Getting Buy-In From Mentors
Whenever I do a presentation on designing and implementing corporate mentoring programs, one of the most common questions I get is this: “How do you get buy-in from prospective mentors?” Part of the answer will depend on the type of program you’re implementing, but here's a general three-step approach to recruitment that works well:
1. Why me? Mentors need to know why you're inviting them to be part of the corporate mentoring program. Specifically, they need to know:
- How they can be useful or contribute to a mentoree’s development
- What will be expected of them
Remember, provide specifics. For example, if you say, “Bob, you have a good background in the areas mentorees are seeking,” it's not as personal as this: “Bob, your years of experience as a manager have given you valuable insights that mentorees who are seeking a management track would find very valuable.”
If you’re sending out a generic invite to participate, you can’t address this for each potential mentor, but you can say something like this: “You’re being asked to participate because you have valuable experience in leadership, communication skills, and networking--skills that many of the mentorees are seeking in career development.”
2. How much is involved? For most of us, when we get asked to do something, we immediately think, “What’s this going to involve in terms of my time or how will this impact or intrude on the rest of my life?” Mentors have the same concerns, and since there is so much misinformation about mentoring, they'll likely have an idea in mind of the time commitment--an idea that's likely inaccurate.
Addressing this issue head-on allows you to remove the objection at the earliest possible moment and give the mentor an opportunity to see that the commitment is clear and limited. One way of expressing this is to say, “We recognize you are busy, so the program is very precise about the limited commitment involved. You would be expected to meet with your mentoree no more than once every other week for one hour or so, and the relationship would last for no more than 9-12 months.”
3. Why should this be important to me? Mentors gain from mentoring, a fact that's not highlighted nearly enough. Mentors don’t usually consider what they'll get out of corporate mentoring because they've been led to believe that mentoring is about selflessly helping another person.
This is why it's important to point out the benefits to the mentors. Repeated studies on mentoring and our own experience at Management Mentors supportthe data that mentors gain just as much from mentoring as the mentorees do. How? Here are some examples:
- The mentor builds a relationship with a mentoree from another part of the company; the insights the mentor acquires from learning about this other part of the company could be helpful when dealing with other people in that area.
- The mentor gains a strong sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction in seeing how his or her assistance has helped the mentoree grow in significant ways.
- The mentor can apply the freshly honed mentoring skills to his or her own staff.
- The mentor will likely learn new skills and insights from the mentoree; this is especially true when pairs are from different disciplines or departments within the organization.
- The mentor gains an ally within the organization (this is a mutual benefit).
So the next time you're charged with recruiting mentors, remember to follow this three-step process. This approach will greatly enhance your efforts.
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