04: Building a program team

This module is closely linked to Module 2 – Choosing a mentoring approach, Module 3 – Finding resources and Module 5 – Planning the mentoring program. You may find you need to move between these modules multiple times to gather the information you need to make decisions.

After reading this section you should be able to:

● select your team members

● clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member

● create an agreement for how to work well together.

Key questions to ask yourself

  1. Do you have capacity within your existing team to run your mentoring program or do you need to bring on additional people to help?

  2. What roles and responsibilities can your partners take on?

4.1 Different roles for different mentoring approaches

Roles will be different depending on the context and type of mentoring program you choose.

To determine what roles you might need for your chosen mentoring approach, please go to your chosen approach in our roles filter tool. Here you’ll see the main tasks associated with each approach and our recommendation as to which roles you might create for those tasks.

Whether these roles are voluntary or paid, a stipend will depend on what resources you are able to secure. If you do choose to pay a stipend, please make sure that you know your legal status (i.e. what you are legally allowed to do in your country) and also that you follow labour laws in your country (minimum wage, working conditions etc). We recommend doing some research in order to cost resources appropriately in your situation.

4.2 Selecting team members: the mentoring coordinator

No matter what mentoring approach you choose, you will require a mentoring coordinator. The mentoring coordinator will be the main point of contact for mentees and mentors during your mentoring program and will be responsible for ensuring that they develop a good rapport during the mentoring program.

Not everyone is made to be a mentoring coordinator. It requires very good emotional intelligence (ability to ‘read’ people). Often a résumé doesn’t tell you whether someone has the right soft skills to be a mentoring coordinator, so we recommend asking questions in the application or interview process that require candidates to demonstrate their relevant skills and experience. See an example application form for mentoring coordinator that you could adapt for your own needs. This is also included as a key resource below, along with our interview guide and selection rubric to help you choose the right person for the role.

Some aspects of the mentoring coordinator role can be quite challenging, particularly managing expectations, group dynamics, and any conflicts that arise. This can be especially challenging for young and/or female mentoring coordinators. The assertive mindset required of the mentoring coordinator may be developed through additional training or coaching.

4.3 Selecting team members: other roles

If you have more tasks than you think one person can handle, you may consider asking existing team members to take them on, or recruiting new team members. Team members’ responsibilities may be different at different times (e.g. a logistics person will be most needed when organising workshops but probably not so needed in between).

See Jim’s story about what other roles their mentoring program needed in the Stories section of this module.

4.4 Selecting team members: roles for partners

Some mentoring approaches require partners to take on tasks. For example, an event-based mentoring program will require you to connect with an event organiser, who would be responsible for integrating mentoring questions into the event registration process.

As you go through Module 5 – Planning the mentoring program, identify areas where the expertise of partners will be helpful and build them into your offer to partners in Module 3 – Finding resources.

4.5 Learning how to work well as a team

Once you have your team, we strongly recommend spending a good amount of time together to:

  • get to know each other

  • discuss everyone’s roles and responsibilities over the course of the mentoring program

  • discuss hopes and fears for the mentoring program

  • discuss expectations of yourself and each other

  • design the mentoring program (more information on this in Module 5 – Planning the mentoring program).

  • agree on what you need from each other in order to work well together, in particular:

    • how you will communicate (method)

    • how often you will communicate (frequency)

    • how you will motivate each other

    • how you will provide positive and constructive feedback to each other

    • how you will address any problems or conflict that arise

It’s very important to spend time deciding what communication and project management tools to use, especially if you are a team that works together remotely. We have summarised a range of possible tools in Table 3 below. Each tool has strengths and weaknesses that determine how it is best used. While these tools will never replace the power of a face-to-face meeting, they can still be useful!

Table 3: Communications and project management tools

Tool

Uses

Strengths

Weaknesses

Facebook group

Sharing photos and updates, chatting

  • Easily accessible platform that most people use already

  • Good forum for stories and community chat.

  • Hard to post multiple things at once without them getting lost in the linear timeline

  • Not easily searchable

  • Some people prefer to keep their Facebook just for personal conversations

  • Not everyone has or wants to use Facebook

Google group

Anything you would use email for

Uses email, which everyone has

  • Can feel a bit like spam if not moderated properly

  • May go to some people’s junk mail

Slack

Sharing photos and updates, chatting

  • Enables very focused discussions with separate channels for different topics

  • All communication and information is in one place, rather than across several emails

  • Transparent – everyone is able to see what different groups are talking about (You can also make private chat channels if you want to keep certain conversations private)

  • All content is searchable from one search box

People need to become familiar with it

Zoom

Like Skype, but better

  • Reliable video quality

  • Integration with Google Calendar, which makes scheduling meetings easier

  • Just need to click the link and join the meeting. No downloads, even on mobile

May not be great for people on slow internet connections

Google Drive

Create and store all working documents – from meeting minutes, to proposals, to mentee and mentor applications

  • Great tool for remote teams to collaboratively edit documents together

  • Increases transparency – everyone can see what others are working on

  • Pretty straightforward to use (we think!)

  • Sometimes messes up document formatting

  • May not be great for people on slow internet connections

  • Requires access to Gmail

Asana

  • A project management tool that organises lists of tasks around which teams can collaborate.

  • For example, you can create various “sections” of a project and create a separate list of tasks for each section. Each task can then have sub-tasks of its own should you want to create a nesting of tasks.

  • Lots of project management features

  • Free trial

  • Important tasks can be colour coded

  • Multiple tags can be added to each item

  • Possible to view/follow personal tasks in one place

  • Free for small teams up to 15 people

  • Tasks can only be assigned to one member of a team

  • The interface can sometimes feel overwhelming

  • Can take a little longer to learn

Trello

  • A card-based task/project management tool that can be used for almost anything that requires limited team collaboration

  • Each task is written on a “sticky note” and “pinned” to a board

  • Incredibly flexible

Mostly simple layout, simple instructions

Very visual

Free

Not ideal for big projects with many tasks

Take action!

  • Draft terms of reference and call for applications for a mentoring coordinator.

  • Determine what other roles you need, what qualities or skills those people will need, and how you will find people to take on those roles.

  • Draft terms of reference for other roles and call for applications if needed.

  • When you have selected a team, schedule your first team meeting.

Resources

Stories

Jim, YPARD Philippines Country Representative, talking about his experience of determining what roles were needed for the YPARD Philippines mentoring program team, and how he met those needs through recruiting team members

Dorothy, Deputy Director of AWARD, talking about what she always tells new mentoring coordinators

Maggie, YPARD Philippines Mentoring Coordinator, reflecting on her ongoing experience as mentoring coordinator, and sharing advice for other prospective mentoring coordinators

Dorothy, Deputy Director of AWARD, discussing the challenges of being a young, female mentoring coordinator, and advice on how to overcome these challenges