The Right Mentor for the Job

Mentor selection is one of the most critical processes to get right in your mentoring programme. And yet often this decision is made quite arbitrarily, such as “Let’s find 10 of our most experienced employees, train them up as mentors and our problem will be solved”. There are risks in taking this approach, such as the assumption that experienced staff members have the skills, interpersonal qualities and genuine desire to help another person in their professional and/or personal development. Establishing criteria for selecting your mentors is an essential process to ensure you get the right people for this very influential role.

Selection Criteria

However, it’s not just about deciding on the criteria for selecting your mentors. Before embarking on the process of identifying the qualities and skills you require of your mentors, there are some prerequisites. For example:

  1. Has there been critical consideration and clarification of why mentoring will be provided in your organisation?
  2. Who are the mentees?
  3. How is the mentoring programme being resourced?
  4. What time allocation is given for the mentors and mentees to meet and develop a mentoring relationship?
  5. What are the intended and desired outcomes of mentoring, and what is the expected return-on-investment (ROI)?

Once you have strategies and processes in place that address these questions, i.e, you have determined the programme structure, then you can focus on developing a process for mentor selection. So where do you start?

1st     Decide what you expect your mentors to be able to do. For example, support another colleague (the mentee) in their professional and personal development, build a trusting relationship with the mentee, act as a resource person, be willing to share their experience and expertise, assist in the mentee’s career development. This helps you to then…..

2nd   Determine the core attributes you are looking for in your mentors. By attributes I mean professional skills and knowledge, and interpersonal qualities, and…..

3rd   Use other organisational processes to establish selection criteria, such as the person’s level of engagement in strategic initiatives, feedback they have received from peers and managers, evidence of their work performance, their promotion progression and advancement.

What are some mechanisms in your organisation that you can use as criteria for identifying and selecting the right mentors for your mentoring programme? Read my article ‘The Mentor Attributes Profile‘ to get some ideas about how to determine the core attributes of your mentors.