Choosing participants

How to choose appropriate mentors and mentees.

You've decided that you want to introduce an effective mentoring program to your company and you've got top management's buy-in for the process. But now you have to start detailing with the finer details, specifically who is going to be involved.

Why should you choose mentors and mentees and not just leave participation to a purely voluntary basis.

It's far better to invite participants to join rather than insist that they join. In all of our kick-off events, the mentees in particular are keen to know that their mentor has volunteered to take part and hasn't been made to participate by their boss!

You should also choose your invitees based on what your company wants to get out of the process. Is it in order to grow future leaders? Or to onboard new graduates? Or to break down company silos after a merger? Being clear about the aims of the mentoring program is your first step in getting clear about who should be involved.

Cross pollination or induction/embedding?

Most mentoring programs fall into two categories in terms of their aims. Either you are looking to improve ‘cross pollination' between people in different parts of the business, or you are looking to embed people in the company more effectively.

If you're looking to cross-pollinate, create exchanges across different business areas, promote creativity and break down company silos, you should think about having mentoring participants that contrast with one another. They could come from different business units, different functions, different nationalities or different business backgrounds (e.g. engineers and finance specialists).

If you're looking at embedding people into the company more effectively, you should think about matching your participants rather than contrasting them. Perhaps by having them come from the same functional area, business unit or background. That way, the mentee will develop a more in-depth understanding of his or her own area more quickly and the mentor will be able to look at his or her own experience with a fresh set of eyes.

Of course, you can have a mix of attributes - matching in some ways, different in other ways but you should always be clear about the aims of program and that will help you to prioritise how you choose participants.

Is there a right kind of personality to be a mentor or mentee?

You don't have to have a certain personality profile in order to be a mentor. It's even a good idea to include people with different kinds of personalities in your list of invitees to the program. After all, companies are filled with many different types of people and getting insights into how other people think who are quite different to you is a big benefit of mentoring.

However, there is one aspect that you should definitely consider including. That is having mentors and mentees with a growth mindset i.e. people who are curious about others and who believe that we can all grow and learn, as opposed to believing that our talents and abilities are fixed and there is little we can do to change that. This mindset is not a personality trait as such, but it's an important aspect of being a successful mentor or mentee.

Key Points:

Link your mentoring program with the strategic growth objectives for the company. What are your aims? Defining these will help you to understand your selection criteria for choosing appropriate mentors and mentees.

Remember that you are setting up the mentoring relationship for possible the long term. It's extremely useful to start out with mentors and mentees that have a growth mindset and who believe that we are always able to grow and learn from one another. 

Projektgruppe wissenschaftliche Beratung GbR
Dr. Andre Lehnhoff Managing
Wendy Kendall Partner of PwB
Ohlanden 35
25582 Hohenaspe
Tel.: +49.4893.220256
Fax: +49.4893.220256
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Projektgruppe wissenschaftliche Beratung GbR

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