Three Keys to Mentoring Program Training

by Rik Nemanick, Ph.D.

Over the last ten years, I have trained over 2,000 mentors in formal mentoring programs. In that time, I have tried to understand what keys mentors and protégés need to successfully initiate their partnerships. While there is a lot to cover to help mentoring pairs get off to a good start, there are three key points that need to be covered:

 Logistics: When I started working with mentoring programs, I interviewed dozens of participants in formal mentoring programs. The biggest predictor of whether an individual had a successful experience was whether they agreed on logistics up front. By logistics, I mean frequency of meeting, common meeting venue, means to quickly get onto each other’s schedule, etc. While these may seem like minor points, if they are not shared, they can derail a mentoring partnership before it gets started.

 Roles: After logistics, mentors and protégé need to understand their respective roles, meaning who is responsible for what. Without that clarity, you end up with frustration on both sides. You have protégés waiting for a mentor’s call and mentors leaving their protégés hanging. The two basic role tenets I share with participants in our mentoring programs are the following:

  • The protégé’s primary job is to drive the partnership.
  • The mentor’s primary job is to be as available as is reasonable.

Goals: The final piece that needs to be addressed during a kick-off to a mentoring program is to focus the protégés on their goals. A protégé with goals for the mentoring partnership gives direction and a sense of purpose to mentoring meetings. The goals will help the mentor and protégé have constructive, meaningful conversations that are beneficial to both parties.

To comment on this article or to learn more about mentoring, contact Rik Nemanick at