New Business Mentoring To Build Agency Bench Strength: Part I

Set it up right to begin with
by Todd Knutson

mentoring1One of the ways to develop new business bench strength is through a well set-up mentoring program. A protege can learn quickly from a mentor with broad and deep knoweldge of the ad agency. The mentor will benefit from the teaching process and may enhance their career as their protege advances.

Drs. Dawn Chandler and Lillian Eby detail ways to establish an effective mentoring program in a May 24, 2010 Wall Street Journal report.

Six building blocks for an effective mentoring program.

  • Give it structure. Formalize goals, expectations, training, feedback, the conflict resolution process, and how to handle the end of the relationship ahead of time. Involve HR.
  • Recruit carefully. "Try to match mentors and proteges who have things in common, as those relationships are more likely to succeed."
  • Training and orientation. Set expectations for how often to meet and what each side is looking for. Teach proteges how to accept candid feedback from mentors; the importance of trust and effective communication skills; discuss danger signs and dangerous patterns of behavior; and, teach conflict-management skills.
  • What does success look like? Each side needs to understand and communicate what they want out of the relationship, and - critically important - "what will be required to make the collaboration worthwhile. Then they should either commit wholeheartedly or opt out."
  • Feedback. Mentors may give appraisals to their protege's manager to help accelerate their growth. Note: if there are problems to report, involve HR.
  • Prepare for the end. Every mentoring relationship comes to an end, so talk about the end in advance and plan for it.

In my next post, learn about the pitfalls of mentoring from Drs. Chandler and Eby.


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