A quick look at how to get that healthy buzz back again
Are you supporting, motivating and creating the most effective mentoring relationships in your programme? Well, if you are like most organisations then you probably start off with great intentions of doing this through the life of your programme and start off with a flourish, but then budget constraints kick in, or other priorities take over and you find six months down the line your mentors haven’t had a check in or support or supervision since the programme launched.
Ensure relationships continue in a healthy, productive way
There are three key reasons for supporting or supervising your mentors (and mentees if you have the capacity!):
- For quality assurance purposes and to make sure the mentors are operating to a certain level of competence. This puts an amount of peer pressure on the mentors to commit to what they say they will deliver as mentors, but also ensures consistent mentoring expertise in your programme.
- For ethical reasons and to ensure no ‘harm’ is being done. My definition of ‘harm’ after nearly twenty years of working as a mentoring consultant includes: breaking up marriages, bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment.
- For educative purposes and to continue the development of your mentors. The amount of two way learning that comes out of effective mentoring is immense, to the extent that many organisations consider using mentoring as much as a tool to develop their mentors as to their mentee needs.
How to support mentors
When you are faced with the challenges of how to support and educate mentors at varying stages of development to facilitate their ethical practice and on going progression as a mentor, it is important to provide the right level of support or supervision to the mentors your are working with, so your starting point should be to assess the need and stage of mentor development.
Most support and supervision occurs through running small focus group activity for the mentors at regular intervals during the mentoring programme duration to review how the mentoring is going and to provide further education. The most basic support will include facilitated discussion in these groups to check progress around the programme aims and objectives, ensure the mentors are adhering to the type of mentoring that the programme is advocating and have a largely educative input to equip the mentors to move up to the next stage of their development.
The developing mentor
The consciously developing mentor needs to start to identify other ways of mentoring so as to expand their effectiveness. The supervision may therefore need to pay more attention to supporting the mentor in their process development and in recognising the dynamics within a mentoring relationship.
Some programmes, where it is feasible, provide one to one supervision using the programme organiser or bringing in an external supervisor. Challenges with this level of supervision can include the capability of the organiser, particularly if working with the mentor on a one to one basis, and the availability of the mentor to participate in the supervision. Due to logistical and budgetary constraints most formal programmes still use small focus group activity to supervise mentors at this stage, or begin to bring in peer discussion and reflection. So much of this is done virtually these days, which will make support and supervision available more readily and cost effectively.
The reflective mentor
The reflective mentor is someone with a fair amount of experience as a mentor. They are probably aware of most of the different approaches to mentoring theory and practice and are now in the position, on the basis of their experience of mentoring and of being supervised, to begin to critically reflect upon their own practice and to further develop their skills and understanding of different mentoring approaches, drawing from other mentors and their supervisor.
One of the important aspects of effective supervision for the reflective mentor is that the supervisor is able to demonstrate emphatic attention and insightful reflection to the mentor. There are two changes in focus here. Firstly, the supervisor is focusing more on the mentee and the ‘work’ of the mentor whilst at the same time encouraging the mentor to begin to recognise how the mentor’s own experiences (including those as a mentor/supervisee) are beginning to impact upon their mentoring work. Secondly, the supervisor is supporting the mentor to develop his or her own internal critically reflexive capacity. Again this type of support tends to be run on a group basis in many organisations, but often mentors with this level of experience and interest are pursuing other coaching/mentoring accreditation or requesting one to one support for themselves alongside the mentoring programme.
And don’t forget the mentees!
The mentees also benefit from regular group support during the programme to ensure they are using their mentors in the most effective manner and to give them a safe space in which to reflect on the process of mentoring they are experiencing. Developing mentees is critical in producing a skilled mentee who is in the driving seat and can get the most out of their mentoring experience!
If you want to learn more, then contact me for a discussion or join us for a free 30 minutes webex on Mentor Supervision on Thurs 30th March 2017 at 10.30 UK time. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.