The Five Stages of Mentoring

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The Five Stages of Mentoring

                                                Created by: Kevin Schwenker

Kevin Schwenker, of Schwenker & Associates has been involved in designing and executing Mentor Program for the last 20 years. Schwenker & Associates has partnered with BoomersPlus to launch the Virtual Mentor Program. 

Mentoring is an intentional developmental relationship. The key word is relationship. Mentoring is not about lectures, ‘downloading’ knowledge, group interviews, or rotating conversations with successful leaders; nor is it networking or a one-time meeting. To be effective, Mentoring must be a sustained relational partnership:  the Mentor and Mentee must share a connection and a purpose.  

Research has shown that, to be effective and efficient, both the Mentor and the Mentee benefit from a solid foundation of education that prepares them to enter into a developmental relationship.  Well-designed training that provides the necessary grounding, preparation and planning will ensure that both the Mentoring partnership(s) – and the Mentoring program – will achieve measurable, impactful results.

 In the Virtual Mentor Program, both Mentor and Mentee get essential grounding in the five-stage model (shown at left) which will guide the work of the Mentoring partnership. Both Mentor and Mentee will understand the preparation and planning required to negotiate and enter a successful long-term learning and development relationship. Both will gain an understanding of their responsibilities, and the essential competencies and activities required to make the Mentoring partnership work. And both will understand the importance of a well thought out closure and celebration of their work together.

The Five Stage Mentoring Process, which underpins our Virtual Mentor Program, is designed to follow a logical, sequential and dynamic process that establishes the conditions for excellence and success. For more detail on each stage go to the website….

Stage 1 – Grounding and Personal Foundation

Stage 1 sets the Mentor and Mentee up to function at a high level of excellence in their upcoming Mentoring partnership. Having a strong personal foundation and increased self-awareness, establishing clear intentions, and knowing key strengths and assets, are the foundational cornerstones explored in this stage.  This is an essential starting point to begin planning the work of the partnership in an inspired, confident and “game ready” state. 

Stage 2 – Preparation and Planning

Stage 2 builds on the solid work undertaken in Stage 1. Here, the focus is on readiness, and diligent preparation and planning that will enable success in the Mentoring partnership. Exploring key roles & responsibilities, establishing expectations through goal setting, and identifying issues around communications and boundaries are key components of this stage.  As a result, key processes, protocols and guidelines have been thought through by each partner going into initial meetings and conversations. 

Stage 3 – Negotiate and Initialize

Stage 3 is the time to meet and discuss how the partnership will function. Goal expectations, relationship responsibilities, communications protocols, and boundaries around privacy and confidentiality are established and committed to during this phase. How access to the Mentor’s network will work, how accountability will be ensured, and how the partners will deal with difficult challenges to the relationship are negotiated.  The result of this stage is a well-defined Mentoring Partnership Agreement that creates a solid framework for the upcoming work of the partnership.

Stage 4 – Support and Enable 

Stage 4 is the “action lab” for Mentor and Mentee development and achievement: facilitating learning, creating and supporting opportunities for positive growth and development of the Mentee, as well as, focusing on specific goals and outcomes for both partners. Maintaining healthy communications, tracking progress and results, and giving constructive feedback on what is working and not working will ensure both partners are functioning at a high level of awareness and efficacy. Having tools to deal positively with challenging and problematic behaviours is also essential. Action learning, progressive achievement, and keeping attuned to any issues which might derail the partnership are the essence of the work during this stage of the Mentoring partnership.

Stage 5 – Closure and Celebration 

Stage 5 is, unfortunately, often overlooked in a high percentage of Mentoring relationships and programs. Facilitating closure or completion in the Mentoring partnership is a necessary and powerful step in the development of both the Mentor and Mentee. It is a time to reflect on the achievements of the partnership, and any shortcomings, in order to plan more effective behaviours in the future. It is also the time to reflect on what the next steps might be for both the Mentor and the Mentee. And in appropriate acts of celebration, it is the time to show gratitude and appreciation for the quality time spent together.

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