Mentor Management: How to Support Your Mentors

Posted by eporter on June 23, 2023

Successful mentoring programs that foster impactful experiences for mentees should be supported and maintained with proven mentor management practices, which include providing mentor support as matches navigate their mentoring relationships.

Mentoring program staff member providing mentor support

Providing high-quality mentor support can help and encourage mentors to establish meaningful, long-lasting connections with their mentees to improve mentee outcomes and match satisfaction.

What Mentor Management Is

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 positive 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 mentors involves meeting with matches regularly to document the mentoring relationship milestones and assess mentee safety. Refer to our first blog in this two-part series to learn how to effectively monitor matches in your program.

Mentor support involves advising, problem solving, training, and providing extra resources to matches for the entirety of each relationship to help them address issues that arise and feel motivated to participate fully in the relationship. This blog, the second in the two-part series, is dedicated to outlining the importance of supporting mentors and suggest ways to support matches effectively.

Why Support Matches

  1. Help mentors build strong relationships with mentees.

Providing support in the form of resources and feedback can motivate and help mentors understand how to strengthen their relationship with their mentee. When mentors receive the support they need, they may be able to establish more trust in and be more empathic with their mentees, and mentees are more likely to reap the benefits of mentoring experiences.

  1. Address challenges in the mentoring relationship as they arise.

Unanticipated challenges can arise at any point in the mentoring relationship, and if issues are not handled properly, matches may end early, leaving the mentee feeling abandoned or confused. When left unaddressed, challenges to the relationship can also hinder mentee progress or prevent mentees from achieving their goals. Mentoring program staff can help matches last longer and help mentees achieve positive outcomes by providing resources and advice to mentors to help them navigate and overcome their match’s specific roadblocks.

  1. Help mentors consistently attend to their mentee’s needs as they grow and change.

As mentees grow, their developmental needs change, and mentors must be adaptable and ready to provide support to their mentee in new, developmentally appropriate ways. When mentoring program staff provide ongoing support to mentors from start to finish of the mentoring relationship, mentors will be better equipped to address their mentees changing needs at any stage in the relationship.

  1. Keep mentors engaged and satisfied throughout the mentoring experience.

Match satisfaction is a strong indicator of positive mentee outcomes, and mentor support plays an important role in achieving match satisfaction. By providing mentor support in the form of feedback and praising the match’s strengths, program staff can reinforce mentors’ motivations for volunteering and help mentors feel satisfied with the progress their match has already made. Match satisfaction may encourage mentors to continue participating fully in their mentoring relationship and feel motivated to go the extra mile for their mentee.

  1. Help parents and guardians of mentees understand how to support the mentoring relationship.

Sometimes, support involves providing additional resources and advice to the parents or guardians of mentees, in addition to mentors. When parents and guardians receive support from mentoring program staff, they may have more accurate expectations for the mentoring relationship and understand how to better support the match, which can, in turn, improve overall support the mentee receives and help the mentee achieve positive outcomes.

How to Provide Mentor Support

It is evident that mentor support can help matches achieve positive outcomes, but how can you provide the highest quality mentor support possible?

In collaboration with MENTOR, Mentoring Central outlined a series of research-informed Benchmark practices in the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM to guide your program staff in supporting mentors. To provide high-quality mentor support, program staff should check in with matches on a regular basis, provide resources to mentors, and deliver feedback on the progress of the match. In other words, the match support staff are acting as consultants with mentors providing them with training, technical assistance, and sometimes, even supervision.

Check in With Mentors

When program staff are in regular contact with mentors and parents or guardians of mentees, matches meet more frequently and last longer. Mentor support staff should meet with mentors at least twice during the first month of the match and once a month thereafter to assess the match’s needs, receive feedback from the mentor, determine the necessary resources to provide mentors with to navigate challenges, and provide feedback or advice to the mentor. Monthly contact with mentees and their parents or guardians is an additional recommended practice that can help program staff understand and attend to the match’s needs.

Program staff may communicate with and support mentors through texts, emails, or online forms, but it is important that staff also meet with mentors through phone calls, video chats, or in-person meetings on a regular basis. Face-to-face meetings and phone calls allow staff to ask the mentor clarifying questions, which can lead to a natural, flowing conversation, and to attend to nonverbal cues that provide insight into the match’s status and satisfaction.

The following questions are helpful conversation starters that staff can ask mentors, mentees, and parents/guardians to guide meetings and communication:

Staff should document the points discussed during check-in meetings, so support staff can refer back to information about the match and follow the progress of the mentoring relationship later.

Provide Resources

Feedback from mentors during meetings and communication should be used to identify specific needs and challenges the match is facing, so support staff can provide the appropriate resources to mentors to help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals. Depending on the needs of each match, program staff may need to provide mentors with access to resources in the form of expert advice from program staff or experienced mentors, publications, web-based resources, or mentor support groups. Staff should also provide mentees and their parents or guardians with access to relevant resources, such as advice from program staff, publications, web-based resources, or available social service referrals.

Your mentoring program’s staff should aim to be proactive when supporting matches. Providing educational resources to mentors prior to and throughout the mentoring relationship can help matches prevent and prepare to navigate potential challenges before they even arise. Ongoing training, provided at various points in the mentoring relationship, has been shown to provide mentors with knowledge and skills to achieve effective mentoring relationships and address challenges before they arise. Mentoring Central offers various evidence-based trainings for mentors, mentees, and parents or guardians of mentees to help matches understand the roles of participants in mentoring relationships, set realistic expectations, and address specific challenges facing youth. Browse Mentoring Central’s catalog for our list of offerings to support your mentors at various stages in the mentoring relationship.

Give Feedback

In addition to providing resources, mentoring program staff should provide feedback to mentors regularly regarding their mentees’ outcomes and match progress.

Program staff should aim to point out strengths in the mentoring relationship to help mentors understand how they are driving positive change in the life of their mentee. Many mentors are motivated to volunteer because they hope to be a positive influence in the lives of youth. By highlighting mentee progress and the positive impact that mentoring has had on the mentee, mentoring program staff can reinforce mentors’ motivation for volunteering and further facilitate relationship progress. To provide extra encouragement and recognize mentors, mentoring programs may consider writing thank you notes to mentors, scheduling low-cost events to celebrate matches, or sharing match stories on your website or social media.

Staff should also highlight challenges or areas matches can improve upon, so mentors can modify their interactions with mentees to continuously improve mentee outcomes. Feedback may also help mentors set realistic expectations for the mentoring relationship, and therefore their satisfaction with the relationship, by helping them understand indicators of mentee progress and barriers. Acknowledging obstacles the match faces may also help mentors feel seen and supported through challenges, rather than discouraged.

Mentoring Central Can Help

Mentoring Central provides trainings, resources, and information to help your program support mentors and foster long-lasting, impactful mentoring relationships. Subscribe to our newsletter to gain access to the newest resources and latest news from Mentoring Central!