the mentoring participants. Community exists when people
come together to share a common purpose or interest, supporting and collaborating with one another to achieve something meaningful. Openly sharing insights and understandings can create a more connected and responsive organisation, and can help establish trust among mentoring participants. Building trust and community in this manner can help knowledge flow unimpeded throughout the organisation and make for a richer mentoring experience for all involved.
Essential element 3: Maintaining momentum
One of the hardest parts of a mentoring relationship is maintaining momentum. People are often surprised by how their mentoring relationships start off with high energy, desire and drive, but then flounder as other areas of their lives take priority (or at least become the squeaky wheel that grabs their attention). Building and maintaining momen- tum in a mentoring relationship is all about being purposeful with the time spent in and out of the relationship. Participants may feel like their inter- actions with one another ebb and flow. To address this, mentees and mentors can try meeting every week for 30 min- utes rather than the typical suggestion of once a month for an hour. Tese shorter touchpoints allow mentees and mentors to focus on smaller, incremen- tal steps being taken each week that can lead mentees to their goals and keep the relationship moving along. Each 30-minute meeting can be spent reviewing what actions were taken since the previous week, assessing if progress was made, and generating ideas for how to take the next step toward reaching their goals. Each meeting should end with a concrete action that the participants will take. Tis type of purposeful and goal-driven conversation will make these weekly mentoring meetings more productive.
Another area that administrators should address with their mentoring participants is accountability. Building and maintaining momentum in a relationship is not the sole responsibility
of the mentor; the mentee is an equal partner in this. Accountability in a mentoring relationship directly affects the amount of learning that can take place within the relationship, and consequently impacts the momentum the relationship can attain. Without high accountability,
mentoring relationships can lose focus and drift away from their developmental mooring. Subsequently, without a strong developmental focus, mentorship soon loses its effect and dialogue becomes more social than transformational. To be accountable means to be
responsible to someone for some activity – to be answerable. In the context of a mentoring relationship, this refers to mutually held expectations and agreed upon mentoring activities, including activities to monitor and evaluate progress toward stated developmental goals. In a sense, accountability is the learning tool that can be used in every mentoring conversation to ensure that mentees and mentors are progressing in their development (which they can tie to their REAL goals), and that devel- opment is thoughtful and meaningful. Five accountability principles serve as a guide for mentoring behaviour,
partner. Te old axiom “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” comes into play here. Excuses do not change the facts, and accountability rests on facts. All that is needed is: “Yes, I was able to get it done” or “No, I did not get it done.”
Hold others responsible. Help mentees and mentors gain confidence to expect others to do what they say they will. For example, if someone needs to be accountable for an action that impacts you, help them (and yourself) by establishing a measure of accountability. Don’t expect or allow excuses from others who have made commitments to you.
Get and give support. Accountability needs nurturing and support. It should not feel like a pass/fail test of one’s resolve, but rather like an attempt to accomplish the extraor- dinary. Tis means that attempts to accomplish something have value in that they tell us what can be done, and what can be improved upon on the next attempt. Encourage your mentoring participants to withhold judgments and treat these mentoring conversations differently than they would a performance-based conversation with a manager or subordinate.
Engage in courageous conversations. It takes courage to admit that you at- tempted to meet a commitment but fell short. Likewise it takes pluck to ask for a progress report from some- one who has made a commitment to you. Encourage your mentoring participants to take this courageous stance in their relationships to help nurture their partnerships.
and can encourage the development of accountability that is effective for personal transformation. Adminis- trators can use these principles with mentoring participants to help them
get the most from their relationships. ``
Project an attitude of action. Encourage mentoring participants to develop a positive, take-charge attitude. Tey need to be willing to take risks in their mentoring relationship, and should stretch and take actions they normally would hold back on.
Eliminate excuses. Urge mentoring participants to be ruthlessly honest in communicating their intent, actions and results with their mentoring
At their core, mentoring relationships are about people. As such, mentoring administrators are part coach, part facilitator, part support network, and part matchmaker. Training and learning leaders must consider these various aspects and participate in the mentoring programme in multiple ways in order to make the programmes work. Transformational mentoring can occur; we just have to want it badly enough to make it happen.
Randy Emelo is chief strategist at River. He can be contacted via www.riversoftware.com
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