Mentorship Training Program: The 6 Skills Your Mentors Need to Learn That Strengthen Your Program’s Value

Posted by jmeyer on November 21, 2022

There are many crucial elements to learning mentoring. Find out the elements that your mentorship training needs to cover to enhance your organization. Connecting with a mentee requires a certain skillset. Discover the top mentoring skills that you can use in training new mentors.

A study conducted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America found that youth with a mentor were almost 50% less likely to start using illegal drugs. These findings and others suggest that mentors provide a tremendously positive effect on children and adolescents. However, there are skills mentors must learn and master in order to positively influence children in a meaningful way. A mentorship training program is essential to the success of any mentoring program, but especially when mentors are dealing with vulnerable youth.

What Topics Mentor Training Should Cover

A comprehensive mentorship training program should prepare volunteers not only with basic definitions and principles but also examples of real-world experiences. Teaching the entire set of core topics about mentoring to volunteers — from initiating the relationship to match closure — will help mentors to support skills development in youth. Through the mentoring relationship, youth can learn to develop trusting relationships with others, grow their skills and interests, and reach the goals they have set for themselves.

There are more than two dozen recommended topics a mentorship training program should cover, according to our partners at MENTOR. From the basics, like defining mentoring, to program rules, such as the amount of money and time spent on mentees during a match, to more advanced topics, such as tips on how to mentor youth from special at-risk populations, mentorship training programs need to be thoughtfully and carefully developed and implemented with all volunteers. Training to extensively cover all these mentoring skills can take several hours, and the completion of the training program can be viewed as another vetting measure to assess if volunteers are ready for taking on such a commitment. While there is much to teach emerging mentors, many key mentoring skills can be categorized into six different skill sets that all intertwine, are teachable, and are fundamental to success.

Top Skills Mentors Must Learn

  1. Building Trust: All healthy relationships are built around trust. Trust in a mentor/mentee relationship provides the most basic foundation for having a safe and healthy impact. It’s one of the three pillars of mentoring that we call the “3 Bs of Mentoring,” including Be Trustworthy, Be Empathic, and Be Authentic. Mentors must learn how to be dependable and trustworthy in the context of a mentoring relationship, alongside being collaborative, having fun, and sharing decisions. Without trust, mentees will not feel comfortable to open up and share their thoughts and feelings with an adult. In fact, trust is at the core of each of the following skills mentors should demonstrate.
  2. Goal Setting: A match is usually made in order to reach goals — some are specified by the mentoring program and some by the mentee. Setting and achieving goals should be done collaboratively by mentors and mentees together, but mentors must acquire the skills and knowledge to support mentees in this process of achieving their goals. Planning relevant activities with effective approaches and setting goals with mentees are mentoring skills that can be easily taught.
  3. Ethical Standards: Like many professions and roles, mentors must adhere to ethical codes, guidelines, and standards. Mentors can influence young adults and children in a variety of ways; therefore, it is imperative that there are ethical standards and boundaries. These help protect mentees, mentors, and programs alike; and allow for an appropriate impact. All mentorship training programs must include the code of ethics for mentors.
  4. Boundaries and Roles: Roles and boundaries are important not only for mentee/mentor relationships but also for understanding mentors’ roles with the parents of their mentees. With knowledge of appropriate boundaries and roles mentors play, volunteers and family members can feel more comfortable with the match. While mentors have a few roles they play in a youth’s life, they should not play all roles. This suggestion comes with the idea of setting appropriate boundaries and respect for those boundaries within the relationship.
  5. Empathic Listening: In order to build trust, set and achieve goals, and set boundaries and roles, mentors fundamentally need to be able to listen empathically. This skill involves more than just hearing a mentee’s requests or desires but also understanding what is behind their motivations. Asking clarifying questions, demonstrating that the mentor hears and understands the mentee’s thoughts and feelings, and not lecturing or talking excessively. Listening and understanding an adolescent helps build a trusting, healthy relationship.
  6. Closure Skills: Mentors have a unique influence on youth and adolescents that comes with a heavy amount of responsibility. Ending the mentoring relationship correctly when it is time, or the program demands it, is one of the most crucial mentoring skills. Some youth in mentoring programs may be more vulnerable and sensitive to relationships closing, and more harm than good can be done. The closure or redefining of a match relationship requires considerable planning and communication. When done correctly, this can be an important representation for future relationships ending in healthy

Teaching Crucial Skills

While these skills are complex, they are teachable for volunteers who want to learn. At least two hours of training are recommended to develop essential mentoring skills. However, at least six hours of training are even better. There are several mentorship training programs, but very few that are research-driven and based around important scientific findings regarding mentoring. Online and a hybrid of online and in-person models are able to teach mentors at their own pace. A training program based around proven best practices will cover these six skills mentors must know to strengthen your program.

Mentoring Central Prepares Mentors

Mentoring Central helped write “the” book on mentoring. Our online mentorship training programs are scientifically designed, field-tested, and research-based. With a variety of learning modules, mentors are presented with real-world scenarios, engaging videos, and a self-reflective journal to encourage comprehension and action. These six core skills, along with other essential qualities mentors should have, are covered extensively in our many courses.

The robust online courses and administration system help organizations stay on top of their mentor training. Programs can easily enroll mentors into the system and track their progress. Data and reports, along with completion rates, are all found in one easy-to-use system.

Strengthen your mentoring program today — buy online training to educate mentors on these six crucial skills and more.