Topics to Include in Your Mentor Training

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One important piece of a formal mentoring program is mentor training. However, because mentors are, by definition, people with expertise and experience, it’s sometimes assumed that they don’t need training; and this part of administering a mentoring program gets overlooked.

People who haven’t been a part of a professional mentorship before may lack confidence in their mentoring and coaching abilities, or aren’t sure what is required for success in business mentoring. Training will help these individuals understand what mentoring is, as well as the role of the mentor. 

Hopefully, you will have already recruited people with the qualities of a good mentor, and these individuals will already have many of the important mentoring and coaching skills. However, even experienced mentors will benefit from mentor training that will cover the specifics of the program. 

There are several topics to include in your training session to support the mentoring program’s success. Here are some to consider:


1. The Purpose of the program is the key topic of a mentor training


The objectives of each mentoring program are unique. Mentors should be provided the big picture view of the mentoring program, and what the program is trying to achieve.

This should include organization-level outcomes such as increased retention of key personnel, any specific behavioral changes that are expected in the mentees, or any objectives for the mentee that the program aims to achieve. If the mentor is not aware of the specific aims of the program, they may not focus on the right things with their mentee.


2. Mentoring Skills needs to be included in a mentor training


Some people who are new to mentoring may not yet have all of the qualities of a good mentor. Comprehensive mentor skills training that helps prepare mentors for success in their new relationship might include the following:


Active listening.

Probably the most important mentoring skill is to listen while withholding judgment. Without a safe place for the mentee to share ideas, discuss problems, and try out different solutions, the mentoring program isn’t likely to be successful. Effective training for mentors can include active listening strategies, as well as opportunities to practice and receive feedback on their practice.


Building trust with the mentee.

Business mentoring is built on trust between the mentor and mentee. The mentor can build trust with the mentee throughout the mentoring program by showing up on time, keeping conversations confidential, and being upfront and honest. These strategies as well as others should be communicated in the training program. 


Setting goals.

For mentoring programs focused on skill development, goal-setting might be an important part of the process. For example, the mentor might help the mentee improve their sales skills, and one goal might be for the mentee to lead a certain number of sales meetings. Many mentors would benefit from training on how to set and achieve performance goals to better support their mentee.

Encouraging others.

Many early career mentees have low confidence in their own ability levels. This can be particularly common in extremely competitive environments, or when the mentee is a member of a group that is underrepresented in the organization. Hard-driving executives may not have a lot of experience encouraging others, and training can help give them some ideas for encouraging their mentees. 

Giving feedback.

In many cases, mentees might not be receiving a lot of feedback outside of the mentoring program. At times, the managers of mentees lack skills, time, or interest in providing ample feedback.

As a result, one of the benefits of mentoring for the mentee is often getting feedback that they aren’t getting anywhere else. However, giving feedback is a skill that many mentors could improve, as well. A good mentoring training program will allow the mentor opportunities to practice giving feedback.


Also read: Leadership Skills: Requirements for an Effective Mentor


3. Training on Special Topics Related to the Mentoring Program


mentor training - topics related to mentoring program

If your mentoring program has specific objectives, it might be appropriate to provide mentors with additional training.

For example, if your mentoring program’s goals are related to diversity and inclusion, it might be helpful to provide training for mentors that includes information such as the representation of different racial groups at each level of the company, strategies for working and communicating with people from different backgrounds, and other diversity topics. 


4. Tips, tricks, and ideas for the mentoring program should also be discussed in a mentor training


An experienced mentoring program administrator will be able to anticipate the needs of the mentor throughout the program, and provide tips and ideas to support the professional mentorship.

For example, at the beginning of a mentoring relationship, mentors can use support related to how to create a mentoring plan with the mentee. Throughout the program, mentors can benefit from ideas for activities to do with their mentees. At the end of the program, mentors need advice and tips on winding down and transitioning from the mentoring relationship. 

Even though mentors are often chosen for the role due to their skills and expertise, they will benefit from mentor training. Don’t overlook training for mentors when designing your organization’s mentoring program.

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