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When I first started working with organizations to design mentoring programs, I did research to learn the keys to successful mentoring partnerships. The biggest surprise was the importance of deciding on logistics up front. Many potential mentoring pairs failed to form because the parties did not agree on the little things up front. Below are tips I have gathered to help both participants in formal programs as well as those who form their own partnerships:
1. Meeting Schedule: Decide on an approximate meeting schedule. I recommend once a month for most partnerships.
2. Means to Schedule Meetings: Share the best way to get on each other’s calendar. I have talked to too many protégés who miss opportunities because they didn’t know how to get on the mentor’s calendar.
3. Scheduled Meetings: Don’t wait until the end of one meeting to schedule the next. Always have the next two or three meetings on the calendar.
4. Length of Partnership: For formal partnerships, the organization may suggest a length of time to meet (usually a year). For informal mentoring, I suggest still having a date on the calendar to review goals and examine the relationship.
5. Confidentiality: Mentors and protégés need to discuss what confidentiality means to them. It is the foundation of trust, which is the basic currency of mentoring. I will explore the role of trust more fully in future issues.