Get more introverts involved in mentoring
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The idea of joining a mentoring program or asking someone to be your mentor can seem daunting, especially for more introverted people. Yet, building up your mentoring network—and perhaps even having a mentor help you learn ways to be more successful as an introvert—can be invaluable and critical to your success at work and in your overarching career.
For the administrators running mentoring programs, you might also have seen the reluctance of introverts to join your programs and wondered what you could do to encourage these employees to participate. Here are three ideas for getting more introverts involved in mentoring.
Use administrator matching
Many organisations have turned to mentoring software to help them lighten the workload when it comes to such things as matching people up in relationships and tracking their progress.
Software can typically allow you to let people find their own matches via self-directed matching; it can also still allow administrators to do the matching, but in a more streamlined and less time-consuming fashion than using spreadsheets.
Having individualised attention, such as in a one-to-one mentoring relationship, can sometimes cause people more stress than if they can be slightly anonymous in a larger group.
This comes into play for drawing more introverts into your program because administrator matching can help alleviate the awkwardness people may feel about asking someone to be their mentor. By providing the option of having the program administrator make the match, the mentee and mentor are both able to put the final decision into someone else’s hands.
Offer training to ease fears
Providing training to your mentees and mentors is a best practice no matter if you are dealing with introverts, extroverts, or ambiverts. Training can cover any range of topics, from what mentoring is to how relationships can thrive.
Ultimately, you want to help your employees understand what you expect of them and help them realise what they are committing to by joining your mentoring program. This shared understanding can help alleviate fears of the unknown and make everyone more comfortable with the idea of mentoring between colleagues.
You can make the most of training by offering it to people before they begin their relationships.
This will allow everyone to hear what is expected of participants in general, what each role entails for mentees and mentors, how participants should treat one another, how they should resolve conflict, how they should give and receive feedback, and other topics that fit within your organisational culture. These rules of engagement help set expectations, which your participants will appreciate.
Consider mentoring groups
Having individualised attention, such as in a one-to-one mentoring relationship, can sometimes cause people more stress than if they can be slightly anonymous in a larger group. Mentoring groups (or mentoring circles as they are sometimes called) can be a great way to engage your introverts in mentoring.
Some people may not feel comfortable talking, but they will still learn a lot from listening to others. Having your introverts join mentoring groups can give them a way to ease into a mentoring relationship. They can learn from the group mentor and the other mentees, and still participate at their comfort level.
A word of caution: If you use group mentoring as a way to engage your introverts, be sure to also provide training about group mentoring and what is expected of participants. If it is your expectation that everyone will participate and engage with the group, be sure to make that clear so that no one is surprised by having to talk, share ideas, ask questions, and the like.
Mentoring can be a great equaliser in many ways. It should be accessible to everyone in your workforce, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, religious affiliation, or personality type.
About the author
Laura Francis is vice president of marketing for River, a mentoring software company based in Denver, Colorado.