Optimising mentorship programmes

By Dr Lydia Cillié-Schmidt

The results of  research published in 2017 by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) captured in a report called “Mentoring Matters: Developing Talent With Formal Mentoring Programs” show that organisations that train mentors and mentees before or during the programme are significantly more likely to indicate that mentoring programmes are highly effective at meeting their learning goals. The training covers aspects such as communication, listening, and accountability.

I find that if you also include a structured bonding session after both the mentors and mentees have been trained, the chances of success are further increased. The structured bonding session usually  consists of activities facilitating the following:

  • Getting to know each other’s personality preferences and the impact thereof on the relationship
  • Building a vision for the mentoring relationship
  • Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the mentor/mentee (for their specific relationship0
  • Identifying potential obstacles for their specific situation and how to deal with them
  • Trust building and communication
  • Designing a feedback structure
  • Building a roadmap with milestones to achieve the learning objectives

The chances of success could be enhanced even further if the mentoring roadmap with milestones is built in the form of a Learning Path, captured on a Learning Experience Management System. I find the Learning Path methodology by Learning Paths International (www.learningspaths.com) very helpful in structuring the total learning experience, sequencing the learning activities in the mentoring relationship to accelerate learning. This is then captured on TREK (http://www.cognitiveadvisors.com/trek), a Learning Experience Management System. Using a system like TREK makes it easier to track and measure learning that is focused on experience, such as in the mentoring programme. It allows mentees to reflect on their experiences to solidify the learning, the mentors can support the learning process through review and feedback and mentees earn badges to recognise achievements of key competencies/proficiencies.

It is worthwhile optimising the organisation’s mentorship programme using complimentary methodology and systems, as the results of the survey by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) showed that organisations benefit immensely by implementing mentoring effectively. The benefits include  higher employee engagement and retention, growth of high-potential employees, stimulating the creation of intra-organisational relationships/collaboration and knowledge management and transfer.

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