Are you running, or are about to run, a mentoring program? If so, the chances are you’re wondering whether it’s worth investing in mentoring technology to help you manage the scheme. Here are three tests to help you understand whether you should be thinking about a technology platform, or whether you are better saving your money!
Three tests to check you’re ready for Mentoring Technology
Test #1 — Maturity of Mentoring Scheme
Often people implement a mentoring platform too early, without having designed and trialled the actual mentoring scheme sufficiently. A mentoring technology platform will help you implement and manage a mentoring scheme, but it won’t do all the work for you. For example, if you haven’t trained your mentors how to build an effective mentoring relationship then the platform won’t be much use. Or if your mentees aren’t signed up to the benefits of being mentored then they may never use the platform. The end result is that the mentoring scheme fails, and you probably blame the technology.
Tip: Make sure you know how you want to run the mentoring scheme and have best practices in place… then bring in the technology to help reduce your admin and help you manage the scheme.
Test #2 — Size of Mentoring Scheme
It’s relatively easy to manage a small mentoring scheme without any mentoring technology. But once you start scaling up to the hundreds or even thousands of mentors/mentees, you need to think about technology to help you. The larger the scheme gets, the harder it is for the administrator to manage the matches; to keep track of each mentoring relationship; to support relationships that need a hand; etc, etc. You may think you can manage 100 pairs using just email and Word documents, but:
- How much do you know about each relationship?
- Do you know whether mentors are communicating with their mentees?
- Do you know when each mentor last talked to or met the mentees?
- And how do you evaluate the effectiveness of each mentoring relationship?
A mentoring technology platform won’t do all the work for you. It will help you to use your limited time on ‘added value’ activities, rather than chasing pairs that don’t need to be chased. And the technology platform allows you to run reports which help you understand the effectiveness of the mentoring scheme.
And if you’re serious about data protection (which you should be!) then it’s very hard to manage any but the smallest scheme without technology to track consent and keep personal data secure.
Tip: As you scale up your mentoring scheme, if you find you’re running out of time to do the matching or to evaluate the scheme effectively, you should probably be thinking about technology. It’s very hard to manage effectively a scheme with 50+ pairs without some technology to help you.
Test #3 — Face-to-Face or eMentoring
Face-to-Face mentoring schemes have very different requirements to e-Mentoring schemes. Both require mentor-mentee matches to be made, so technology may help you there for both types of scheme. But once mentors and mentees in a face-to-face scheme have been matched, it’s possible that they then develop their relationships without technology, so the technology platform may be less important. However, eMentoring schemes almost certainly require the mentors and mentees to communicate electronically; it’s very hard to manage that securely without a secure mentoring platform. Using Facebook or LinkedIn messaging is one option. But it’s very hard, if not impossible, for you to track what’s going on through these social media platforms. You are also taking a risk with your data protection obligations by allowing people to share personal data on a social media site that you can’t control.
Tip: Small face-to-face mentoring schemes may be able to manage without technology. eMentoring schemes almost always require a technology platform to ensure you are safeguarding personal data appropriately.
Once you have decided you are ready to implement mentoring technology, how do you decide which one? A forthcoming blog will help you with some questions that you should ask your Mentoring Platform Supplier. So check back on 5th November to make sure you make the right mentoring technology decision.
David Garvie, Managing Director – sfG MentorNet
Coach Mentoring Ltd recommend MentorNet, especially in combination with their Mentoring Starter Package.