Regular readers of our blog know we're big proponents in training and educating mentors, mentees, and program managers. That's why we provide so many free and budget-friendly resources, such as our mentor training courses and mentoring ebooks. We want to see people succeed in mentoring.
That said, we occasionally receive resistance from organizations when it comes to training. Here are five reasons why mentee and mentor training is critical.
- No one is born knowing how to be a successful mentee or mentor, even though certain aspects of mentoring might come naturally to some people. Training helps mentors understand their roles, which involves supporting, encouraging, and listening to mentees. Mentors also learn they shouldn't be doing the "heavy lifting," even though they might be tempted to do so. The latter is an important reminder for mentors, since they are usually people who are all about getting stuff done. On the flip side, mentees learn what to expect from the mentoring relationship, including the fact that it's up to them to drive the relationship forward. Again, this is an important reminder, since the mentee might not be used to taking the lead.
- Training provides focus to an otherwise abstract concept. Mentoring isn't something you touch and hold—it's something you experience. This can be a surprisingly challenging concept to grasp, which is why training can help provide context to the intangible.
- It levels the playing field. Some people will have more experience with mentoring (or the mentoring concept itself) than others. Training helps to level the playing field by providing everyone with access to the same info. Training can serve as a refresher for people who've been down the mentoring road before, and it can help enlighten people who are about to embark on the journey for the first time.
- Mentee and mentor training provide a perfect kick-off to the overall program. Usually after mentors and mentees complete training, they're excited and can't wait to get started. Training is a great way to give your program the momentum it needs to get off to a successful start.
- Training helps the program manager manage more effectively. Good mentee and mentor training will answer many basic questions—questions that your program manager would otherwise have to answer. This frees up your PM to focus on other areas, such as matching and checking in on pairs throughout the nine to 12 months. And, yes—we absolutely recommend that program managers go through training as well (we have certification course designed specifically for mentoring program managers).