Can ANYONE Be a Mentoring “Consultant”?

By Barry Sweeny, 2003


“Gate Keeping” in the Professions

By definition a professional is a member of a group with it’s own set of complex practices and a knowledge base about what constitutes excellence in those practices. That, of course, implies the existence of a set of standards.

Some definitions also include a provision that states that members of the “profession” maintain their own group of formal members, and that the group exercises some “gate
keeping” functions to ensure that only qualified persons who meet certain defined standards are admitted to the profession. Usually such admission depends on attaining some level of certification which proves the candidate has the requisite skills and knowledge and has been admitted after some sequence of “peer review”.

At this point in my career (semi-retired), I am NOT “up” for doing anything big about this problem. I DO have a few ideas to move in that direction. Read on.

The Reality in Mentoring Consulting

That description, or even any part of the description, seems so far from the reality of the profession of consulting, especially consulting in mentoring. The problem is that anyone who decides to call themselves a consultant in mentoring, instantly becomes one by virtue of claiming to BE one. In that sense, the roles played, skills, or experience of the consultant are virtually insignificant and irrelevant, which makes the title of mentoring consultant essentially meaningless.

I am determined to do something about this problem

I don’t know how YOU feel about that situation, assuming you are a mentoring consultant
too. If it is a concern to you too, then I invite you to read on and consider joining me in an effort to change the situation to the extent that we can.

I am determined to do something about this problem. I know that, regardless of what I might do concerning the problem, that anyone who wants to, will still be able to claim to be a mentoring consultant. I guess I’d just like to create a clearer line between those of us who have considerable experience and skill as mentoring consultants, and those who have less experience and fewer skills.

My goal is NOT to stop anyone from claiming to be a mentoring consultant.

My goal is NOT to keep others out of MY business or to save more clients for myself.

Tentatively, my goals ARE to:

  1. Clarify what an excellent mentoring consultant should know, be able to do, and
    be like.
  2. Provide some level of protection to the organizations and people who use consultants from persons who do not have the skill, background, and knowledge to effectively serve client needs.
  3. Assign some level of significant meaning to the title “mentoring consultant”.

A Proposal

How do I suggest these goals could be accomplished? I will:

  1. Collect the names and contact information for any consultants in mentoring who are also concerned about the problem that anyone can claim to be a mentoring consultant. Send me that information if YOU are concerned and agree to help with any of the following steps.
  2. Form an IMA Mentoring Consultants and Trainers Network (IMA-MCTN) to meet during the 2012 international IMA conference on mentoring.  Interested? Go to the email address in the above paragraph and let me know.
  3. Present the challenge to the members of the IMA Consultants Network.
  4. Present my suggestions and facilitate discussion about our options to address the problem.
  5. Guide the development of the option we select
  6. Contribute in any way I can to the implementation and support of the effort, through working with the IMA Board as needed, typing up summaries of Network decisions and drafts, distributing info, etc..

What might we do?

AFTER we form the above Network – How about requiring nomination or approval by at least one member of the IMA Mentoring Consultants and Trainers Network to become a member of that Network?  This would provide some level of “peer review”.

Members of the IMA Mentoring Consultants and Trainers Network could place that phrase on business cards, web sites, and in their advertising. The IMA Mentoring Consultants and Trainers Listing on this web site could also indicate with an icon or such, which persons are members of the Network, and that could be explained as “A select group with entry limited to only those who are nominated by a current network member”.

Perhaps that would help separate the wannabees from the experts, at least a little.

BY the way, if YOU are a consultant but have not yet requested that your business be listed in IMA’s Consultants Listing, go there now to see the kind of info different consultants
have provided, write up your own “blurb”, and then paste it into an e-mail
to Barry Sweeny
, IMA’s webmaster.