Why You Need To Train People For Mentoring

The purpose of training is to enable mentors and mentorees to establish effective relationships. Some programs simply introduce people and leave them to “get on with it”. Occasionally, this works. But people need to know what is expected of them, how to go about it and why it is important and you need to be confident they have the skills for mentoring.

Why Train?

  • Building a relationship of rapport and trust can be tricky when there are many individual differences;
  • Managing people is different from mentoring people; and 
  • Motivation will be critical to success.

Mentoring is different from other workplace relationships. It is professional and personal, it deals with rational and emotional motivation and it non-directive but offers guidance and advice! The paradoxical nature of mentoring needs to be understood and the key skills developed.
In addition, participants usually need ongoing personal support and reassurance. Establishing an interactive network of participants will add value. This is most likely to happen when participants meet and work together in training sessions.

Training Mentors and Mentorees

The role of the mentor, communication styles, strategies and practical techniques for applying the mentoring process can be explored in workshops. It is usually beneficial to provide mentors with an initial session separately from the mentorees so that they are able to discuss any issues candidly.

Mentorees need to be primed to make the most of the mentoring experience. Their responsibilities, communication and goal setting are topics you want to cover in their training.

Bringing mentors and mentorees together for a workshop is highly desirable. This way you can enable them to identify expectations of each other in a non-threatening group process. You can also ensure that they have a common understanding of mentoring etiquette, procedures and reporting. Being part of a group reduces the feeling of isolation and you can set up a mechanism for ongoing group contact. Within this workshop mentoring pairs can have a structured first meeting to break the ice. Debriefing the meeting as a group, you can draw out do’s and don’ts for effective future meetings.

The Training Process

The process of the training is as important as the content and several issues are likely to impact on your mentoring program:

  • Current management styles;
  • Seniority of the mentors; and
  • Introducing the mentoring role to busy people may be challenging.

Consider a range of delivery methods for education and training. You want to educate not only prospective mentors and mentorees but managers and staff not directly involved (see our webinar How to Get The Mentoring Message Across). You can do this through personal communication, management briefings, staff information sessions, print, audio-visual or web-based push/pull resources. Push resources are those you email out and pull is material that is on the internet for them to access that you have to draw them to.

Effective mentoring results from a set of attitudes, behaviours, skills and motivation. Training, complemented by ongoing support and follow-up, significantly increases your return on investment. That’s how mentoring works.

Extract from; Rolfe, A. (2006) How To Design And Run Your Own Mentoring Program. Mentoring Works.

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About Ann Rolfe

Ann Rolfe is internationally recognised as Australia's leading specialist in mentoring, and is available for speaking, training and consulting. Here Ann shares her knowledge and allows you to ask your most pressing questions about mentoring.

2 Responses to “Why You Need To Train People For Mentoring”

  1. Anonymous February 17, 2010 8:14 am #


  2. Robert Keteyian February 4, 2010 1:01 am #

    So glad to read this. We need mentoring, with more experienced people recognizing the needs of younger people and being willing to give of themselves. The synergy in this process is truly transformative.

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