Posted by eporter on May 22, 2023
With mentor management, programs can expect better results. However, it can be difficult for some programs to understand how to monitor and support mentors.
Mentor management is a key standard in the mentoring field and a vital part of managing successful mentoring programs that foster impactful relationships. But what does mentor management entail, and how can you improve your mentor management practices for positive outcomes?
Mentor management is an effective way to assess the quality of mentoring relationships and provide the necessary support to motivate mentors and help them provide fruitful experiences for mentees. To reap the benefits of mentor management, your approach should involve both monitoring and supporting volunteer mentors throughout the mentoring relationship.
Monitoring includes documenting the mentoring relationship milestones and assessing mentee safety. Programs should monitor their mentors through regularly scheduled meetings to learn how long and how often each match is meeting, assess mentee and relationship growth, and assess if matches are following ethics and safety guidelines.
Match monitoring can be defined as a form of “due diligence.” If your mentoring program requires matches to meet once a week or for four hours a month, then it is your program’s responsibility to monitor and track that these meetings are happening, so mentees and their parents who have enrolled in your program are receiving the frequency or duration of mentoring sessions “promised” to them. This activity is conjoined with an important practice that supports accountability, namely, standardized data collection on match meetings and data entry.
At a minimum, your staff should always know if a meeting occurred, who was present, what they did together, when they met, where they met, and how they felt about their meeting.
Once information about match meetings has been gathered from mentors, mentees, and parents/guardians, then it is time for staff to act. Support is the next step in the process of managing mentors, and it allows your staff to address any issues that arise during the mentoring relationship and help mentors feel motivated to contribute quality support to their mentee.
Providing mentor support involves advising, problem solving, training, and providing extra resources to mentors to help them navigate the relationship and any challenges that arise. Sometimes, support also takes the form of providing advice, problem solving, training, and access to extra resources to mentees and their parents as well, for the duration of each relationship.
This blog, the first in a two-part series, is dedicated to outlining the importance of monitoring mentors and ways to monitor matches effectively. Stay tuned for the second blog in this two-part series to learn how you can provide high quality support for matches in your program.
If mentoring program staff do not regularly contact and provide support for match members, relationships between all participants in the mentoring experience can be negatively impacted. Thus, programs should have three goals for monitoring mentors:
The safety of mentees is a priority for all mentoring programs, but you cannot assess if mentees are safe without monitoring the relationship. By checking in with matches to see what activities mentors are doing with their mentees and how they are communicating, you can better assess if they are following safe and ethical mentoring practices.
When meeting with matches and checking for safety concerns, assess how the mentee is feeling about the mentoring relationship and experience. Mentee discomfort or apprehensiveness may signal ethical or safety problems, and by exploring these concerns, program staff can further monitor, follow up, and potentially intervene if matches are not following ethics and safety guidelines or policies.
It is important to record the feedback you receive from mentors, preferably in a database or other organized system, when communicating or meeting with them. Having notes on the history of the mentoring relationship will prove helpful when you are preparing for future meetings with matches or need to assess the progress the match has made. You will also be able to provide this documentation to program staff who will be providing mentor support, so they can assess the needs of the match and provide the appropriate resources or advice.
By collecting data on all of the matches in your mentoring program, you can more accurately evaluate your program’s impact and areas for improvement, so you can make decisions and implement practices to further improve mentee outcomes.
Following your meetings with mentors, you should provide all of the data and feedback you have gathered to the staff providing support to mentors. Doing so will equip mentor support staff to meet with mentors and provide the appropriate resources or advice matches need to achieve their goals, address problems or concerns, and, ultimately, improve mentee outcomes.
Mentors may make you aware of roadblocks or problems that have arisen in the mentoring relationship during meetings. It is critical to make support staff aware of these challenges, so they can address the issues specifically in their meetings with mentors and help mentors resolve them by providing the appropriate advice or resources.
In order to monitor mentors, staff should contact mentors twice within the first month of the match, at a minimum, and then once a month thereafter for the duration of the relationship. If you want to be maximally helpful to mentors, you should regularly contact and gather information from everyone in the match. Monthly contact with mentees and their parents/guardians is a fundamental benchmark practice in the EEPM because input from mentees and parents/guardians can help paint a more accurate and complete picture of the match and alert you to any safety concerns.
Program staff can monitor mentors by communicating through texts, emails, or online forms with questions for the mentor. However, on occasion, staff should also have discussions with mentors through phone calls, video chats, or in-person meetings. This will allow staff to ask follow-up and clarifying questions, as well as attend to nonverbal cues that can supplement their understanding of what mentors are thinking and feeling. It is also helpful to ask open-ended and follow-up questions to lead a natural, flowing conversation, so mentors can feel heard and staff can learn as much information about the mentoring relationship as possible.
During monthly or bi-monthly check ins, your goal should be to receive a status update on the match’s progress and receive feedback from the mentor. It’s important to document these conversations, so staff can refer back to information about the match and follow the progress of the mentoring relationship. These conversations can be different every time, but asking about any safety concerns and match meetings can facilitate open conversations.
Because mentor management is the responsibility of program staff, it is critical to have an adequate number of personnel to provide appropriate support. Staff need to be available to monitor matches, so they can be aware of problems before they arise, assess how safe the situation is, and document information during the entirety of the match.
Mentoring Central can help your staff support mentors by providing training from the start of the mentoring relationship for all personnel in a mentoring program, including mentors, mentees, and parents/guardians. Our research-informed products will give staff and volunteers a better understanding of your program’s goals and policies. Mentoring Central’s team of mentoring experts can also help your program develop or evaluate policies and procedures to help you implement safety, strong relationships, and guidance on how best to support mentors, mentees, and mentees’ goals.
To learn more about the various trainings and resources available to you, browse the 2023 Mentoring Central catalog.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest research in mentoring, guidance on how to improve your mentoring program, and the second blog in this series!