Monday, May 07, 2012

Virtual Mentoring Tips

Mentoring across distance is becoming much more common place. Last week I delivered a mentor training program to a new set of mentors in the financial services industry. A couple of mentors were surprised that mentoring could work over the phone. In fact, I increasingly hear that virtual mentoring may work better for some parings than face to face meetings.

Here are a couple of tips to get the most out of virtual mentoring:
1. Set a clear agenda for the meeting. What is the focus of the conversation? What does the protege/mentee want to explore? It may be useful for you to have an agreement as to how this is communicated - ie. before the session or at the start?

2. Spend some time building your relationship. Sometimes mentoring at a distance is the only way due to geographic concerns. If you can, it may be useful to meet face to face, even via skype. Mentoring relationships can be strengthened when time is spent getting to know each other, and having discussion around what expectations exist around meeting (where/when), focus areas, type of support etc. Five - ten minutes spent on this can help to keep the process moving for the length of the partnership.
3. Understand each others styles. Virtual mentoring may be more comfortable for t
ose who are more reserved or introverted. Consider how virtual mentoring may support, or not support, your unique styles.

4. Mix it up. If face to face and virtual options are possible, consider how they can be used for greatest impact. You may notice a different "feel" to a call, lending itself to explore certain topic areas.

5. Make it regular. Just because you are not seeing each other face to face, out of sight does not mean out of mind. Together as a mentoring partnership determine how frequently you want to connect. Shorter touchpoints, more frequently may be of greater benefit.

In closing, consider how you can strengthen your mentoring process through the inclusion of more virtual meetings.

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Potentials Realized - Leadership and Teamwork 
Coaching, Training and Consulting Services
Phone: 416-996-TEAM (8326)

Would you like to reprint this post? Please do so with the following: As a former global leader with the UN and other international organizations, Jennifer has always led in "unusual times". Today, Jennifer works with teams and organizations to think outside of the norm, building capacity and solutions which are innovative and flexible. Jennifer is the author of Effective Group Coaching (John Wiley and Sons, 2010), the first book to be published on the topic of Group Coaching globally. She continues to work with clients across Canada, the US and globally, leveraging technology to close the gaps. Her corporate training retreat work has taken her to deliver programs in more than 18 countries.

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