Technology plays a huge role in every aspect of our lives these days. Much like our personal relationships, the decision to choose a specific technology when designing a mentoring program should be based on whether the technology will support or hinder the relationship. In this case, the mentoring relationship.
There are many different types of technologies businesses could employ when designing a mentoring program. The 4 most common technologies we see companies use are:
Video Conferencing: An online system for people to communicate using a technology such as video cameras connected to their PC's or laptops, or programs such as SKYPE, can be very useful for people who are in long distance relationships. People can see each other which enhances the relationship. This face to face interaction provides a much more meaningful relationship.
Online Mentoring System: An online mentoring system is valuable in terms of creating better mentoring matches (or mentoring pairs). Using an objective algorithm, an online mentoring system also allows program managers to monitor the relationships easily and with a minimum investment of time.
E-learning: Using E-learning in mentoring (also known as eMentoring) is valuable because it allows participants to understand what mentoring is all about without the huge investment of cost to the company. For example, let's say your organization has decided to start a mentoring program. Does it make the most sense for your mentoring participants (employees) to be in the same place at the same time for the mentoring training? For some organizations, this does make sense. But for others, rather than flying folks into one location at the same time, an E-learning system allows for the training of all participants without the added travel expense.
Email: As crucial as it now seems in our every day lives, if a mentoring pair tries to develop a mentoring relationship solely using email, it will surely fail. Although email is a great way to share agendas and ask questions, a mentoring relationship through email is the least effective use of technology in a mentoring program.
We would love to hear the different ways you have used technology in your mentoring relationship. Please feel free to share in the comments section below ways in which your mentoring relationship has thrived (or suffered!) because of technology.