Recruiting Mentors to Your Mentoring ProgramJanuary 04, 2016
The major challenges and misconceptions in recruiting mentors
The greatest challenge in recruiting and retaining mentors is largely due to a lack of understanding about what the role of mentor requires. This is normally based on two most likely misconceptions.
The first regards the amount and length of time required. A perspective mentor may think that being a mentor is a life-long commitment and they do not want that obligation. Most organizations have a specific timeline set for their mentoring programs of anywhere from 6 to 12 months. If an individual considering becoming a mentor realizes that the length of the partnership is limited, they may be much more willing to consider the role.
The second likely misconception is that a mentor must be a high-level executive within the organization. When a prospective mentor understands that job grade level or title has little to do with qualifying to be a mentor, it may alleviate this concern. Letting mentors know that it is based on their having the requisite skills to participate as a mentor and the subject matter knowledge/expertise that a prospective mentee may need is key to the recruiting process.
Providing mentors with a set of clear objectives, expectations, obligations, roles and responsibilities makes the recruitment of mentors much more realistic and successful for both the organization and for mentors themselves.
Setting expectations and communicating with mentors
Mentors who will become most effective should be willing to commit to building productive and strong relationships with their mentees. Their expertise, experience and role in the organization will often dictate their approach to the mentoring process. If they are mentoring across generations, they will often become role models for their mentees. The selection of mentors is considered one of, if not the, most important first step in the process of establishing a mentoring program.
Setting expectations and providing clear communication to mentors as to the program objectives, and in that regard what is expected of them as mentors, is a fundamental first step in the recruiting process. It is important that if someone makes the decision to participate as a mentor that decision is based on clear and accurate information.
Information provided to mentors should include:
- The organizational objectives and focus of the mentoring program
- Why the organization feels that a mentoring program is important, including what success will look like and any support from senior management
- Steps that have been accomplished thus far concerning the implementation of the mentoring program
- A clear definition of “mentor”, “mentee” and “mentoring” to ensure that everyone is clear regarding terminology and roles
- A role profile or description listing the responsibilities of the mentor during the program
- A clear outline of the process to qualify as a mentor, the matching process, training requirements and the long term requirements of the partnership and the program; including meetings with the program administrator for status and evaluations
- A clear understanding that the program and the individuals will participate on a “voluntary” basis, but must be qualified to be a mentor based on being able to carry out the responsibilities and requirements listed in the mentor role profile
- An understanding of the time involved in being a mentor, best expressed on a monthly basis; e.g., you will be asked to meet with your mentee a minimum of 2 hours per month and you and your mentee can break this up as appropriate.
- A description of the training the mentor will receive and why the training is important.
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