The Lessons We Learned

In this final post, Clarice presents some of the most valuable lessons we learned as we developed our mentoring program.  We wish to share these with all rover crews who are considering establishing their own mentoring program.  If you are interested in more information about mentoring, or would like to get in touch with us, please comment below or email info@pccrovers.comWe’d love to hear from you!

The-Importance-of-a-Mentor

Since we launched our mentoring program in 2008, we have experienced many changes and a lot of growth – the journey was not easy or straightforward.  We’ve certainly had our share of successes and failures.  No single article could do this journey justice, but we are passionate about sharing with other rover crews the most important things we learned along the way!

#1: Be rover-centric.

We always strive to understand and be sensitive to the needs of young adults at various stages of development.  For example, a 18-year old Rover scout just getting into post-secondary education has drastically different needs and priorities compared to a 24-year old Rover scout who is seeking employment.  We found that our most successful mentors take these differences into account and adjust their mentoring style accordingly to make the best connection with the Rover scout.

Our mentoring program as a whole also needs to be flexible so that we can adapt to the wide range of needs of our rover scouts.  For example, we’ve kept our Personal Development Plan template simple (see previous article on “The Inner Workings of PDPs at 180th”).  This allows rover scouts to document their goals and objectives at the level of depth suitable for their stage of development.  Furthermore, our mentor team consists of senior rover scouts and Advisors with a vast range of experiences and work styles, which enables us to match rover scouts to a mentor with experience in their field of interest.

#2: Have a spirit of continuous improvement.  Evolve and change for the better.

We understand that if we stop improving our program, we will not be able to keep up with the needs of our rover scouts.  Consider the evolution of how frequently our mentors interact with their mentees:  The very first mentoring sessions were primarily spontaneous chats.  We quickly saw a need to have at least three formal meetings per year with our mentees – this helped mentors and mentees build relationships and increase a mentee’s accountability to their goals.  As our crew grew in membership and our structure increased in complexity, we realized that a mentor’s role must extend beyond helping mentees with goal setting, to include helping to engage our mentees in crew activities so that they have a means to develop their skills and contribute back to the program.  We found that having informal touch bases with mentees at least once a month can help achieve this.  Just this year, we implemented the 4DX framework as a tool to help mentors improve rover engagement.

We evaluate the effectiveness of our mentoring program on a regular basis and implement changes where necessary.  This prevents us from being complacent and keeps us relevant to the needs of our rover scouts!

#3: Support mentors!

As much as mentees need support and guidance, we learned that it was important to support mentors too!  We want all 25 members of our mentor team to feel that they are building their skills, continuously learning, and know where to go for help.  A few things that we do to support our mentors include:

  • Mentor circles – we have four circles, each consisting of 5 to 7 mentors of varying mentoring experience.  Each circle interacts on a weekly basis to share successes and to discuss strategies for better engaging mentees.
  • Mentor orientation – all new mentors attend this training to understand the basics of our mentoring program and what it means to be a mentor in our crew.
  • Quarterly gatherings – all mentors meet at least once every 3 months where we discuss and make decisions on matters that affect our mentoring program as a whole.

These lessons were fundamental to the current success of our mentoring program.  Without a doubt, we will continue to build on these learnings to further improving the quality of our program.  We will look forward to sharing more of our mentoring experiences with you in the near future!

Cheryl Kwan

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