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Reviewing the mentoring process

December 4, 2020

The process of reviewing something exists within different mediums and through various portals of communication, but the purpose is always the same; so that what is being reviewed can be improved upon or maintained at a high performing standard. Without reviews, businesses, product sellers and manufacturers and even company employees wouldn’t be able to measure themselves or their product against expectations and would in the long run, cause losses in time, profitability and efficiency. 

We review items online to let sellers know how their product is working and we review vacations so that others have a real-world insight before they book their own, so it makes sense to review people and processes within the workplace with the same thing in mind. What is done with the information after a review is up to each business and company, but the actual review process is important for transparency.

Thinking about the mentoring process, reviews should be part of the package, but getting the most out of it means knowing when to review, how to review and who to review. It also requires a fair amount of introspective evaluation from company executives, program coordinators and individuals themselves. 

The idea of mentoring has been around for centuries; it can be seen in writings of Greek Mythology and Biblical teachings. But in the modern world, with a goal of future-proofing and safe-guarding companies, the mentoring process has to take on a lot more of a formal stance to ensure the path to this goal is continuously in motion as the company persists to thrive and have success. So, reviewing the process has three parts – reviewing the company (the mentoring process itself), reviewing the mentor relationship (from the mentee’s point of view) and reviewing the relationship (from the company and the mentor).

It would not be an accurate representation of a working process if reviews were only carried out on one or two parties as creating the entire picture can benefit each party over the course of the program. 

Reviewing the Company and Process

It has been a widely recognized problem around the globe that employers aren’t paying enough attention to their employees in terms of what motivates them, what keeps them engaged and what would inspire them to seek out a long-lasting career within their organization. Surveys draw statistics each year, asking the American workforce just what makes them tick and what discourages them from wanting to remain with their company. 

A lack of motivation, stagnated job quality and minimal progression tend to be highest on the list of things that make employees start to consider working elsewhere. These surveys act as a review for the company to give them the insight as to why employee turnover is particularly high or why job productivity is low amongst staff, creating a good basis for future improvements. So, when businesses think of a mentoring program as being a major step toward career progression and job satisfaction, the review process tends to slow down, perhaps in the thinking that they have done their part for the employee already. 

For a mentoring program to work, it needs anecdotal evidence that it is working as well as statistical evidence. The figures may show a successful program, with quotas being fulfilled and timescales being adhered to, but the people that will be able to review the experience honestly are the people involved – the mentor and the mentee. This supporting data can be tracked through survey portals but also simply good old-fashioned conversation. Company focus groups or one to one reviews are an easy way to find out the information needed, and quickly. It should go hand in hand that positive reviews of the program will also result in positive outcomes, so it is a great measurement of success. 

Analytical information however needs formality, if it is to be measured over a long period of time and covering numerous mentoring relationships. This is where mentoring software can provide data for review and evaluation that can be referred to daily, monthly or even yearly. By removing the need for heavy administration and paperwork, a mentoring software program gives up to date information on how each pairing is working and how the program overall is working, making way for obvious or even the less clear opportunities for improvement. 

Of course, improvement isn’t the only reason for reviewing the mentoring process or program within an organization. Goals tend to change over time, not just in individual employees, but in companies where there are plans for expansion or a change in direction. Clearly, this doesn’t happen too often for a brand to maintain its integrity, but when it does it can have an overall effect on what it wants from its employees and future leaders. Reviews are equally important to make sure that the mentoring program in place is synced up with company goals and that it is still a necessary method of career progression and not just in place for the sake of having a program to make the company look like they are taking positive steps in employee careers.

Technologically, where communication software advances, this also would need to be reviewed by program coordinators in order to keep up with growing trends and to ensure mentors and mentees aren’t using outdated technology or being inconvenienced by slower communications. 

Reviewing the Pairing – From the Mentor’s Perspective

When it comes to reviewing the pairing in a mentoring program, it all stems from the initial match. Where organizations encourage and support a mentoring program and have adopted mentoring software, there are a few ways in which mentors can be matched with the right mentee. First, the algorithms and data can match the pairing based on location, goals, interests and experience. Second, mentees can self-match where they have the opportunity to look at different people or profiles that they know will work well for them. Third, they could be chosen as a pairing by someone senior who has seen that their goals and experience levels could create a good mentor match. 

It is said that the more involvement the mentee has in the mentor selection, the more successful the match tends to be. This is why when it comes to mentoring software, profiles need to be noticeably clear and up to date in order to be matched well, even if automatically. When thinking about reviewing the pairing from the mentor’s point of view, this compatibility will account for a large amount of the success, so transparency from both parties is needed to gage why it is or isn’t working, and if not, why not?

In an ideal world, all mentoring matches would work well and there wouldn’t be any need for awkward conversations over ending the pairing, but unfortunately not all software matches result in success. Being able to confidently review why a particular pairing may not be benefiting themselves, is something a strong mentor should be able to do, even if it isn’t easy.

Typically, the key aspects to review would be over the mentee’s participation – Have they been specific with their needs and aspirations? Are they being open with their vulnerabilities and problematic areas that may have halted their progression? Are they asking the right questions? Are they dedicating time to the mentorship? Am I learning or gaining anything from this experience?

When the answer to most of those questions is “No” it makes a good basis for why the pairing is perhaps not working. But, the point of reviewing is to improve something, so it shouldn’t come down to a quick evaluation without expressing these concerns and giving the mentee a chance to address them. Following meetings that take place offer an opportunity to measure progress on individual issues, and where there is definite improvement, there is room for a great mentor/mentee relationship to grow. But it is equally important to ensure that if ties are severed that they are done so with extreme professionalism and helpful feedback.

Reviewing the Pairing – From the Mentee’s Perspective

Digital records of a mentoring partnership are the easiest way to keep up to date with how the program is working. When time is valuable, keeping everything logged either before or at the time of occurrence removes the need to chase up people and wait for them to respond to a particular question. Mentoring software offers this convenience from logging scheduled meetings to progress reports and analytics. But it does remove the human element of feedback which is usually most useful in finding out what is not working in real time. 

As with evaluating the pairing from the mentor’s perspective, the same principles apply to a mentee assessing the process. The initial matching or compatibility is imperative to giving the program the best shot at working and so that both parties can gain from the entire experience. But in addition to this, the mentee would need to give an honest review of how they have progressed during the mentorship. Defining goals at the beginning provides a simple way to measure the success by asking themselves if they have started to achieve their goals, if they have built confidence in areas of less strength and if they are enjoying the experience. But in terms of whether their mentor is compatible, they will need to think about if they still feel valued in this program, if they are being given the same amount of time and energy as they are putting in and if they feel empowered by their mentor. 

Although there are formal evaluating methods each company tends to use for feedback from their cohorts, this usually comes after the mentorship has been long established or has finished. So, mentees that are unhappy or uncomfortable in their particular pairing need to perform their own review first through introspection before taking steps to end the match. 

Ending the Connection/Changing Mentors

Chemistry isn’t always there, and it can’t be forced, and although many successful mentor pairings throughout history have been forged without friendships, it isn’t always as easy to bypass this step when it comes to a time-measured program within the workplace. But it isn’t always about chemistry, failings in a mentoring program can be due to time constraints, breakdowns in communication or a distinct lack of energy input into the relationship. 

If after reviewing the issues a solution can’t be reached, it may be the best option to cut ties and seek out another mentor based on the reflections of the previous one. Where this can be an intimidating approach, inciting feelings of guilt or letting people down, it should also be an empowering one, and always circles back to the initial agreement from both parties where the investment in time and effort was made. If this is no longer the case, ending the mentorship is the only way to ensure no further time is wasted and that opportunities to match with somebody more compatible are still available. 

Reviewing for Future Mentees

Although there are a large number of steps that are typically taken in a mentor relationship before either party knows if it is working, the signs are usually quite obvious from the outset and should be watched closely and reviewed often to get the best out of the program. Taking control of the situation regardless of the outcome as far as the pairing is concerned is part of the experience in having a mentor, and can be viewed highly amongst senior managers who are looking for this kind of confidence and direct attitude toward their career progression. Introspective reviewing is incredibly useful in this case. 

But reviewing to improve the process is of course the other main outcome, and by working through the problems, documenting progress and reviewing the results, it paves the way for future mentees who are looking for their peers to provide an honest insight into the program. Company leaders and program coordinators have more to gain with feedback – even if negative – than they do to lose without it. Mentoring programs will only continue to grow and evolve with the help that feedback provides. 

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