Step 3: Implement your Initiative
Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to bring your vision to life. Remember that the beginning days of an initiative are the defining days. Successful mentoring initiatives need ongoing support and monitoring to ensure that relationships thrive. Again, partner organizations can significantly help you with many action items in this step, particularly if you’re a smaller company.
Take full advantage of your partner’s expertise, especially when it comes to recruiting and screening prospective mentors and mentees, as well as planning orientation and training sessions for them.
Recruit your mentors.
Based on your established criteria and in collaboration with your partner organization, target appropriate mentors within your company. Realistically describe the program’s goals and expected outcomes and provide candidates with a written statement that outlines eligibility requirements.
Recruit your mentees.
Your company may not have ready access to young adults who are interested in participating in a mentoring program. This is where a partner organization can play a critical role in reaching out to young adults whose needs and interests would benefit most from your initiative (young adults may also be engaged with another program). Provide prospective mentees with a written statement that outlines the eligibility requirements for the program.
Screen your mentors.
Determine if they have the time, mindset and commitment to be successful. Make sure they’re willing to commit to a few hours per month. Conduct at least one face-to-face interview per candidate, as well as a reference check. (Note: in a best case scenario, a partner would help with screening because they have the experience and infrastructure.) Provide prospective mentees with a written statement that outlines the eligibility requirements for the program.
Screen your mentees.
Be sure they’re ready to commit the time to a relationship and have a positive attitude about being mentored. Again, a partner organization will be a great asset here.
Conduct mentor training.
Hold a two-hour training session that will provide mentors with the basic knowledge and skills needed to build an effective mentoring relationship (this will also offer mentors a chance to meet one another, planting the seed for a future support network). Training should include a focus on mentor’s expectations, with an emphasis on keeping them realistic. Your partner can help you tailor your training sessions to address specific concerns for opportunity youth.
Checklist: Successful Mentor Training
Checklist: Successful Mentor Training
- Walk through initiative goals and expectations
- Discuss mentor obligations and roles
- Provide tips for relationship development and maintenance
- Cover ethical issues
- Provide support resources and assistance information
- Discuss effective commitment length and closure of the mentoring relationship
Conduct mentee training
Before matches are made make sure mentees understand the role of their mentors, their responsibility to communicate regularly and appropriate behaviors during meetings. A partner organization can help prep mentees.
Make the match.
The most significant predictor of positive outcomes from mentoring is a close, trusting relationship between mentors and mentees. Matches should be made based on common interests. Similarities such as gender, race and ethnicity are often recommended, but studies show that common interests trump all. Most important is the mentor’s ability to tune into the mentee’s interests and needs.
Offer follow-up training, evaluation and problem-solving support.
In order for your initiative to be a success, matches should be evaluated throughout the duration of the program. Inevitably, challenges will arise. Be there for your matches when they need help solving problems and offer training opportunities for the duration of the relationship. Your partner will be a huge help with this. Also, consider setting aside time for check-ins with your mentors, too.
End on a high note.
Make sure the formal relationship between mentor and mentee concludes with a sense of closure, giving everyone a chance to reflect on the experience. A big event at the end of a mentoring experience is a nice touch.
- Set clear expectations about time commitments and activities for both mentors and mentees
- Hold orientation sessions to ground everyone with a common roadmap
- Reimburse mentors (and mentees) for reasonable expenses to keep morale high
- Have a procedure in place for handling challenges (e.g. when either party isn’t fulfilling its roles and responsibilities)
- Provide mentors with a list of recommended mentee activities/ topics that align with initiative goals to help them get started