How to have a positive impact as a mentor

The job of a mentor is quite serious. It is meant to have an impact on somebody else’s life. Therefore, it better be a good impact.

If we took a minute to think about the best mentor we have ever had, we would remember some important pieces of advice, attitudes, situations and all sorts of events that would help us identify why our mentor had such a positive impact in our lives.

On the mentor’s side, having a positive impact on mentees can be quite challenging. Not because intentions are not nice. But, because becoming the example to follow or the advice-giver of someone who is trusting you its career, is rather difficult and represents a big responsibility.

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There are many different types of mentors. All of them may vary according to the type of business they work with, or the type of mentee they will guide. It can even be said that mentors come in every possible “shape and flavor”. They can come in the shape of a dear professor, a friend, family member, a parent, or a coach.

Regardless the type of mentor that you want to become or already are, there are some basic tips that you should keep in mind in order to have a positive impact on your mentees. Here, Suzzanne Uhland will share some of these tips.

Related: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart.

1 – You need to know what it means to be a mentor

If you are in the business world or are a lawyer and you are good at what you do, you will inevitably become a mentor. This is something that most people can’t escape of and it is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and legacy.

However, before you become a mentor you need to actually know what that means. It is not about improvising and acting according to your needs. It is actually about knowing your mentee and establishing a relationship with that person.

Being a good mentor requires you to develop communication skills as well as a working style. Nevertheless, if you really want to have a positive impact on your mentee, you need to gain their trust as their advisor.

Being a trusted advisor can mean several different things. All these things are summarized in making yourself available for your mentee whenever it needs advice and support. Giving your mentee support is what actually defines your role as a mentor.

Acknowledging your role as a mentor and knowing how to support your mentee in order to provide it with great advice and support, will help your mentee keep a great mindset. This will represent the greatest impact overall.

2 – Measure time

A mentor and mentee relationship should not last forever. It will need to last for as long as the mentee feels ready to face the challenges of the market. In terms of time, this cannot be defined properly.

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The relationship between a mentor and a mentee can be as short as one single meeting around a cup of coffee or as long as several years of preparation. It is important to keep in mind that when this kind of relationships extend in time and become long term, the mentor has the obligation of actually knowing its mentee.

The longer the mentoring process is, the more important it becomes for the mentor to know and understand the goals, personality, and learning style of its mentee. Long-term relationships regarding this matter are more fulfilling when both parties have an enriching attitude towards the other.

3 – Define your mentorship plan and expectations

Not all mentors are equal, and not all mentee will react in the same way to the same things. Having said that, if the mentor wants to have an amazing impact on its mentee, it should prepare a mentorship plan.

This plan must be based on the expectations that both parties share from the beginning. Expectations work as goals and clarify what both parties want and don’t want since the moment they start their relationship

Understanding these expectations will help you understand where your mentee is coming from when asking something from you, and vice versa.

4 – Work on your emotional intelligence

Being a mentor can be emotionally challenging. There might be situations in which you want to give up, react poorly, and stop your job right there. This is why emotional intelligence plays such an important role in the job of any mentor.

By becoming a mentor, you will get the chance to know they very special personality of your mentee. You will have to deal with its needs and the previous experiences that have shaped your mentees personality. Knowing all this and using this information in the best interest of yourself and the mentee will make a huge difference.

Keeping all these tips in mind will help become a good mentor and have a positive impact on your mentee.

* Featured Image courtesy of rawpixel.com at Pexels.com

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Mentoring: The best Human Resources Management tool

Today, more than management of human resources, the issue under discussion is the management of people. People are actually the most important asset in companies because they are carriers of knowledge; transferable, interchangeable, and regenerative knowledge. Moreover, knowledge is the second most valuable resource on the scale of priorities, and, for this reason, CEOs around the world are looking for ways to care for and generate it more quickly. The way it is transferred and how it is shared is key to respond to the increasingly complex problems which happen so quickly.

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Well, the bridge that one of those two great asses, people and knowledge is learning. Learning is the most important tool for companies in this regard, and has its origin in interpersonal connection: Something that someone knows is connected with a new situation that another person must solve. In this way, what someone knows is connected with what others know, and so new knowledge is produced. In this sense, companies need to look for systems or tools that enhance that connection, sociability, contacts between people that lead to the creation of new ideas, new opportunities, and new businesses. That is where mentoring becomes relevant.

Mentoring is one of those new forms of learning (a knowledge management tool) that has become a necessity for companies. What is it? We could define it as a learning and development practice of people in organizations, consisting of learning from the experience of others (mentors,) who also help their mentees to develop their potential and relate within and outside the organizational environment with other people who may be relevant to their career. Mentors are people with a consolidated and well-positioned trajectory within and outside the company who share and transmit their business and organizational culture experience to a mentee, so that the development of his or her potential takes place, and, therefore the learning within the company becomes much faster and effective.

Read also: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart, by Suzzanne Uhland

Mentors act as role models, as learning guides, as transmitters of knowledge. They challenge their minds to take on new goals to increase their level of skills. They help them to reflect, and question what has always been done, how it has been done, or why it has been done in a certain way, always looking for new ways of doing things to arrive at new solutions, and, consequently, new opportunities. Mentors are connectors: They relate to their minds outside and within the organization, providing them with valuable relationships and showing them how to build a network of contacts.

Mentoring is a social process, arising from the interaction between people, from questions to active listening. Its main purpose is to generate ideas through powerful questions, questions that produce reflection, questions that draw people from their comfort zone and make them move forward looking for new ways, seeing things from another perspective. This is, in a nutshell, that someone who works day by day in a company can seek advice from others who have been in similar situations to meet their professional challenges. This type of learning is enhanced through meetings between mentors and mentees in which career objectives are established within the company, thanks to dialogue and discussion on problems and situations that occur in daily work, and plans of action are drawn to achieve objectives.

In these sessions between mentor and mentee, you learn through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, points of view, and experiences through advice. Instead of inviting experts from outside the company to train your employees, when it comes to mentoring, knowledge is provided based on the difficulties they have faced and have had to resolve within the organization. People have greater confidence in the advice of someone in the same situation, and therefore, are more receptive to them. In addition, peer conversations can provide both emotional and practical support, and favor interactive thinking, which consists in reasoning with others, developing interpersonal reasoning. It is about reflecting in common, putting oneself in the other’s place and seeing things from different perspectives and categories of thought.

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Because mentoring is essentially a social process, it has a very important cooperative base. We all know it: Cooperation generates a positive energy within the organization, which develops personal capacities beyond normal limits, and increases the performance of the entire organization. Cooperation is encouraged through dialogue, allowing doubts, questioning, and confrontation between the different members of the organization.

Designing mentoring strategies within the company enhances the capacity for internal learning and prepares companies to respond in a more agile and innovative way to the new challenges and changes of the market. If mentoring is built on a proper fostering of diversity, the organization will enable the creation of a much more extensive, diverse, and effective learning base, which will lead to greater competitiveness. A company cannot advance solely on the basis of external and technical training: It must also learn to internalize knowledge, skills, and attitudes through shared learning processes such as mentoring.

Recommended: Mentoring and Human Resources: A Perfect Match

* Featured Image courtesy of Jeso Carneiro at Flickr.com

How to make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor?

It is well-known that mentors are important characters that help with the professional development of individuals. This is not an exception for law students who plan to one day become successful attorneys or start their own law firms. Mentors help to break that gap between experienced attorneys and the ones who just graduated from law school.

Mentorship needs to be a both-sided relationship between two individuals: the mentor and the mentee. Mentorship should be enriching and mutually beneficial. However, it is important to consider that all mentors needed to be mentees and that is why it is so important to find the right mentor. Depending on the type of mentor you have will be the type of mentor you will become.

In order for mentees to become great mentors, they need to receive great knowledge from their mentorship experience. Wisdom and useful advice are also important to set some standards and references for the future law mentor.

In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will review what is to be a law mentor and how do mentees take that step to become successful law mentors.

Related: How Mentors Inspire Their People Everyday

Being a mentee

As a mentee, your responsibility is to choose a mentor that can actually suit your needs. This is very important in law since you are only allowed to specialize in certain fields under that approval of a mentor. A mentor is not necessarily someone who sings in for the role. It can be anyone you are close to during the last years of law school or right after graduating from it.

Many mentors come in the shape of superiors who happen to work at the same place that you do. This is why it is very important for you to be surrounded by professionals that can give some key information and advice to your formation. This means that as a mentee you probably won’t have a boss who is constantly lecturing. But, a figure who is always willing to answer questions and help you grow professionally.

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Sometimes, those who once were mentees and now are mentors look back at the history and realize that some of their best mentors were not formally described as such. They were individuals with whom they could hold an enriching professional relationship with.

Those who are about to become mentors after being mentees should always keep in mind the important pieces of advice they once received from their mentors. Being a law mentee is about having the opportunity to observe, meet, and building long-lasting relationships. This happens because in the future you will want to share your skills, knowledge, and connections with those you are mentoring.

Becoming a mentor

Having said that, how do you make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor? There are different answers to this question.

First, as a law mentee, you will have many mentors along your career. This will mean that you will know many attorneys and they will know you back. Having a nice background is highly important to become a successful attorney.

In many cases, a former mentee who is now a successful attorney will become a mentor by simply helping those individuals who just got out of law school. This way, the person who used to be a mentee will start to give hints, advice and pass knowledge to a new generation of attorneys who are eager to learn. This mentor – mentee relationship won’t be formally established but will help the mentee take the right path.

Another way for a former mentee to become a mentor is thanks to the law-student decision. It has been said that mentorship is a both-sided relationship. This is how many law-students or recently graduated lawyers look out for the type of mentor they want to have. After this research takes places, they will approach to their potential mentor to start a mentorship relationship.

When both the mentor and the mentee feel comfortable and find common ground to grow a mutually beneficial relationship, the mentoring process starts. However, this is not yet a formal mentoring relationship. It is an agreement between two people on the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

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The last way in which a former mentee can become a law mentor is by actually growing as an attorney. This will mean that the attorney will have a determinant background in the law practice. Also, it will mean that it is a successful and knowledgeable figure. When this happens, usually a law association spots the former mentee and offers it to become a mentor.

There are some associations in the United States who are dedicated to helping law-students become experienced and well-rounded professionals. These associations look for mentor candidates based on the student’s needs and want.

Bottom line, there is not only one way in which a law mentee could become a mentor. It is a process in which knowledge is gradually gained. It is also a new step that needs to be taken in order to help the new generations of attorneys to come be successful.

5 Basic mentoring principles you should assimilate

If you are reading this blog, it is possible that mentoring is already your endeavor, or maybe you are considering working as a mentor. In the latter case (but not less important regarding the first one,) it is essential that you know the basis of an appropriate mentoring; what are the guidelines that will help and guide you through the fascinating and sometimes complex world of helping others find ways. So, in this post, you will find four basic principles that you should evaluate and remember during your study, research, and, above all, on the battlefield. I hope that this information is of your total pleasure and usefulness, and, in that case, do not forget to share it with whom you consider that may appreciate it.

Recommended: 7 Reasons Why You Should Become a Mentor

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  1. Trust

The relationship between a mentor and mentee is, above all, a relationship of trust. Do not think that a title will automatically open the door to someone’s mind and heart. Remember that someone who sits in the mentee chair often feels that someone will tell him what to do with his or her life, and this is something that most people do not enjoy.

No one enjoys feeling like a child again, at least in this sense. So, remember it well: Trust is something you must earn. The key question here is how you break that wall of institutionality between you and the mentee, how you show that you are also a human being who, like him or her, also needs help from time to time. Be casual, joke a little, and establish a bond. That is not less professional at all.

  1. Voluntariness

This principle is intrinsically linked to the former one. Remember that the mentee is there because he needs help, not because someone is forcing him or her to do so, and this element is perhaps one of the most valuable factors of mentoring: The will to learn, to be guided. For this reason, you should always ensure that this relationship is voluntary.

Never allow anyone to force your mentee to initiate a mentoring process with you, and, above all, be careful to condition or manipulate the will of your mentee in case he or she decides to end the process. The only link that reinforces the relationship between a mentor and a mentee is the trust and willingness of both.

  1. The mentee directs each session

Remember it well: Mentoring is not coaching. Unlike the latter, it is the mentee who defines the issues to be addressed in each mentoring session. Although the mentor has a more general perspective of the knowledge the mentee is acquiring, the relationship between the two is not exactly a lecture. The mentee has a need about a specific topic and will approach the mentor to help him/her, above all, to ask the right questions that will help him/her to find satisfactory answers. This is vital: Learn to recognize the differences between mentoring and coaching. Coaching is not a bad thing, of course not. Simply, each process (mentoring and coaching) has different goals, methods, and standards.

Read also: Is there a difference between a mentor and a coach? by Suzzanne Uhland

  1. Patience

Really, there is no need to run in a hurry. Each person assimilates knowledge at a different rate and relates to it in a way that other people may not. So, be patient and take the time to complete each step of the mentoring process. No matter how much you know about a topic, you will realize that being on the side of the mentor will force you to learn much more, and what you already know will become a challenge somewhere along the way. Mentoring is a bilateral relationship in several senses. You, as a mentor, will also be mentee sometimes. So, go slow if necessary.

  1. It is all about goals and the way to achieve them

Every mentoring relationship is circumscribed around the achievement of objectives for which the relationship is to begin. In this sense, mentor and mentee must define their objectives before starting the whole planning process, and, above all, to make the goals tangible for the subsequent measurement of their accomplishment. It is important to keep in mind that a mentoring process is a learning process, and, therefore, it is useful to differentiate performance goals from learning goals. The latter contribute to the former, even so, in a mentoring process, it is important to work on both axes, since they re-feed each other. Likewise, it is interesting to define and differentiate the target goals from the intermediate objectives that will allow you to divide the mentoring process into small steps.

The more defined the objectives, the measurement process will be simpler, and there will be less ambiguity.

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It is very important that you – as a mentor – dialogue with your mentee about these principles before beginning the process. These (and not just these) principles will be the limits that will help you both to know what mentoring is, what it is not, and where you should direct this feedback relationship.

 

How To Enhance The Mentoring Relationship As A Mentee

Here is Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we have talked about all the great benefits mentoring programs offer the organization and each of the individuals involved in this type of relationships that stimulate mutual growth. People are often skeptical about mentorships because they feel that it is perhaps too good to be true. The idea of having a person who is successful and much more experienced than yourself, helping you bounce ideas out of each other and providing you with a unique insight into your own professional field for free, is sometimes difficult to accept. Mentorships seem like a great deal but in a world as competitive as ours, it is difficult to simply accept something that apparently puts you in the position of being benefited without having to give anything up but your time in return.

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The reason why people may think this about mentoring programs has more to do with our own ignorance of the role of a mentee than with any possible insidious nature hidden within a mentor’s motives. It is important to understand that successful mentoring relationships are a two-way street and that mentors have just as much to gain from them as mentees do. If you have been guilty of this mentality, then I invite you to learn a little more about the actual role of the mentee. And how being in the seemingly receiving end of the relationship, also comes with its own set of responsibilities and the need to give back.

Successful mentees that are able to make the most out of their relationship with senior individuals are those who seize the opportunities that arise when two minds work together on a single goal and are able to meet regularly to engage in that which they are passionate about.

One of the best ways to make your relationship become more reciprocal is to give a chance to your mentor to listen to what you have to say. Sometimes you have a lot to offer but neither of you are aware of the knowledge and experience you possess and that could be of great value. Mentors are people who are also looking to learn and will be happy to participate in activities that can turn into a learning experience. It is important that your fit with a mentor is based on a mutual understanding and you are both matched based on your personality and common values, since those type of pairings usually work best and spark the necessary curiosity that will allow both parties to become interested in each other’s set of skills and what they can teach one another. Simply being a good company and a genuinely interested individual can go a long way as a mentee.

Another aspect to consider is to be understanding and accepting of your role in the relationship and the fact that in most situations, it will be better for you as the mentee, to be flexible as to the dynamics of the mentorship. Your mentor may be a person who prefers to take on a coaching approach or perhaps they are more into answering questions and allow you to lead the course of the program. It is important for you to be aware of this and be respectful as to which type of relationship seems to be favored by your mentor.

Do not be afraid to talk about the things you know. Everyone is an expert at something and you have not achieved what you have thus far without being particularly good at something. Do not feel that your skills are irrelevant as you will be surprised how the things you know may change someone else’s life and in this case, help your mentor learn something or receive advice from a seemingly unlikely source. Something as common as the age or background difference can be a great place to start, as you can find many ways to teach your mentor something that you take for granted.

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Feedback is a great way to show you mentor that you respect the work you do together and that you take seriously the time they invest in your development. When you give your mentor feedback, you are helping him or her expand their own leadership skills and grow as professionals. Mentoring sessions are an excellent opportunity to evaluate one’s outlook on leadership and to conduct experiments on a smaller scale in which a mentor can evaluate the way they guide an individual and assert their own experience in order to help someone else direct their efforts towards their own professional and personal development. Just like giving feedback, it is important to actually listen to advice and trust the person you are working with. There is nothing more frustrating than a mentee that doesn’t listen to advice, as it makes the relationship ineffective and the time spent together feel as it were wasted.

* Featured Image courtesy of Matthew Burpee at Flickr.com

The Best Uses For Technology In Mentoring Inside Today’s Workplace

Today more than ever, technology is a present influence in every single aspect of our lives. We are using it to stay in touch with those who are far away, it helps us make our jobs a lot easier, we can entertain ourselves but also study, learn and have knowledge about the world we live in, available right at our fingertips.

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That ubiquitous nature of technology has made it so that we always try to find ways to fit it into all of our activities and figure out how we can enhance the way we interact with the things that surround us. When it comes to mentoring, the situation is no difference, as a matter of fact it becomes more than simply a choice that we may feel inclined to consider, it is something absolutely necessary in order to fully take advantage of the tools at our disposal and how we can use them to give mentoring a wider reach and a more effect application. Technology can affect mentoring at the personal level, meaning where the rubber meets the road and the mentor and mentee actually convene to look at realistic work plans to go about achieving their goals. New technological advances are also crucial when it comes to putting together a mentoring program for a company, as these important resources will shape the way the program works, how participants are matched and what sort of impact can be expected from being part of this initiative.

Convenience is one of the main factors that technology enhances and brings with it when involved in mentoring. Starting for example with the breakdown of geographical barriers, as mentor and mentee do not have to be in the same place in order to work together. The location is no longer a hindrance when it comes to finding a mentor, or even a group of mentors that can help someone achieve its goals and grow. Not having to stay in one place in order to receive guidance can help mentees use their time wisely and dedicate energy to their mentoring process that would otherwise be wasted with traveling, or by settling under the wing of one mentor that can only help them with one area of their process. The convenience of technology can allow you to have a coach that can help you find balance with the way you handle your personal affairs and creativity, while also giving you the chance of having a professional relationship with another mentor who aids you with career advancement within your own field of work.

Another great advantage that technology brings to the world of mentorships is the way that it has made communication between people so seamlessly. Constant communication between mentor and mentee is one of the cornerstones of a successful professional relationship and nothing has revolutionized the way we communicate like the new technologies. Today you can have video meetings on the go, send pictures, files, videos and audio files with a tool that you can both carry inside your pockets and that keeps you connected to the largest network in existence. Communication within the new technologies are erasing any type of issues that could have arisen in earlier times when planning how to maintain mentorships partners connected.

Reports, documents, and files pertaining the mentoring process can also be accessed by partners with a simple click through one of the many cloud services that make them editable by all parties involved and immediately update any changes made to them. Remember that having a well-placed system for gauging progress can sometimes be just as important as the progress itself

Training is another aspect that has changed so much and so quickly, that we can laugh today by thinking of our reactions if we were told 15 years ago, that you could find so much training, resources and research material online and that you could access all of it from your phone. Companies are understanding this and seeing the great benefits that it brings to their employees. E-learning paired with mentoring programs that are relevant and that take advantage of technology are great not just for the mentees, but also for mentors who in most cases, are people susceptible to continue using time-tested practices but tend to ignore technological breakthroughs that could exponentially enhance their own methods.

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Technology breaches the gap that sometimes appears when we talk about mentoring being a two-way street, as younger generations are better adapting to the changes innovation brings about and can contribute to the partnerships by coming up with strategies and ways to use those technologies to make the most out of the mentorship. Working together to find these strategies is an excellent exercise for participants and also a great way to adjust your mentorship to benefit all parties involved at the moment, and perhaps even those who will come afterwards.

For more great articles on mentoring and how you can make it work for you, check out our publications at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog.

The Reasons Why Mentorship Programs Fail

Mentoring programs are becoming more and more popular as organizations continue to see the great advantages they can bring to their individual members and their company integrity as a whole. Mentoring relationships help junior employees find guidance, direction and a practical way to direct their efforts towards the advancement of their professional career and also their personal endeavors. Senior members can also find great benefits from being part of a mentoring program as they can hone their own leadership skills, learn new abilities and widen their network while making a real difference in someone else’s life. Companies see a lower turnover and a higher index of job satisfaction amongst employees when they introduce mentoring programs into the organization. So why is it that something that is so positive for all parties involved sometimes fails? What are the most common mistakes organizations make when establishing their mentorship programs? That is the topic we will look in depth today here, in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog.

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One of the most common mistakes made at the time of creating a mentoring program can happen right from the start. This mistake is a lack of a balance in structure. Remember in our other article when we talked about the necessary steps to take when creating a mentoring program? We mentioned that right from the beginning, you must set clear goals and try planning exactly what you want to accomplish with the initiative. With that being said, you start to create a structure that will make those goals become attainable and that structure has to be based on the type of mentors and mentees that you are going to have as participants of the program. You have to understand that different individuals have diverse preferences and communication styles. Sometimes, the person in charge of the program fails to take that into consideration and their structure ends up lacking in flexibility or sometimes it even becomes so relax that it could be considered inexistent. The trick is to reach a balance in the structure that helps those who need to maintain their discipline and that doesn’t get in the way of those who are more organized and are able to better manage their time.

Another big mistake to keep in mind is poor training given to mentors and mentees. The problem is that some organizations feel that all they have to do is give people the opportunity to team up and they stop there. That is not the way you go about making sure that your mentorships are successful because you are abandoning your people to their own devices and failing them as an organization. Sometimes there are external factors like geographical constraints that make it difficult to gather your people and have them attend training sessions, but there are other ways of getting it done using the latest technologies. In order to keep your program alive, you must nurture its most crucial aspect and that is the human component.

Poor matching is perhaps one of the main reasons why mentoring relationships fail. Matching criteria must go hand-to-hand with the purpose of the program. The problem is that sometimes that purpose is so vague that people fail to understand what they are looking for in a partner to start a mentoring relationship. You cannot blame your participants if you left them to choose blindly the person they are going to work with.

If the purpose of your program is clear, then you can identify possible candidates and start matching them before the initiative even begins. It is true that in most cases you want partnerships to be formed in a very organic way, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some planned component to it. Like we have said a few times before, it’s all about balance and finding the perfect dose of structure and freedom to choose.

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The last factor we are going to explore is the lack of clear benchmarks for success. This happens very often with companies that are hasty to start a mentoring program to meet some expectations but fail to realize the true responsibilities that come along with it and ignore the fact that the road to success is made out of many small stations along the way. Benchmarks are small goals that help track success and that motivate participants because it allows them to clearly map their improvement. Success must be measured and gauged so it can be repeated and so effective practices can be studied in order to implement them in other areas of the program.

This last part because an issue because sometimes organizations rush towards an end goal but forget that when it comes to mentoring it isn’t so clearly cut. What works for some may not be so evident for others, and while something may be seen like the norm in a company, it can be new territory to others.