Training mentors - notes from the field

I enjoy training people who have enrolled to be a mentor. I provide mentor training in several contexts, including with apprentices and in enterprise settings for external and internal programmes

I’ve delivered national mentor training programmes supported by Government and sector skills bodies over the past 10 years. I am a mentoring practitioner and a qualified training practitioner and I combine both of these aspects in my delivery to trainee mentors. .

Here are some tips from my decade of training mentors I’d like to share:

1. Have a plan for mentoring in the organisation first and know what you want from it. The best schemes are matched schemes so this is broader than a simple training process. Then you can align the mentor training accordingly.

2. Have mentees lined up asap. There’s nothing worse than training mentors and then there’s no one to mentor. Before they leave the training they always want to know ‘what next’ and ‘when can I start’.

3. As there is no universal, single definition of mentoring, don’t try and define it when training. Instead, use training to identify the boundaries and the skills and behaviours a good mentor needs.

4. Make sure, even if it is a light touch, that you cover legal and ethical issues. Can you introduce a mentoring code of conduct?

5. Learners always have scenarios they envisage that may become a barrier to successful mentoring, so make room for a ‘what if this happens’ slot.

6. Be a role model. Model mentoring approaches as the trainer rather than ‘tell learners what to do’. For example, if a trainee asks ‘what should I do if…?’, consider asking them what they think they should do. Most people do know, or have an idea, and are really just checking out their thinking or want validation.

7. Cover the core skills with activities that test them out, for example, active listening, speaking, offering feedback, asking rich questions.

8. Case study time works well. Group work that enables learners to think about and explore a relevant scenario and work through how they would mentor someone, what they would ask etc is beneficial.

9. Encourage learners to work out how they will mentor and what it means for them.

10. make sure new mentors have an action plan, have identified further development and have support going forwards (then let them go mentor).

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss mentoring.