Program Model

Many mentoring programs design what they do based on examination of what other mentor programs have been doing. If the other mentor program has the SAME GOALS and has been shown to be ACCOMPLISHING THOSE GOALS, then such a design approach can be useful and productive.

However, these TWO qualifiers are often NOT considered when using this approach.

Another, much more effective approach is to design a mentor program based on a proven program model. That process is what this web page describes. Even if your own program used the other method, you can still use the advice provided here to increase your program’s impact and results.


Designing a Mentor Program Model

The program model should be such that it can serve as a guide for selecting and then developing the needed program components, a guide for participants and leaders to design and then monitor the activities the of each component, and a guide for evaluating the effectiveness of these activities in accomplishing program goals. That makes the program model pretty essential to the program’s success!

Given that importance, it is critical that the program model be selected or designed with careful use of research into effective human development in general and mentoring applications in specific. This author has done this work, and as a result, recommends the use if the CBAM Stages of Concern as the basis for all program models WHICH HAVE THE GOAL OF DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLE. Simply stated, “if your program exists to develop people, shouldn’t the program be designed based on a proven, research-based MODEL of human development?”  The CBAM Stages of Concern is the best such model this author has found, especially for use in design, implementation, and improvement of mentoring programs.

Use it to design the program and to design any training for mentors and proteges. Mentors should use it to assess protege needs and then design appropriate mentoring responses. And use it to evaluate mentor and protege performance, performance improvement, and overall program effectiveness.

Start by Selecting Components Matched to Needs and Goals

Basically,. this title means, “Use the model to assess learned needs for the stages the learners will go through (in the model) and then, design the developmentally appropriate activities to target those developing needs.

Use of the CBAM Stages of Concern (above) will guide you to see the stages through which mentors and proteges must progress as they learn and grow. The specific nature of their learning needs at each stage of development will require activities (program components) that are designed to specifically suit those learning needs.

For example, need for basic information suggests the need for a presentation, while a need to plan to use that information in their practice suggests a workshop or customized assistance of a mentor to support, guide, and coach the protege through the planning and to production of a well-designed plan. The need to assess and solve problems found during implementation might be addressed by collegial sharing within a peer support group, or again, could be addressed through customized mentor support.

For help in this, see this web page.

Identifying Best Practices for Each Component

Lots of programs have activities. The essential question is, “Are the activities producing the desired learning, growth, and performance improvement?” You don’t need a lot of activities – you need results.

When a program component (activity) is designed, be sure to base that design on research-proven advice and be sure that it makes sense within the program model (CBAM?). If this advice is used, the program activity will be using best practices and will be most likely to achieve the results for which they exist. The idea is that each step of development participants experience will do what it needs to do, and therefore, learning and growth will happen and performance will improve.

Design in Synergy

“Synergy” is a multiplying effect, an interaction among parts that increases the effect of all parts. To increase the synergy among your program components, be sure that each activity is designed to do TWO things:

1. Build on what was done in other program activities to prepare participants for this activity. Use participants’ prior experience and learning as a strength, as the starting point. Another way to say this is, assess what participants already know and start there.

2. End your activity by preparing participants for the next step in their development. If participants are proteges who will be expected to implement a plan developed in your activity, help them consider or predict what may happen in implementation, and then pre-plan what they can do  if it does.  If mentors are to provide follow up support after a protege training to improve protege implementation of what they learned, then help proteges think about how they can benefit from mentor support during that implementation, and let mentors know what the proteges learned in the activity and suggest ways they can provide follow up support for improved implementation.

The idea is that all program components, all activities make sense and build on each other as a learning sequence which the program designs for maximum growth and to ensure that no learner falls “through any cracks” and stops progressing.

Framing the Sequence of Activities as a Program “Logic Model”

A “logic model” is your “theory of mentoring” (in this case). The logic model states the expected sequence of development each participant should experience. This author has explained this idea as a “Chain of Causes and Effects” in which each link (program component) must be strong for the whole chain to work. A web page that explains this critical concept can help you better grasp what it looks like and how it functions.
The Education Chain of Causes and EffectsLogic models can be written as a narrative, but most often are expressed as a flow chart. They can become quite complex because they contain a series of “if – then” statements which explain each learning step in a year or two long sequence.

An example of a logic model for mentoring is:

1. “IF mentors are selected for ability to do activities that effective mentors can do, THEN  selected mentors will be effective.”

2. “IF selected mentors are assessed for which effective mentoring activities they can and cannot do, THEN mentor trainings can de designed to address those gaps and mentor trainings will be effective.”

3. “IF selected and assessed mentors actively participate in effective mentor training, THEN mentors can be expected to perform effectively.”

4. IF Mentors use the proven mentoring strategies learned in an effective mentor training, THEN proteges can be expected to learn and grow more and faster than similar unmentored persons.”

5. Etc.

Logic models often have several branches to allow including in the model the effects of matching and dealing with mismatches, of mentoring of mentors, of mentor peer support groups, etc.

Finally, the steps in the logic model become points of assessment during program and participant evaluations. In other words, for the desired impact to ‘flow” through the chain of causes and effects, best practices and synergy (see above) must happen at each step in that chain, at each step in the logic model. Assessment at each step then allows a program to determine where the flow is broken, that is, at which step in the planned developmental sequence the effectiveness is blocked by lack of of knowing best practice or lack of implementation.