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How to create an effective mentoring program, and how to get the most out of your mentoring relationships

Perhaps I’m biased because I believe so much in the value of mentoring services that we now offer them as part of the sphinxx program suite, but with so many articles and research fields claiming the lack of mentoring is holding women back it might be something worth looking at in your business. Having worked with so many highly successful women in the Ascend development days, everyone with any clout has a mentor (or several) to thank for having the guts and dedication to get to where the are.  So how do you create a successful mentoring program in your business?

This article outlines most of the ground rules for good mentoring – setting clear goals, having mutual expectations of time and duration of mentoring, deciding between formal and informal mentoring, getting a mentor you click with, and very importantly have a goal/purpose for meeting, so you can assess how well the relationship is working for you.

Other thoughts?

Pick the right mentor: what exactly do you want out of your mentoring relationship? Is a mentor within your current company to help your career progress within the firm what you’re after, or is it about industry understanding, reputation and connection, in which case an external mentor might be the way to go.

Stick with it: mentoring relationships take time to develop. You want a mentor who knows you well, your strengths and weaknesses, your career goals and your life situation. Trying to juggle a family and work is best advised to by someone who has dealt with similar challenges.

Choose formal or informal mentoring, and engage/assess on these grounds: a formal mentoring relationship will be for a set amount of time, and not necessarily with someone you chose, often formal mentoring happens in company ran programs or mentoring companies. Informal mentoring is usually with an existing connection, and not as prescribed, more of “lets grab a coffee and chat” then formal mentoring. I wrote a blog a while back comparing the two modes, for a surprising result. 

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