Establishing a Mentorship Program. Part 2

posted December 14th, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

What Makes An Effective Mentorship Relationship?


“Everybody agrees that you have to have goals for the mentorship relationship so before the first time they meet their mentor, the mentee is asked to think about what they want to accomplish in the year and then when they meet with them they talk about the goals and at each subsequent meeting the mentor is supposed to check in on how the mentee is doing in attaining the goals. The nugget I got from the training is that   being a mentor in the type of program we developed is not about telling someone what they should do.  It’s about helping them realize the best thing for them given who they are and what their objectives are. During the training, there is great emphasis on not telling someone what to do – and how to ask probing questions or  “I had something like that happen to me but I could have done this or I could have done that”, or “have you thought about this or what about this.” It makes sense because we can’t know what’s right for another person, we don’t have their history or background or personality.  If you help people see their options or come to a conclusion about something on their own by asking the right questions, it’ll be a better fit with their personality, with their goals, and it’s more likely to be successful“ says Nancy.

 

“Since 2007, the first year of the Toronto CREW program 69 young women have gone through it including a woman who got a scholarship from Toronto CREW. Our goal is to encourage women so that they stay working in commercial real estate.  People have informal mentors.  I’ve had them.  I had a mentor for many years and looking back on it she was a great mentor because she really taught me a lot.  In her case, her role was that of a teacher from a practice skills point of view. Almost everybody can look back on their career and remember having somebody who was a mentor but the formal aspect of the Toronto CREW program makes it more of an open forum to talk about everything from career planning to managing your ability to stay on a career track if you have a family, and managing work/life balance –  all of which I’m not sure are conversations that easily occur in an informal mentorship program.”

 

I asked Nancy to tell me about the mentee’s objectives, to provide me with some examples that they start out with. She said: “We are very up front with mentees and tell them that the mentorship program is not a networking, job-finding opportunity.  It is not a can you help me with an introduction to so and so.  It might happen.  It might happen for other reasons but that’s not the objective.  Objectives vary.  I’ve heard of people trying to figure out whether they’re in the right career.  The mentee that I’m working with this year is struggling with that a little bit.   Some of their objectives are around dealing with people within their organizations who are difficult to deal with.  Sometimes, it’s dealing with men in their organizations and not being perceived as the little girl especially in organizations where there aren’t a lot of other women.  It’s tough in commercial real estate –  there are not a lot of women that are in more senior roles.”

 

I asked Nancy how she thought the Toronto CREW program differed from an in-house program where people are dealing with people they could be working with or for. She said: “I think that one of the challenges of having an in-house program is having frank open discussions – partly because there is a fear of retribution notwithstanding confidentiality, and also because one of the things that may need to happen is helping someone  to realize they’re not in the right place and that’s going to be more difficult in an in-house program. In house programs are really geared more to helping more junior employees figure out how to be successful within their company by getting a better understanding of the culture of the company, the politics, and where opportunities may exist.

 

Nancy continued: “ In the Toronto CREW program, we don’t necessarily match people in the same industry. All of the mentors work in some capacity in commercial real estate but for example, lawyers mentor women that are in brokerage, finance, design or appraisal and it doesn’t really matter because the mentors are not telling the mentees what to do – so an in depth knowledge of a particular industry is not necessary for a successful mentorship relationship.“

 

What Strikes Me?

 

Mentoring isn’t about telling somebody what they should do; it’s about helping them realize the best thing for them to do given who they are and what their objectives are

 

The mentee is the only one who knows what’s going to work for them

 

If you help people see their options or come to a conclusion about something on their own by asking the right questions, it’ll be a better fit with their personality, with their goals, and it’s more likely to be successful in the long run

 

Mentorship programs are not a job-finding opportunity

 

It doesn’t really matter, if mentors and mentees are in the same business because  mentors are not telling the mentees what to do

 

We’ve all dealt with the same issues, so the mentoring relationship does not have to be industry specific

 

What Strikes You?

 

Please add your comments.

 

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