From Our Mailbox
Q: How important is it to reward mentors?
A: It depends on the culture in your organization. Some organizations reward everything. Some do not. Appreciation and recognition go a long way and are often sufficient.
Some institutions of higher education for example offer their mentors release time for mentoring or count mentoring time as committee service time. In professional service firms, a special code is sometimes developed for mentoring so that it is not docked from hours.
Q: What are the right incentives for the mentors to spend more time with mentees?
A: Each organization needs to create its own compelling business case for mentoring that speaks to those engaged in mentoring in significant and meaningful ways. We call it the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Your WIFFM should speak to the organization benefits, individual benefits in a language that is meaningful to them.
Q: How long should a mentoring relationship last (e.g., 1 year, 6 month, etc.)?
It depends on the goals of the program and/or the nature of the learning goal. There is no “should” standard but most last from 9 months to 18 months. Some last two years and encourage mentoring closure conversations at the end of each year.
Q: Is there a risk in never closing a mentoring relationship, if it is okay with both parties?
A: Without a closure conversation, you lose out on a powerful opportunity to reflect and leverage your learning, and plan your next development step with someone who really knows and gets you.
Q: What is the recommended regular meeting /contact frequency?
A: The rule of thumb is to meet regularly and consistently, whether it is weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Having a pre-established meeting date on the calendar helps ensure mutual accountability for making sure that meetings take place or are rescheduled.
Q: If your mentor appears always busy and harassed, how do you handle this as a mentee?
A: You might be making assumptions, so check them out! What you see is not always what you get. Engaging in a frank and honest conversation is a start, i.e., “I’m concerned….” “Is this working for you?” Checking in and checking things out once you have established a relationship will help you stay on track.
Q: How do you evaluate the impact of mentoring programs?
A: Carefully! Set goals for each of your mentoring programs and identify success factors. You will want to use qualitative, quantitative and baseline data to measure your success. See Creating a Mentoring Culture in which Lois Zachary discusses the issue of evaluation and measurement in depth.