Creating a Custom Mentoring Plan
When first making the decision to participate in a mentoring program, there is both excitement and anticipation as to what will be gained in terms of personal and professional growth. While many participants often find themselves with a number of great ideas for their career development, others may sometimes hit a road block when tasked to map out those ideas. The development of an engaging and challenging plan should not be an overwhelming project. The following are a few simple considerations in creating a dynamic and meaningful mentoring action plan:
Make it Manageable. While it is admirable to have high aspirations for one’s career development, to plan elaborate mentoring activities may prove to be frustrating. For example, while participating in a six month detail may be an attractive leadership development goal, completion of a detail that spans half of a year may not be practical given current responsibilities and mission priorities. Consider breaking the detail down into smaller manageable projects with shorter timeframes. Not only has the pressure been taken off, but what you now have in front of you is a plan that is realistic and doable.
Make Monthly Modifications. There are many events, situations and responsibilities that ebb and flow in the course of one’s everyday life. As focus shifts to meet these new situations, mentoring plans should also reflect these modifications and new directions. A sound mentoring plan should not be rigid, but rather a fluid and flexible guide to assist in your mentoring journey. For instance, you may find yourself wanting to explore another career direction as a result of various conversations with your mentor. That is the perfect time to revisit your plan and add or delete activities that are more closely aligned to your new interests.
Make it Relevant. When coming up with mentoring activities, consider the greater impact of the learning activity. Look for opportunities that give you a sense of accomplishment yet are relevant and closely aligned with the mission of your organization. For example, the organization most likely has a number of meaningful projects and tasks that will enhance your leadership capacity, solve a problem that crosses divisions, or cultivates strategic relationships and partnerships. This is also an ideal opportunity to solicit ideas from your supervisor. Your supervisor may be able to identify a relevant learning activity that can yield a win-win situation for everyone involved.
ASK A MENTOR
Your mentor and supervisor are great resources for potential developmental activities for your mentoring action plan. Given their professional level, they most likely will be able to give you a few project ideas that address an existing need within the department or organization. They also will be able to point you in the direction of beneficial contacts. The following are a few things to discuss with your mentor or supervisor:
· Brainstorm ideas for projects that could help the current mission.
o Who would it affect?
o What kind of doors would it open for you?
o What are the steps needed to plan and execute?
o Would it require supervisor approval?
· Review the timeline for activities you have planned.
o Is the timeline reasonable?
o What is important for you to do now, and what can wait a couple months?
· What are some outside areas you are interested in?
o Does your mentor know any contacts in this area?