How to Make the Most of Mentoring
By Shelley Garside, CHRP
In many ways, mentoring serves to better us both as lifelong learners and leaders. It is a marvelous opportunity to share in a learning experience that will help to shape our own and others’ careers moving into the future.
The HRMA Professional Mentoring Program has been matchmaking minds and crafting success stories for more than 10 years to continued demand. The feedback from our participants has been and continues to be overwhelmingly positive for both mentor and protégé alike.
Regardless of which role you seek to fill, or whether you are simply interested in knowing more about professional mentoring, here are some tips for a successful mentoring relationship that participants have shared:
Commitment: Make sure that all parties have the time to commit to the program as a priority and that there is a genuine desire to be part of the program. If either of these elements are missing, the process cannot function.
A Good Match: Ensure that you can work together. Meet with your mentoring partner and have a frank and open dialogue about who you both are, your expectations for the program, and how you like to work—style, meeting frequency, Skype, in-person preferences etc. As a mentor, I tell my protégé that this experience gets to be all about them as it is their learning experience; one summed it up particularly well: “I am driving the bus and you are the GPS.”
Goals and Objectives: Set clear goals and objectives for the time that you expect to be working together. This is an extremely important process to nail down early in the program. It helps to solidify commitment and keep both parties on track.
Track Progress: Are the goals and objectives being met to everyone’s satisfaction? Does anything need to be adjusted or modified? Remember, this is an organic process and must remain open to change.
Check in: Make sure that all parties are satisfied with the working relationship. Listen for clues during your meetings and solicit feedback. Ask your partner if he or she feels that the process is meaningful and helpful to them. Does he or she feel that we are both living up to our expectations? What if anything needs to be modified or addressed? It is important to hold one another accountable.
Keep it interesting: This is where we get to be creative. Some of us love to have homework assignments to address areas in which we are struggling or would like to improve. Exercises can be challenging and fun, detailed and report-driven or experiential in nature. Consider changing how you meet and what you accomplish in a meeting. A “walk-and-talk” meeting during the day can be a refreshing break from the office. A mentoring vision board or creative journal are also both fun and powerful tools.
Celebrate Success: No matter how small or large, everyone benefits from acknowledging a goal achieved and a little victory from time to time.
Evaluate: Toward the end of the mentoring process, set some time aside to learn from the mentoring experience and the relationship between you and your mentoring partner. Be open and frank to allow for optimum learning on both sides. Consider developing a PMP evaluation form for both partners to complete and later share in a meeting.
Most HR professionals enter the field because they really enjoy working with people and want to a make a difference in other people’s lives. The HRMA Professional Mentoring Program touches the very heart of that HR passion.