- Sounding Board and Guidance – People of color need mentors who can ask the critical questions to reflect on their goals and values as they build their career. They also need people that understand how to navigate the professional ladder as they continue to grow and gain experience.
- Building a Network – Our society is based on relationship building. When it comes to finding jobs or moving up, it’s all about who you know. There is power in who is in your corner and people of color often do not have access to people who are willing to be in their corner or anyone at all.
- Skillbuilding – Mentoring and being mentored is a transferable skill! You set agendas, craft questions, asking for help, learning to reflect, challenging your values or defining them, critically analyzing yourself or work environment, and building important relationships. Please note that these skills are part of the process of a mentor relationship and no one gets these right off the bat.
Ideally, if you are pairing mentees and mentors for a professional purpose, it’s best to pair someone who has 5 – 10 years of experience more than the mentee. Conversations and the potential for guidance are optimal at this point.
- Who are you recruiting? Where are you advertising?
- What are the priorities of the people you are trying to match? Do mentees know what priorities they want in a mentor?
- Are you having a conversation about what can be important to them in a mentor?
Sometimes it’s not enough to match people based on their backgrounds or areas of interest. Compatibility between two people are also important to consider, if not would determine the success of a long-lasting mentor/mentee relationship beyond the program.
- Are you creating a space where both mentors and mentees get to know one another? Who has the power to choose their pairs? How are you preparing them to build an authentic relationship?
- Location of mentors and mentees; how do they commute? Consider whether or not mentors and mentees can travel easily to a mutual meeting place based on where they live/work.
- Cost of attending meetings (driving and purchasing drinks/snacks)
There is this awkward (yet understandable) dance between mentors and mentees about paying for drinks/snacks for meeting with each other.
- Mentors pay because they are likely to have a higher paying job.
- Mentees should pay because they are asking for the mentor’s time.
- Loss of work hours (if applicable)
- Set up a philosophy around how mentorship should work for your organization. RVC believes mentorship is about coaching and collaborating to find answers.
- Set up an onboarding process for each mentor pair to go over the structure, logistics (time commitment, quarterly check-ins, volunteer manual, gift cards to compensate for meeting beverages) and ask for their needs and support during this commitment.
- Coordinate a space and time where potential mentors and mentees get to meet. Compatibility is an important aspect of pairing and people should be given a chance to factor that in their choice.
- Check in at least once every other month with both mentors and mentees.
- Expectations of mentor and mentee/fellow
- Mentee Needs from a professional relationship
- Communication Styles
- Create a Mentor / Mentee Commitments & Agreements
- What are the commitments to each other?
- Monthly meetings? (required at least once a month)
- Asking for help?
- Communicate honestly?
- What is their conflict management style?
- How do they practice managing conflict?
- How do they want to be held accountable? And others?