A Plan for a Mentoring Information & Recruitment Meeting

by Barry Sweeny, 2003


Two Recommendations

Ensuring that a mentor program always has enough mentors available to meet the needs of the program is a continual concern for mentoring program leaders and for proteges. That is why I always recommend that a program maintain a “pool” of previously trained and available mentors. I also recommend that every mentoring program hold 2-3 Mentoring Information Meetings each year.

Goals for the Informational Meeting

Of course, these information meetings serve the mentor candidates as an informational opportunity, but they also can serve the program as a recruitment opportunity. I just would not advertise the meetings as a “recruitment” meeting. Such a label might scare off candidates before they even have a chance to get excited and informed about the benefits of being mentors.

Goals for the info meeting therefore are:

  • To recruit new mentors for the program.
  • To ensure that recruited mentors understand what is expected of effective mentors
    so they may make an informed choice about assuming the role.
  • To ensure that mentors understand the process and criteria for selection, matching,
    dealing with mismatches, mentor training, and serving as mentors.
  • To create the conditions in which persons who should NOT be mentors will choose NOT to candidate for the position.

If you are a mentor:

    • Talk with experienced mentors before attending a mentoring informational meeting.
    • Ask them whatever questions you have, but also ask them what questions THEY would
      suggest YOU ask at the info meeting.
    • Make your own list of questions to ask at the info meeting.
    • Ask all the questions you need to.
    • Use the potential goals above and the suggested content below to help you think about the information the mentoring program offers, and to decide if there is more you want to know that the program does not explain.
    • Ask questions about the things the program does NOT explain.
    • Get a mentoring application, but feel free to WAIT until later to complete and submit it.
    • Take all the time you need to review your notes, the program literature you received, your questions and the answers you were given.
    • Call the mentor program coordinator if you think of additional questions.
    • Use the “Should I be a mentor” survey to help you think about the decision of becoming a mentor candidate.
    • If you decide to candidate to be a mentor, be sure to plan exactly what you will STOP doing
      in your work and/or personal life to create the time needed to be an effective mentor. Two to three hours a week, on average, is typical, but the needs of each specific protege dictate this.

If You Are a Mentor Program Leader:

  • Reread the suggested goals for the info meeting, paying special attention to any underlying assumptions you may detect.
  • Simply stated, the first goal of getting an adequate number of mentors is in potential conflict with some of the other goals
  • Some leaders specifically do NOT explain fully what is expected of mentors at an initial informational meeting. Basically, they are in need of more mentors and are afraid they may “scare off” prospects.
  • This author is emphatic that the previously stated approach is the wrong one. Be careful that, if
    you want mentoring “in the worst way” that you don’t get it that way.
  • You should present the expectations of mentors carefully, and realistically, but because of the fourth goal, you must be completely candid with mentoring prospects about what effective mentoring requires.
  • Also, think proactively about the processes and criteria for selection, matching, and dealing with mismatches, and then plan what you can do NOW at the info meeting that will set up mentors for greater success later as they go through those later processes.
  • For ideas about how to do this proactive thinking, read the info on those topics (especially on mismatches) provided elsewhere in this web site. You will be very glad you did.

Suggested Meeting Agenda

Make a planning matrix that is set up and used as follows:

1. Create five vertical columns and about 12-15 horizontal rows.

2. Title the first vertical column on the left “Agenda Items”

3. Title the remaining four vertical columns, each with one of the goals provided above.

4. Create titles for the elements you want to plan in the agenda. These go on the horizontal rows.

5. Compare each of the agenda items against each of the goals, checking only those with clear, strong connections.

6. Analyze the check marks to ensure that:

  • Each goal has 2-3 agenda items addressing it. Any less than 2-3 risks NOT achieving the goal.
  • Each agenda item has at least one goal it addresses very well.  Thise not addressing at least one goal are candidates for deleting from the plan – why do them?

7. Remove or rework any agenda item not clearly connected to at least one goal.

8. Compare the proposed agenda items you have developed to the listing below. Forget anything?

Agenda Items

The Mentoring Program Leader (or meeting leader)…

  • Introduces self and role in mentoring program.
  • Shares the agenda for the meeting and encourages questions at any time
  • Explains the FIRST THREE goals for the meeting
  • Explains the following
    • The differences among mentoring, coaching, and evaluation
    • The rationale for the mentoring program
    • The purpose and goals for the mentoring program
    • The two approaches which mentors in the program use:
      • Mentoring for orientation and/or skill and career development
      • Mentoring to ensure implementation of training in the protege’s practice  (the “Bridge” function)
    • The roles and tasks of effective mentors
    • The expectations for time, frequency, and outcomes, etc. which the program holds for mentors
    • What mentors gain from the mentoring experience
    • Mentoring incentives and recognition that are provided
    • The mentor selection process and criteria
    • The mentor-protege matching process and criteria
    • The program’s process and time line for dealing with mismatches (do NOT skip this here)
    • The process of and rationale for the required initial mentor training, and follow up training and meetings
    • The mentoring of mentors process
  • Allow a few minutes for each table group to discuss and then develop a list of any unanswered questions.
  • Ask for and answer the questions raised at each table.
  • Provide and explain the Mentor Application and when it is due.
  • Explain any remaining “next steps” mentors might take, and who to contact with additional questions.

An alternative activity that is very effective is to use a panel of 2-3 experienced mentors to address some of the content and answer questions along with the leader. As “peers” their testimonies and explanations will be very credible and welcome.