Book Review, mentor, mentoring, Professional Development

#BookReview: Mentoring Programs That Work

One of my research projects I am currently working focuses on professional mentoring, specifically mentoring experiences for professional learning and development offered by professional organizations/associations. Over the past couple of years, I have been fortunate to speak with a number of higher education professionals who have been part of a formal mentoring program, either as a mentor or a learner (a.k. a. mentee, protege, or leader). It has been great to learn about their how mentoring has met their professional development needs, helped to meet career goals, and navigated both personal/professional situations faced in the workplace.  As I finish a few more interviews, I hope to wrap up data collection/analysis to share findings/implications of mentoring experiences later this year — I promise. Part of this research design includes understanding how professional learning organizations/associations structure and administer mentoring programs for its membership. In speaking with mentoring participants and coordinators from a variety of mentoring programs that serve higher education professionals (Thank you: NACADA ELP, ACPAgrow, OACUHO, and NASPA Candid Conversations 365), I hope to offer insights and practical implications based on these mentoring experiences.

In my literature review, I stumbled upon, Mentoring Programs That Work by Jenn Labin, which was recently published by the Association for Talent Development. Based on my own thread of scholarship, I wanted to review and learn what suggestions this author had to provide based on her experiences in mentoring programs in a variety of industries.Although each mentoring program will have its own objectives and unique needs for participants, one constant component across all programs is the need to form connections to support an effective mentoring relationship. Mentoring relationships will be the cornerstone for skill development, personalized learning, and knowledge acquisition within any professional domain. Unlike typical educational training programs or professional development/learning, mentoring programs are more uniquely tailored for talent development needs. That being said, I am not sure we put the time or effort into preparing mentors and learners who enter this type of learning and development program.  I agree with Labin’s sentiments: “Mentoring programs are important.” Mentoring is an individual, learner-driven experience where proteges work with mentors to create a learner-focused solution. Mentors can support learners to acquire a specific knowledge domain, scaffold professional work situations, and develop tacit skills required to advance in their career field. Labin (2017) believes most mentoring programs fail if their goals are not aligned to talent/professional needs, inability to scale and sustain initiatives, and/or as a result of little stakeholders involvement or championship. I am sharing this brief overview of this book, as I think it has practical solutions for managers or program coordinators who want to develop (or improve) a successful mentoring program, while also supporting the mentoring experience and empowering mentors with tools they will need for this type of professional learning.

This book presents practical ideas and examples to outline the AXLES Framework for developing mentoring programs. The AXLES approach is similar to the ADDIE model for designing learning solutions, which will be familiar to my instructional designers or training industry colleagues. Labin introduces the components of AXLES in the introduction chapter of her book (2017, p. xv-xvi):

  • A = Align to Purpose: define the intention/goals of the program; identify critical questions for program success, and establish strategic partners within the organization to support the mentoring program
  • X = Design the Experience: identify the mentoring program structure, schedule, participant matching, and expectations; what are the deliverables, outcomes, and lifecycle of the program you want to design?
  • L = Launch Your Program: this is the implementation of the mentoring program (initially or annually); Will you have an orientation meeting, agenda, or focused platform/communication method to get the program going?
  • E = Evaluate Effectiveness: What will be the types of measures or metrics for the mentoring program?; identify program success from both narratives of participants and potential data collection with milestones and participant input
  • S = Support Participants: design and develop resources, webinars, videos, or other performance support aids to scaffold mentor-learner interactions; these could be a participant playbook, monthly meeting agendas, or even conversation guides/resources for discussions to encourage connections for these mentoring relationships

Mentoring is defined in a number of different ways, and the approach for a mentoring experience will be individual and unique depending on your organization/institutions needs. Chapter 2 helps to identify both the direction and talent development gaps you would like to address within your own mentoring program. This foundational chapter requires readers to identify the purpose, success measures, and the focus of the program by examining both the learners’ (protege) benefits and mentors’ benefits for involvement. A mentoring program could be developed to meet technical needs or to transfer institutional knowledge, or it might be created for talent development/growth of professionals within your organization. Identifying the objectives, purpose statement, and the “role of mentoring” will be a critical phase for those constructing this type of training design.

Chapter 3 offers suggestions for mentoring program designs. For the practical organization of a mentoring program, you are encouraged to outline questions for planning the program structure, identify the program schedule, consider how to conduct participant matching, and describe how learners and mentors will participate in the program. The considerations for “cultural alignment” were addressed early in this chapter, as this type of professional development might be executed differently based on the organizations need and its learning culture. A mentoring program structure type could include traditional or 1:1 mentoring, reverse mentoring, mentor-led (group mentoring), peer-led (mentoring circles), or a hybrid of any of these formats.  Additionally, this section of the books helps readers to consider the schedule length, entry, and programmatic features, such as the matching process for mentoring and potential technology solutions for support. The last stages of design decisions required for planning mentoring programs involve the learner and mentor engagement, specifically participants entry and exit into the program and outlining operating directions, guidelines, and expectations to create successful mentoring experiences.

Chapter 4 and 5 offer insights and practical suggestions for launching and evaluating a mentoring program, respectively. I appreciated the potential suggestions for professional learning opportunities, such as communication preferences, setting goals and development plans, skill-building workshops, and other resources that could be curated for a mentoring program (e.g. icebreakers, readings, teambuilding activities, conversation topics, etc.). For evaluation purposes, Labin (2017) mapped the Kirkpatrick Four Levels of Evaluation for review of a sample mentoring program and offered strategies for how qualitative and quantitative data might offer measurement insights during a program review. Potential metrics for success could be conducted by observation of performance improvement/changes, case-based examination of the mentoring relationship, individual development plans/goals met, reflections or narratives shared in milestone reports, and engagement of mentors and leaders within the organization.

Regardless of the industry or occupation, I think mentoring program administrators/coordinators will find Labin’s book both informative and practical for designing a comprehensive mentoring program that supports productive mentoring experiences. There are a number of suggestions for defining effective mentoring behaviors, onboarding participants, engaging in regular skill building and/or learning activities, and considerations for how to engage participants throughout a mentoring program experience. Administrators of mentoring programs will gain a number of valuable ideas for communication planning, participant recruitment, mentor-learner pair matching, supporting mentors in their role, potential ways to report and offer metrics for program measurement, learning material development/maintenance, dealing with issues, and supporting participants throughout the mentoring program cycle. I appreciate how each chapter offers applied examples of mentoring perspectives from learners or various industry leaders, and the end of each chapter offers key insights, exercises, and questions for individual reflection and potential team discussions. Additionally, there are a number of support resources and example materials in the appendices of this book to help guide mentoring program development.

Reference:

Labin, J. (2017). Mentoring programs that work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Talent Development Press.

*Full disclosure: The book, Mentoring Programs That Work, was sent to me by @ATD Press to read and review. As this is a valuable contribution for mentoring program development to support professional learning and development, I am more than pleased to offer this review on my blog. Thank you!” 

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mentor, mentoring, Research

Research Study: Exploring Mentoring Experiences

Mentoring is often a relationship between a less experienced individual, called a mentee or protégé, and a more experienced individual known as a mentor. Traditionally, mentoring is viewed as a face-to-face, long-term relationship and interactions between a supervisory adult and a novice student that fosters the mentee’s professional, academic, or personal development (Donaldson, Ensher, & Grant-Vallone, 2000). The typical examples of mentoring focus on a senior and junior configuration; however there are growing experiences and models that vary in mentoring experiences. Different structures of mentoring (e.g. formal, peer, group, network, and informal mentoring) support career goals, while other mentoring opportunities help contribute to a particular field or discipline.

mentoring

About the Research Study

A number of our professional organizations offer mentoring opportunities and structured mentoring programs as a form of learning and development. For this research study, our team would like to learn more about MENTORING EXPERIENCES; specifically, how these experiences impact the participants (i.e. mentors,protégé, and program coordinators) with regards to their personal and professional development. We are in the early days of learning the how mentoring has impacted individueals and what mentoring means for professionals.

mentor_words

We seek to explore mentoring through the shared narrative of mentoring experiences to answer the following research questions:

  • What influence does mentoring have on personal, professional, academic, and career development?
  • How does mentoring impact contributions to a professional association and/or learning organizations?
  • How does mentoring contribute to a professional field or industry?

Support our Mentoring Research!

Phase 1: Survey http://bit.ly/ExploringMentoring

This survey asks both open- and close-ended questions, and it will take 15-20 minutes to complete. Respondents will be asked about personal perspectives on mentoring based on their own experiences and demographic information:

If you have had more than one formal mentoring role and/or formal mentoring experience – please feel free to submit another survey response. This survey will remain open for several weeks if you decide to complete this survey or if you wish to pass this along to other colleagues who can share their mentoring experience.

Phase 2: Research Interviews

 http://bit.ly/MentoringInterviews 

We want to learn more about mentoring programs and its impact on personal and professional development, to its influence on the field/discipline, and to understand how mentoring supports professional associations who create these programs.The interview is expected to take 45-60 minutes and no sensitive questions will be asked during it. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary and optional.If you are willing to talk with a researcher via phone or Skype about your experiences, please click on this link to complete the informed consent formhttp://bit.ly/MentoringInterviews

Thanks to the members of the Exploring Mentoring Research Team who are supporting to this study:

  • Mariya Gavrilova Aguilar, University of North Texas
  • Laura Lambeth, Oregon State University
  • Sara Ackerson, Washington State University Vancouver
  • Ed Cabellon, Bridgewater State University

With thanks for support and development also from:

  • Craig McGill, Florida International University
  • Erin Justyna, Texas Tech University
  • Brandan Lowden, Pikes Peak Community College

For further questions or inquiries about this study, please contact Dr. Laura Pasquini (Laura.Pasquini@unt.edu), as we would be more than happy to follow up with questions, additional support, recruitment, and/or collaboration.

Reference:

Donaldson, S. I., Ensher, E. A., & Grant-Vallone, E. J. (2000). Longitudinal examination of mentoring relationships on organizational commitment and citizenship behavior. Journal of Career Development, 26, 233-249.

mentor, mentoring

Thank Your Mentor Day!

Happy THANK YOUR MENTOR Day! January, with January 17, 2016 being International Mentoring Day, was proclaimed National Mentoring Month by President Obama. This mentoring campaign is targeted at supporting youth and mentoring IRL (#MentoringIRL).

miyagi_mentor

Although my youth is behind me, I can definitely say a number of people helped to get me where I am today. A mentor can listen, teach, guide, and coach. Can you think about the mentor(s) in your life? Where would you be today had it not been for their support?

Here are a few simple ways the National Mentor Campaign suggests to THANK your mentor:

  1. Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation;
  2. Express your gratitude on social media; (#MentorIRL)
  3. Pass on what you received by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  4. Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program in your mentor’s honor; and,
  5. Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the Who Mentored You? website.

You can download a Thank you card from the Campaign Marketing Materials page.

As a thank you to all the mentors who have supported me and the mentees I have learned from, it would be only fitting to introduce this research study on this topic; however now I am interested learning how mentoring supports professionals and the field they work in:

Exploring Mentoring Programs in Professional Learning Organizations

Have you been part of a mentoring experience? Tell us about it. I am grateful for the informal and formal mentoring experiences, and I would not be interested in this study if it weren’t for the formal mentoring programs I have been a part of (shout out to ACPAgrow & NACADA ELP).  If you have any formal or informal mentoring experiences, please take a few minutes to share by filling out this survey:

http://bit.ly/ExploringMentoring

More about the research study: https://techknowtools.wordpress.com/mentoring/