The first mention of the word “mentor” is thought to go back to an ancient Greek story about a young child called Telemachus, who grew under the supervision of an old trusted friend of his father named Mentor. Since then, the name of this character has been used as a common term for “trusted tutor”.
Today, we use the word “mentor” for anyone who has a positive, guiding influence on another person’s life. “Mentoring” is the process of direct transfer of experience and knowledge from one person to another.
This toolkit is aimed at people who are considering setting up a mentoring program in or for their organisation, community, or wider sector. It will be most valuable to mentoring program managers and mentoring coordinators.
This toolkit should help you feel confident to:
● decide if mentoring is the right approach to achieve your organisation’s long-term objectives
● take all the steps needed to coordinate a mentoring program.
The toolkit is divided into 12 modules. Each module has a number of resources and tools associated with it, to help you extend and apply your learning.
Each main module is structured as follows:
● Learning objectives (“After reading this section you should...”)
● Key questions to ask yourself as you work through each module
● Guiding information to help you answer the questions in your own context
● Take action!, a list of concrete steps you can take to implement what you have just learned
● Resources (templates, examples and tools) to help you design and implement your program, and make decisions more quickly and effectively
● Stories from various different mentoring programs.
We recommend that you start a journal/workbook where you can record the decisions you are making, the information provided to you by the tools, your answers to key questions, and any other useful information.
While we have presented these modules as an ordered process to follow, in reality the process of coordinating a mentoring program is messy. Some programs will build a team before finding funding and others will need funding in order to build. Similarly, many organisations prefer to take a fully collaborative approach, so building a team is an important first step before making any decisions about the approach and design.
Hold the logic of the toolkit lightly and don’t be scared to come back and revisit your earlier decisions or to follow the modules in an order that best fits your situation.
Module 1: Getting started – mapping your context. This module will help you to understand why you’re choosing mentoring and what it will help achieve; to know whether mentoring is the right approach for you to take; to identify the opportunities and constraints for mentoring associated with your institutional environment; to think about which groups you will target and their motivations/needs/contributions; and to identify your mentoring program’s values and principles.
Module 2: Choosing a mentoring approach. This section will help you to understand all the different possible approaches to mentoring and to help you choose a mentoring approach that is best suited to your context.
Module 3: Finding resources. This section will help you determine what resources you need (both financial and in-kind); how to find those resources; and how to plan your mentoring program budget and negotiate with partners.
Module 4: Building a program team. This section will help you understand who is needed to get a mentoring program started; what role the mentoring coordinator plays (and how to find a suitable person to play that role); and how to work well together.
Module 5: Planning the mentoring program. This section introduces the process of identifying and planning the different elements and phases of a mentoring program.
Module 6: Monitoring and evaluating the mentoring program. This section covers how to determine your evaluation principles; different approaches/tools that you may choose; and how to use the information you gather to improve future programs. This section also covers how to support mentees and mentors to write blog posts about their experiences and learnings.
Modules 7, 8 and 9: Finding and matching mentees and mentors. These sections step you through the application and selection process for mentees (including sample application forms from many different programs); how to understand mentee needs; how to make mentoring inclusive for people in rural areas; how to create a pool of mentors (communicating the benefits of mentoring and expectations); and how to match mentees with mentors.
Module 10: Building the mentoring relationship. This section will help you understand how to get the mentee/mentor pair started – setting goals/visions as well as discussing roles and expectations. It also covers how you can foster peer mentoring in a group of mentees and mentors. There are different resources depending on the mentoring approach you’ve chosen in Module 2 – Choosing a mentoring approach.
Module 11: Maintaining the mentoring relationship. This section covers how you check in with mentoring pairs to determine what’s working well, what’s not, and what support they need at different stages. It also covers common challenges and how to overcome them, including how to manage conflict and re-match mentees with other mentors if needed.
Module 12: Ending the mentoring program. This section covers how to conclude the mentoring program – how to celebrate what was achieved, reflect on challenges, and draw lessons for the future. This section also covers the options mentees and mentors have to keep learning after the formal mentoring program ends.