Are you interested in career mentoring? | Are you planning to organize a mentoring program? | Would you want to have a mentor? | Would you want to become a mentor? | Career mentoring phases and material
Are you interested in arranging a career mentoring programme in your organisation? Mentoring can be provided for various target groups such as highly educated immigrants, less educated or uneducated immigrants, young native Finns, the unemployed or those at the beginning of their careers. Selecting the target group and defining the organiser’s goals for mentoring go hand in hand.
Mentoring can produce various positive results in employment and personal growth. Mentoring supports employment, the development of identity, professional and psychological growth and networking. Through mentoring, many have access to personal support and encouragement for Finnish working life and professional networks.
This page helps you organise mentoring activities, and offers practical tips and ready-made material for running a productive programme.
Also visit the Career mentoring phases and supporting material page for information about the process from the perspectives of mentors and mentees, and for supporting material for mentors and mentees. The page also includes a template for preparing a mentoring agreement between a mentor and mentee.
The range of mentoring programmes is broad. The more activities the mentoring programme includes, the more planning and work it needs. The number of participants in the mentoring programme also affects what you need to organise.
Before your mentoring programme begins, you should define your available resources. Organising a mentoring programme requires the most resources before it begins. In addition, you need to:
- define goals and the target group
- plan the structure and content of the programme
- select the implementation method
- recruit mentors and mentees, and form mentoring pairs
- plan marketing and communication activities
- plan the safety of the participants and support them during the process.
When the mentoring programme is underway, less work is required. The mentoring process is primarily a relationship between the mentor and mentee. It is also their responsibility. What is most important is that you monitor the progress of the process and provide support when it is needed.
You can monitor the process through email queries, meetings and calls, for example. The end of the programme must also be planned: will you organise a shared final event to end the programme? Will each mentoring pair end the process independently?
If you invest in preparations and planning before your programme, the programme will run with less effort. The mentor and mentee are responsible for the mentoring process, while the organiser needs to support the participants and possibly monitor the process.
Once the mentoring programme has ended, the organiser can study the impact of the programme and assess the results. This is useful for further development and improved activities.
The organiser’s workload is biggest before the mentoring programme begins. You should take time when planning your mentoring programme to ensure your workload decreases after the programme has started, and there are fewer surprises.
When planning a mentoring programme, consider at least the following questions:
- What do you want to accomplish through mentoring?
- What resources are available to you?
- For whom do you intend to provide mentoring?
- What is the goal of the mentoring programme?
- Will mentoring be provided in pairs or in groups?
- How can you ensure that the participants receive sufficient information for mentoring?
- What kind of mentoring process do you want to organise, and how long will it be?
- How can you reach the participants?
- How will you communicate with the participants, and how much time/resources will you invest in communication?
- How much and how will you support the progress of the mentoring process?
Download and print a to-do list for the planning phase: To-do list for the planning phase (PDF)
A mentoring programme is nothing without participants. Marketing is therefore one of the most important steps before the mentoring programme. You should invest time in marketing, and plan and prepare it thoroughly.
The selected target group determines how and where you should advertise your mentoring programme. Different target groups can be reached in different channels. Find out where you can reach the target group you have selected.
Also consider the language in your advertising material. If your mentoring programme is intended for a target group whose members may not fully speak or understand Finnish, consider what language you should use in your advertising. Note that the use of understandable and plain Finnish may also be necessary for native Finns, as they may also have challenges in understanding the language (e.g. because of dyslexia or developmental disorders).
If your target group consists of people with an immigrant background, consider whether it would be better to organise your programme in English. In other words, the language is connected not only to marketing, but also to the goals of your mentoring programme.
Use visual design in your marketing material, such as marketing photos accompanied with text. Images posted in social media services attract more attention than posts that only contain text.
The visual design should be straightforward and harmonised with the organiser’s other communication material, and its quality should be high.
When recruiting participants, try to convey as much information as possible about what is included in your mentoring programme, and what is required from participants. Build a realistic image of mentoring for mentors and mentees to avoid any misunderstandings and oversized expectations. Also remember to indicate a contact person who provides more information.
Tips for recruiting mentors
- Try to communicate what benefits mentors obtain from mentoring (e.g. experience in guidance, new perspectives on their work and industry, international experience and linguistic skills if mentees have an immigrant background).
- Also try to contact potential mentors directly. A personal contact is more effective than a general advertisement.
- When contacting mentors personally, try to say why the person being contacted would be the correct mentor for a specific mentee.
- Try to express what mentoring requires from mentors (e.g. how much time is needed, what kind of help the mentee needs).
Marketing channels for recruiting mentors:
- Social media, especially Facebook and LinkedIn
- Employee associations
- YES Kummit portal
- Personal professional networks
- Email lists and newsletters
Tips for recruiting mentee
- Try to paint a realistic picture of what mentees can learn and receive from mentoring.
- Express what the mentoring programme requires (e.g. duration and frequency of meetings).
- Clearly indicate what the target group (criteria) of the mentoring programme is (are).
Marketing channels for recruiting mentees:
- Social media, especially Facebook and LinkedIn
- Educational institutes and universities
- Social integration and other training events, e.g. entrepreneurship training
- Email lists and newsletters
Download and print example messages for marketing: example_messages_for_marketing (PDF)
Mentoring takes place between two people – the mentor and the mentee. Mentoring can also be provided in groups consisting of several mentors or mentees. Mentors and mentees have different roles.
These roles are presented here, and instructions are also given on how to form mentoring pairs. As mentoring may have various goals, roles must also be defined, and mentoring pairs must be formed on their basis.
A mentor is an experienced professional in their field, whose role is to share their experience and knowledge of working life and their respective field with the mentee. The mentor knows a great deal of information that may be useful for the mentee.
The mentor’s role is to understand, listen, coach or be a critical friend or mirror for an mentee who is considering their own professional identity, goals, skills or working life in general.
The key task of the mentor is to support and encourage the mentee to move forward. It is important that the mentor listens to the mentee’s wishes, goals and thoughts, offers different perspectives and helps the mentee on their way to professional growth.
Mentoring focuses on the mentee’s development and growth. Often, it also gives ideas, feelings of success and experiences of growth to the mentor. Being a mentor is a valuable experience, which also increases the mentor’s skillset and offers joy in helping others.
An mentee is at the beginning of their career or only planning their career, and they want to actively develop their professional skills. The mentee may be a native Finn or someone with an immigrant background.
The mentee’s role is to be active; after all, mentoring is based on the mentee’s wishes and goals. In other words, the mentee must raise themes in which they want to develop and grow. These are the goals of mentoring.
The mentee needs to ask questions and present ideas that they have relating to working life, job-seeking and professions. The mentee is responsible for their learning and for using everything they have learned from the mentor.
Matching mentoring pairs
Matching ideal mentoring pairs is an important part of mentoring. Pairs can be formed in many ways, depending on the main goals of mentoring.
For example, pairs can be formed on the basis of professional backgrounds, areas of interest, gender or age. Sometimes, mentors and mentees with different professional backgrounds can also form well-functioning pairs. When matching mentoring pairs, consider the mentee’s wishes and goals for mentoring. Ideal pairs must always be formed separately each time.
The mentor and mentee should enter into a mentoring agreement. You can find a mentoring agreement template on the Career mentoring phases and supporting material page.
As the organiser, it is your responsibility to ensure that the participants have studied the mentoring process and the material used. The mentoring programme can be started by a shared meeting or orientation session. The mentoring programme may also include different meetings, depending on the structure and content of the programme.
Orientation can be provided for mentors and mentees together or separately. If orientation is provided separately, more resources are needed, but orientation can be focused differently, e.g. on providing peer support and discussing specific roles.
It is also useful to plan what to do with individuals who cannot participate in orientation. How can they be provided with enough information and tools to start mentoring? Options include the arrangement of a new orientation session or discussion and the provision of written orientation material, which individuals can read independently.
Download a PowerPoint template for an orientation session: Mentoring orientation for organisers (PDF)
The mentoring process of the participants can be monitored both during and after the programme. Options for monitoring include interim and/or final meetings, telephone calls and email queries.
Experiences and feedback obtained through monitoring are an important part of operational development, reporting and assessment. The organiser benefits from monitoring by obtaining information about the progress of the mentoring process and the experiences gained from the programme. This offers valuable information about the productivity of the programme.
However, monitoring requires resources from the organiser. Yet monitoring strengthens the engagement of the participants in the process and programme, which in turn improves the programme’s results.
Monitoring should be based on a defined structure. This makes monitoring easier and helps to compare the experiences of the participants with each other.
An example of monitoring during the process
- News: how has mentoring proceeded so far?
- Goals: what goals have you set for mentoring, and how have you tried to achieve them?
- Themes and topics: what kinds of theme have you discussed?
- The number of meetings
- Feedback for the organiser
- Wishes for mentoring
An example of monitoring after the process
- News: what is your situation right now? What have you done after the programme?
- Mentoring experience: what kind of experience was the mentoring programme as a whole?
- Goals: what goals did you set, and did you achieve them?
- Themes and topics: what kinds of theme did you discuss, and what did you get out of them?
- Lessons learned: what did you learn or realise during the mentoring programme? What did you get out of mentoring?
- Contact: are you still in contact with your mentoring pair?
- Feedback for the organiser
- For mentors: would you like to participate again as a mentor?
Communication is an important part of the mentoring programme and its success. Well-functioning, sufficient and clear communication makes the participants feel safe, reducing misunderstandings and unclear situations on both sides.
The amount of communication needed during the programme depends on the selected programme structure. However, communication mainly takes place before the programme.
Before the mentoring programme
- React and send an email as quickly as possible to everyone who has registered. Thank the participants for their interest and tell them how your preparations are proceeding (e.g. when mentoring pairs will be matched, when the programme will begin, what happens if no mentor can be found).
- Contact the participants when you have matched them with a mentoring pair (mentee or mentor). Also share information about the start of the mentoring programme.
- If you arrange an orientation session, send an invitation to each mentor and mentee for whom you have found an ideal mentoring pair.
- Also indicate how the mentoring programme will begin. If orientation is an independent process, instruct the participants properly.
- Instruct the participants if they need to prepare for the orientation session.
- If not all the participants can attend the orientation session, tell them how they can study the orientation material independently or arrange a new orientation session for them.
At the beginning of the mentoring programme
- Thank the participants for attending the orientation session, remind them of the most important tips and tell them that they can always contact you when facing a difficult situation.
- Hand out any material.
- Wish the participants luck in their mentoring process.
- Build a discussion platform, e.g. a WhatsApp or Facebook group, if you planned one, and add interested participants to the group.
During the mentoring process
- Invite the participants to an interim meeting if there is one. Remind the participants of the meeting a day or two beforehand.
- Conduct a follow-up analysis if you have planned one and have enough resources. This can be conducted by email or phone.
At the end of the mentoring programme
- Invite the participants to a final meeting if there is one. Remind the participants of the meeting a few days beforehand.
- Collect feedback at the final meeting or afterwards by email.
- Send a thank you note to the participants.
The organiser is responsible for ensuring the data privacy of all participants in the mentoring programme, and for seeing to the general safety and security of the participants.
It is important that the participants are instructed to address the basic principles of safety and security during the mentoring relationship. For example:
- The first meeting of the mentor and mentee should be in a public place.
- Mentoring pairs will exchange selected contact details when they meet.
- Mentoring pairs must agree the rules of mentoring at the beginning.
If the organiser makes discussion groups or email lists, participants may only be added to them with their consent. The retention and distribution of data must be based on the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and good practices.
Find out about information security before the mentoring programme to ensure that data is collected, retained and distributed in compliance with data protection law.
Challenging situations may arise during the mentoring process, and the organiser should react to them. Any challenges should already be discussed during the orientation session, for example. Highlight the significance of open, honest and respectful interaction for mentors and mentees to prevent any problematic situations.
A few examples of different problems that may arise between mentors and mentees are listed below.
- There is no chemistry between the mentor and mentee. This prevents the mentoring pair from achieving their goals. Neither the mentor nor the mentee can raise the subject, and they want to stop the mentoring programme.
- One partner has repeatedly cancelled meetings due to busy schedules. The mentor and mentee have not seen each other in a while, which is why the mentoring process is not progressing. The other partner feels they are only wasting their time.
- While the mentor and mentee meet each other, the other partner seems absent-minded and focused on something else. Meetings are constantly interrupted due to phone calls. It is difficult to stay on topic.
- The mentor and mentee meet remotely, and there are problems with internet connections. The communication app does not work due to a bad connection. As a result, meetings are cancelled.
- There are communication problems between the mentor and mentee due to a language barrier. The mentoring process does not seem to get started, and the pair cannot set goals for mentoring. The mentor and mentee, or one of them, consider their meetings stressful.
- The mentor or mentee feels their pair behaves improperly and disrespectfully. Meetings make them feel uncomfortable. The willingness to meet continues to decrease. The mentor and mentee do not want to discuss it.
How should you react to challenging situations?
When the organiser becomes aware of a challenging situation, don’t hesitate to react as quickly as possible. Try to build an overview of the situation by talking with both parties.
It would be important to talk both separately and together, depending on the situation. Open and honest communication and a productive dialogue are important in trying to analyse and fix the situation.
Mutual respect and listening to others are key. The organiser can act as an impartial judge to engage the parties in a dialogue. It is important that the organiser does not choose sides, but tries to understand both the mentor and the mentee.
There are no straightforward answers for how to solve different situations. All challenging situations and mentoring relationships are unique, and solutions must be found separately. Discussing a challenging situation is often enough to solve the situation. Sometimes, the organiser’s tips may be necessary.
There are also situations where interrupting the mentoring process is the best solution. Situations may change. There may not be enough space for mentoring, or mentoring may not serve its purpose for a certain pair. In this case, the process should be ended through discussion, so that all parties clearly understand why the process is ending.
- The organiser is responsible for the mentoring programme as a whole.
- The better the mentoring programme is planned, the easier it is to carry out.
- Focus on preparations before mentoring and on providing orientation for the participants to reduce your workload at later stages.
- Match mentoring pairs after thorough consideration and plan how you can instruct them as necessary.
- Consider any special needs of your target group, and adapt your actions to serve these needs.
- Open and sufficient communication supports the participants during the mentoring process.
- Mentoring pairs may face difficulties – do not hesitate to contact them as soon as you become aware of any challenges. Try to understand and listen to both parties.
1. What resources are needed to organise a mentoring programme?
A mentoring programme consumes some resources, but it can also have a lighter structure. Most resources are needed during the planning and preparation phase, especially when recruiting mentors and mentees, and when matching mentoring pairs. Before organising, consider your available resources and plan your programme based on them. A mentoring programme can also be productive without a large number of additional activities. Remote mentoring may also be lighter than face-to-face mentoring.
2. Where can I find mentors?
Recruiting mentors is the most laborious and challenging stage when preparing a mentoring programme. Mentors can be found in the organiser’s professional networks and partners, YES Kummit, professional groups or social media services such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
This material was developed in the MESH project (ESF 2019–2021). More information about the MESH project’s activities and results is available on the project’s website at mesh.turkuamk.fi.