The Mentoring Action Plan And How To Put One Together

Mentoring is a wonderful activity that brings together not only two individuals looking for ways to mutually grow both personally and professionally, but also a practice that enhances the opportunity for employees inside a company to transcend and for the organization itself to be better by ensuring the people that make up their ranks, are individuals committed to growth and the accomplishment of the mission. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about all of these benefits before in our many articles on mentoring, and one of the things that we have always said is that just like any endeavor you are about to undertake, you must have a clear direction of where you are going. A ship needs a bearing as well as a map to navigate the vast waters, and just like a vessel, so does your mentoring relationship need to have meaning and a clear objective in mind in order to be successful. Today we want to talk about mentoring plans, about how they are put together and the criteria to judge whether they are working the way they should.

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A mentoring action plan is a way for a mentee to realize where they are currently, where they want to get to by the means of their new found mentoring relationship, and more importantly, how they are going to go about actually getting there in the first place. The first thing that must be done is to ask yourself some really insightful questions like: What exactly do I want to accomplish from this relationship? Which skills do I lack or need to improve in order to be a better version of myself? Are there any alliances or partnerships I am interested in forging? Is there a way to measure what I have learned and put it to the test? How can I apply these new skills to my current position and how can they help me advance further professionally?

All of these can help mentees create a vision statement. A vision statement is all about seeing yourself in a place where you are not yet, but where you want to get to eventually.

Creating a vision statement can be considered the first action to take when putting together your mentoring action plan as it is used as the basis of decision-making processes and a way to find out what you really want to get out of your efforts being placed into the mentoring program. A vision plan requires for you to make a list considering the questions we talked about earlier, and also include things that you see as your own personal weaknesses and strengths. This information can help you identify your capabilities, limitations and immediate goals to pursue.

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The next logical step is to actually identify those goals and state them in a specific and realistic way so they are attainable considering your current skills and intentions. Taking a look at your past performance reviews or analyzing prospective jobs or positions you would like to attain are great ways to identify areas of possible development. Remember the acronym SMART when are putting together a set of goals to work towards.

S stands for being specific about the things you want to achieve. M is for those goals to be measurable and meaningful for you, your environment, the company, etc. A is for attainable, achievable or action-oriented instead of empty words that are nothing more than just hopeful-thinking but lacking direction and acceptance. R stands not just for realistic by also relevant and reasonable. It goes without saying that your goals must lead you somewhere and not simply be something else you are able to do,  since that by itself, doesn’t amount to much. Last but not least, we have T that stands for tangible, time-based and timely because you have to set timelines in order to know if this is working at all or you are just wasting your time. Challenging yourself is quite important because nothing worth it comes along without hard work.

Setting deadlines should come after and this is the way you get motivated to see progress and push yourself to continue moving forward. This can be done by having schedule benchmarks and feedback sessions to evaluate progress together and adjust accordingly.

The real change begins when the mentoring action plan is truly put together and subsequently put to work. Having everything laid out for you is the best way to take charge and begin to work towards objectives that can be measured and closely monitored. Regardless of how things are done, mentoring relationships are organic partnerships and they will find their own way to move forward because they do not all work the same way. Your particular case may find a different set of challenges as those of your coworkers and have common strengths that others may wish they had. The important thing is to continue growing and to always understand the importance of proper planning.


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.

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The Best Qualities That A Mentor Should Have.

A good mentoring relationship is an outstanding tool to help new employees and young professionals in the field to make sense of many of the hurdles and challenges they will face in an always-changing business world. Are newcomers the only ones that can be benefited by a mentorship? Absolutely not, mentoring is something that can help anyone at any level of the organization who feels like they could benefit from the advice and guidance of someone who is more experienced and whose opinion they value and find particularly helpful in their career advancement. Here in Suzzanne Uhland’s, we have previously talked about the most important aspects to consider when choosing a mentor, so today we want to focus on the mentor’s side and discuss what we consider are the best qualities a mentor should have in order to be the most qualified person for the job and truly make an impact on the life of those he takes under his wing. These are some of the most important qualities a mentor should have, listed in no particular order.

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Willingness to share

A mentor is someone who is already considered an expert in his field or area of expertise, but this expertise and professional accomplishments are not useful unless there is a willingness and ability to share them with mentees. A good mentor is aware and understands what it’s like to start out in the field and that is why they are the most qualified person to serve a guide to those who seek their professional and personal advancement. Mentors are not selfish and they do not hold back information as they share everything they deem relevant to help their mentees get ahead.

Always prepared

A mentor takes their role seriously and understands the serious commitment they must have to their mentees and their process. Preparing for each session is just one aspect of their readiness, as they must be prepared to answer all questions and find strategies to tackle possible challenges alongside their protégés. A great mentor is respectful of their responsibility and knows that they must be ready to guide the sessions and not let them become a simple process of answering questions and giving feedback. The mentor must be prepared in such way that they can answer questions about topics the mentee may be interested in pursuing or have questions about.  

A real interest in the mentoring relationship

Like we mentioned before, a great mentor does not take their responsibility lightly and that is why they are absolutely invested in the success of their mentee. A great mentor understands their effect in the relationship with their mentee and are interested in making the best possible impact they can accomplish. They understand that success is shared between both parties and they make everything within their ability to provide their mentee with an empowering mentoring relationship while at the same time continuing their own personal growth and becoming even more knowledgeable within their own field.

Effective communication skills

One of the most important things a mentor can do is always provide guidance and nurturing feedback. Effective communication skills mean being able to get your message across while at the same time being honest with your mentee. This area is one of the most valued in a mentoring relationship, as it is important to receive feedback in order to be able to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and thus creating a plan to follow to address those shortcomings.  

Curiosity and eagerness to learn

A great mentor understands the need to continue learning and to stay away from stagnation. A person who is at a place in their career where they can no longer grow and do not have any higher aspirations will not make a good mentor because they lack the understanding for continuous improvement of their personal and professional persona. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that a good mentor must stay in touch with what goes on in the industry and stay on top of new changes and the way such industry transforms with time. All of this knowledge is highly important and must be always be present within the mentor’s way of approaching the mentoring relationship.

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Respected by others in the organization

Mentees look up to mentors for being the one filling the roles they want to occupy later within the organization. A person with a great reputation and that is respected by peers and subordinates alike is someone whose opinion will matter to a mentee. Someone whose work is valued within the company is a great example for mentees to follow because this person can have a great insight into what it takes to be successful in such way that the people around you admire you. One of the things we have mentioned time and again is the importance of setting a great example for those you lead, and there are few things that can testify for a great example to follow than those who have earned the respect of those around them.