regarding all of the concepts of mentoring that are going to be communicated and used during the program.  It goes back to ensuring there is a consistent communication throughout the organization regarding mentoring and that historical perceptions and mis-perceptions are clarified. This is especially important as they will be answering questions from individuals who report to them about the program as well as individuals that report to them that are not in the program and may want to be in the future.  Consistent and correct communication is paramount in any mentoring program.

Creating a forum for managers

Managers need a forum in which they can ask questions and comment regarding their opinions, issues, concerns, pertaining to the overall program. The fact that someone who reports to them will be involved in the program either as a mentor or as a mentee is important to recognize.  Do they believe that a particular individual can do a good job as mentor?  Or in the case of a mentee, are they clear about and do they concur with the fact that someone else will be working with, developing and advising a direct report?  A forum for training and for expressing concerns and asking questions will provide them with a voice.

Clarifying the manager’s role in the mentoring partnership

The managers many times are not sure of their role in the mentoring partnership. In a support role does it mean that the manager is hands off; does it mean that they should be at each meeting with the mentor and mentee; or is it somewhere in between? 

Insala conducts readiness training programs as part of the initial process of teaching organizations how to establish an effective mentoring program aimed at managers, mentees and mentors alike.  “When we take our clients through the mentee training, we encourage the mentee to keep his/her manager in the loop. We emphasize that it is difficult for the manager to support the partnerships and be OK with the time spent if he/she has no idea what is going on” says Judy Corner a seasoned mentoring program trainer.

“We do the same with the mentors and their respective managers, so that again, the manager understands the time commitment, etc.  In both cases, we encourage the mentors and mentees to ask their manager just how much communication they want.  Some managers will want to have regular updates; but others will assume it will all go well and they only want to know if you need their help with anything.  It will vary by manager, their relationship with the individual that reports to them and their comfort level with the mentoring program overall and how much has been communicated to them about the program.

To learn more about manager mentor training, schedule a discussion with someone in Insala’s mentoring practice today.

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